Monday, February 18, 2008

Just what do sales reps do, anyway?

I belong to a small on-line reading group. There are just four of us -- two authors and two illustrators. Our ostensible goal is to read books, mostly kids and YA with an occasional adult book, and figure out what makes them good or bad or popular or overlooked. We read. We pore over cool illustrations. We also talk about the publishing industry, juicy gossip (OK, there isn't THAT much in children's book publishing), and whine and laugh about tough work and family issues -- mostly raising kids and caring for elderly parents.

An agent suggested to one of the illustrators that she make something for the sales reps when her next book came out. It started us into a big discussion: what do sales reps do, anyway? What's a good sales rep? How do you know if they are saying lovely things about your book to the book store buyers?

I found lots of info on a recent Shelftalker post, Alison Morris' fantastic blog on Publisher's Weekly. It's a well-deserved love fest for reps, and if you scroll through the comments you'll see a couple from the reps, sharing the love back.

There are a bunch of really, really hardworking people out there, getting our books into the hands of readers. I join in the love fest: thank you reps and booksellers both!!

1 comment:

Anna Grossnickle Hines said...

I remember Frank Sloan staging a mock sales conference at an SCBWI conference years ago. The editors were presenting the new list to the reps. Reps asked questions about such things as size of print run, availability of author, etc., Sometimes they advised things like, "You need to do a bigger print run. This one's going to be big." Then there was a gasp from the audience when one of the reps said, "That one's a skip." It's a pretty scary thought, but after giving it some thought, makes sense. That book may be one that has a school and library market, but won't move in a bookstore. Booksellers have to be able to trust the reps...and so do we.