By Steven Pressfield | Published: January 28, 2011
So far, we’ve been talking in these What It Takes posts from our own point of view, from the angle of the writer and his agent and publicist. Today I’d like to turn that around.
Let’s get down and dirty–in the trenches, selling books to bookstores. We’ll talk with Random House’s David Glenn, who’s one of the key sales reps working to “sell in” The Profession—and one I’ve had contact with since Gates of Fire back in 1998.
SP: David, welcome and thanks for giving our readers, many of whom are writers and artists, a peek into the real world of “moving the product.” Let’s plunge right in. We hear a lot these days about New Media and cutting-edge book-marketing tools. Tell me why that’s all baloney and why it’s really all about sales reps.
DG: Relationships still count. Reputation still counts. Social networking may well help a book go “viral,” but buyers for bookstores are like the rest of us: they’re looking for ways to spend LESS time hunched over their computers, not more. At heart, they’re book people, not computer people.
SP: What’s it like for the buyers you’re selling to? Are they as crazy-busy as the rest of us?
DG: Let me start by saying that I sell to the independent retail field sales channel. In other words, I have no contact or responsibility for what the chains or clubs buy. That being said, publishers reps typically work three seasons a year, each covering four months. A season can mean as many as 400 titles. That’s a lot of books for a buyer to have to familiarize herself with! So yes, anything my publishers can do in new media or online to increase the visibility of a given title can only help the buyer and help me. But in the real world, buyers depend on reps to help them filter this flood down to the essentials. In my own case, I’ve worked with some buyers for more than twenty years. They trust me. (more…)