Yesterday I attended the Macmillan Winter Sales Conference along with the team from Ford Street Publishing. Why? Because Macmillan distribute Ford Street’s books. And Ford Street will be publishing my new teen novel, Gamers’ Challenge, sequel to Gamers’ Quest, in September this year. (Actually, I got my advance copy at the conference. Exciting!) It was an odd, exhausting but ultimately fulfilling experience. So I thought I’d tell you about it…
Here’s how it all works. During the conference, half a day is set aside for a publisher’s expo. All the publishers who are distributed by Macmillan come along and set up on tables with their books and promotional material. And each publisher is allowed to bring along a couple of authors and/or illustrators. And then three hours of literary speed dating ensues.
Macmillan sales reps from around the country (and New Zealand) come along and visit each table in groups. Four or five of them sit at each table and the publisher and authors/illustrators get about 20 minutes to promote their books. Then the MC calls swap time and the reps move to the next table. And so it goes until each rep has visited each table.
The whole idea is that the reps become more familiar with the books that they will be selling into bookstores across the country. Given the number of books that are published each year, it is a real asset for publishers to have reps who are actually familiar with their books. And it’s easier for the reps to sell books that they know a little something about. So it’s a win/win situation.
It’s all actually a lot harder than it sounds. It’s nerve-wracking. It’s tiring. But also, ultimately, rewarding.
I was lucky enough to be invited by Ford Street, along with award-winning illustrator Anna Pignataro, whose picture book Ships in the Field (written by Susanne Gervay) will be published in February 2012. This meant that my book got a little extra time, as I was able to spend five minutes telling each group of reps about Gamers’ Challenge, how I will be promoting it, and why I think it’s a book that bookstore will be able to sell. And just as if I had been speed dating, I desperately hope that I’ve made a positive impression in my small amount of time — that the people I’ve spoken to will remember me; and that when they come to visiting bookstores, they’ll say something nice about my book so that the stores will want to stock it.
Like any author, I want my new book — my baby, that I’ve spent months labouring over, and that will now go out into the world on its own — to be liked and to sell well. And this sales conference was one step on the way to that goal.
But there’s still lots more promotion to go!
Tune in next time for a guest post from Hugo-nominated author Sean McMullen.
Catch ya later, George
PS. Follow me on Twitter… speed tweeting, anyone?