Pride and Prejudice - The STORY GRID edition - Annotated by SHAWN COYNE

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ARCHIVES OF January, 2011

What It Takes

What It Takes

Selling Books in the Trenches

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.

Book Soup

Book Soup, an independent bookstore on Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles

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…)

Posted in What It Takes
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Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

Collectively-Enforced Mediocrity

By Steven Pressfield | Published: January 26, 2011

Have you seen the movie, The Fighter? It’s already won Golden Globes for Melissa Leo and Christian Bale–and looks like a strong Oscar contender in a number of categories. I loved it.

The Fighter

Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams in "The Fighter"

The movie is also–in its depiction of the psychological dynamics within the Ward family of Lowell, Massachusetts–one of the great cinematic evocations of Group Resistance, or what we might call Collectively-Enforced Mediocrity.

How does Resistance play out within a family? Let’s see what the film’s writers and director–Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson and David O. Russell–have to say.

A collective myth

Early in the opening reel we’re shown home-movie footage of tyke Micky (Mark Wahlberg) sparring with his older brother Dicky (Christian Bale). So the kid brother/big brother dynamics are established. We learn also of grown-up Dicky’s claim to fame–that as a fighter he once knocked Sugar Ray Leonard off his feet. This moment has become the Family Myth, the high-water mark of the Ward clan. (more…)

Posted in Writing Wednesdays
16 Comments

What It Takes

What It Takes

Art & Commerce

By Shawn Coyne | Published: January 21, 2011

In my last post, Rubber Meets Road, I talked about “the number.” Here’s what I said:

A number gives you clarity. Don’t fear a number. Embrace the number. It will focus you like nothing else.

After some analytical research, I came to the conclusion that THE PROFESSION’s number is 15,000.  Fifteen thousand sold copies will put THE PROFESSION on The New York Times bestseller list its first week on sale. (more…)

Posted in What It Takes
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