Many publishing houses use sales representatives to call (either physically or by phone) on retail outlets stocking books.
Most houses brief their reps twice or three times a year at a sales conference, providing them with binders that list the forthcoming titles over that period, and any key facts that may help them to persuade retailers to stock them.
If you are asked to help
Very occasionally the author may be asked to talk to the reps – this is a really valuable opportunity. If you are asked to present, a ‘performance’ will be more memorable than a long description of what is in the book.
Think carefully about what to wear and the impression you want to create, and try to provide a couple of anecdotes that they can use when calling on shops.
Presenters are glossy, very high quality brochures that are used to draw a response from booksellers, wholesalers and key accounts. They are not produced for every title, just those for which the publishers have high expectations.
With very little time in which to impress a book’s saleability on a buyer, an effective presenter can draw the appropriate ‘wow’ and the consequent stock order. Presenter information is likely to be very short on book content and author information, and will include greater detail on how the title will be promoted together with proof that this will work (based on the success of previous/similar titles).
Key account presentations
The purchasing power of the major retailers and the book wholesalers is enormous today, and special visits are arranged to brief them on the titles most likely to appeal.
These are usually handled by the Sales (or Key Accounts) Manager, who takes along a marketing outline, cover artwork, author information and a copy of the presenter. It is not unusual for a cover design to be altered if an alternative version would produce a larger stock order.
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