Monday, October 26, 2009
Marvelous Marketer: Publisher's Sales Department (Eric from Pimp My Novel)
Hi Eric. Thanks for joining us. Before you give us some inside scoop into the Sales Department, tell us more about you and what you do.
I grew up in the northeast and have always felt at home there, so moving to New York City after college made sense for me even before I considered a career in book publishing. I've worked in both marketing and sales in the industry over the past few years, with my most recent stint in sales being with one of the larger accounts. My primary role is to assist two of the reps in their day-to-day jobs of selling a selection of our overall list to our assigned account.
Can you tell us the difference between publicity and marketing?
As for publicity versus marketing--the main difference is that publicity is coverage you don't pay for (e.g. a spot on Good Morning America, a New York Times book review), whereas marketing is coverage you do pay for (such as full-page ads in the New York Times, some forms of co-op advertising, &c).
Being in Sales, can you give us some insight as to your typical day?
I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post a few weeks ago about my typical day,but in brief: I spend a typical day doing administrative work (replying to e-mail inquiries, sending mailings to the accounts, copying and filing expense reports, and so on), tracking sales data from the accounts, reviewing bestseller list information, checking and updating co-op information, and building a sales kit (a packet of information detailing all major aspects of a book) for each title the reps plan to sell on their next sales calls.
Before the book is acquired, what is sales role in the acquisitions process? What makes or breaks (from a sales/marketing) the acquisition of a book that book editors love?
Sales generally comes into the picture after acquisition, since the profit-and-loss statement helps separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff (sales-wise, anyway) without our direct input. (For more on the P&L, see my recent series. Sales will generally see the book at informational meetings after acquisition, at which point numbers will start to firm up a little more.
Does sales/marketing Google authors to evaluate their online presence or platform?
Sometimes. This is pure speculation, but I imagine editorial does this more in the early stages than sales or marketing would. Certainly I or my bosses have been known to Google authors of books that have already been acquired and are going to be sold in soon in order to gather more information or to use their on-line platforms as selling points (e.g. "This author has a blog with tens of thousands of followers," "the author website gets X number of hits per month"). Sales calls move pretty quickly and there may not be time to bring these points up, but they may be good ammunition if you're trying to get a buyer to increase his/her buy.
What goes into creating a concept for a book cover? Does the author/illustrator have input?
This is something the art department handles, and I'm afraid I don't know too much about it. From what I've seen, the author doesn't have a huge amount of influence over the cover, although there are exceptions (the author is a major celebrity, the author is an artist who insists on doing his/her own cover art, &c). The author sees the cover before publication, though, and I don't think I've seen a book go on-sale with a cover the author absolutely hated.
During marketing process of a book, how can an author work best with the sales and marketing department?
Authors rarely work directly with sales or marketing, since their relationship with the publishing house is generally mediated through their agent and editor. However, I have gotten the opportunity to meet/work with a few well-known authors, usually accompanying them around to local stores to sign stock, helping coordinate their appearances at conventions like Comic-Con or BEA, and so on. The best way an author can work with sales is to let their agent and editor know they're willing to do whatever it takes to sell themselves and their book, and if the editor and agent have an idea that involves getting the author together with some of the sales folk, they'll make it happen.
What would you say are the 3 things authors can influence the most in the book marketing process? What is out of their hands?
I think the three most important things an author can influence during the book marketing process are: 1.) Writing a great, salable book; 2.) Keeping up their on-line presence (author website, Facebook, Twitter, and so on) in order to maintain interest in them and their work and garner a loyal fan base; and 3.) Bring any positive reviews, media attention, &c they may receive to their agent's attention. Chances are their agent and publishing house will already be aware of these things, but it never hurts to double check. As an author, you can't afford any missed marketing opportunities.
That said, pretty much everything else (advertisement, promotional placement, &c) is out of the author's hands. That's what the marketing and sales teams are for, and the author needs to trust that those industry professionals know what they're doing.
What else can you share with us about your role in publishing and how authors can best utilize this role in their marketing?
Since I could go on for days about this, I'm going to take the opportunity to sell myself a bit and direct all you folks to my blog: http://pimpmynovel.blogspot.com/.
For more tips on what you can do, see my blog post on the subject.
Thanks for coming today, Eric!