What happens in a publishing sales conference? Since I’d never attended an official sales conference until this month (Sales & Marketing Assistant Janine here!), I found myself asking this question many times until the day itself last Wednesday. On the one hand, our sales conference is quite simple: we present our upcoming list to outside sales representatives, so that they have all the information and enthusiasm they’ll need when pitching our titles to booksellers around the country. On the other hand, the work that goes into sales conference preparation can be anything but simple.
Jenny Wesselmann Schwartz, AMACOM’s Director of Trade Sales and Marketing, oversees the entire conference and the long lead-up to the day itself. Her previous blog post on the topic proved invaluable to me in my first full sales conference cycle. In that post, she discussed book packaging from a sales perspective as well as the specific elements we create for our sales representatives:
As we get closer to sales conference, we start creating the tip sheets for the sales reps. Each includes a short summary of the book followed by bulleted sales handles, relevant specs, an author bio, and an overview of competitive books. We try to give the sales reps all the key information they might need on a sales call on one sheet of paper that they can leave with a buyer, if needed. The sales kits also include the tables of content, excerpts, endorsements and reviews, relevant articles, publisher and author marketing plans—everything we can think of that will help someone understand the book and its potential.
The sales reps also offer comments, if they see fit. This time, for our Spring/Summer 2016 List Sales Conference, one representative saw so much potential for one of our books that she suggested a much larger first print run–I wish I could tell you which book! On the flip side, a rep who also happens to be a surfing aficionado suggested a different cover for July 2016’s Make Your Own Waves. Turns out we New Yorkers picked a pretty unrealistic surfer image, and it’s a relief that he caught that. (Actually, Creative Director Cathleen had also questioned whether it was a realistic move for a surfer, but, she joked, she “didn’t want to make any waves!”)
My main concern heading into the sales conference: my two speeches. I presented The Healthy Workplace and The Essentials of Finance and Accounting for Nonfinancial Managers, Third Edition, and felt nervous for days before. Fortunately, the former theater kid in me emerged just as I reached the podium, and I remembered just how fun it is to deliver a performance (even a very direct one about, you know, finance and accounting). It should be fun–because, as Senior Editor Stephen S. Power pointed out to me, it’s all about transferring enthusiasm.
“Maybe 20 years ago, the agent Jim Hornfischer published an essay on ‘the chain of enthusiasm’–that is, the author transferring their enthusiasm for a project to their editor, the editor transferring it to sales and publicity, sales transferring it to the buyers and publicity transferring it to readers,” said Stephen. “So that’s my goal with speeches: to transfer the enthusiasm through one story, two numbers and, hopefully, even more humor.” (If you’re interested in the original essay, it’s available on the Hornfischer Literary Management website!)
So stay tuned for our forthcoming Spring/Summer 2016 Catalog! Our authors are excited, we’re excited, our sales reps are excited–and you will be too.