Fuse #8

Monday, September 11, 2006

Speed Dating?

Today we turn our attention to author Robin Brande. Ms. Brande, who won my love recently by sending me a delicious assortment of truffles (she hosts a contest on her site where you can win them) also happens to have a website/bloggy thing of sorts that I like to check from time to time. Recently I was particularly amused when Ms. Brande began discussing the fact that her new book, "Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature", was going to get some special attention from its publisher, Random House. Here's the deal:

So as part of that, they invited me to come to New York this week to talk at their pre-sales conference, which I did today. I gave a little, “Here’s my story,” kind of speech–maybe ten minutes long–to a roomful of a hundred or so of their sales, marketing, and publicity people. And I don’t know about them, but I had a great time. It’s pretty daunting to be up there in uncomfortable shoes trying to explain yourself in ten minutes, but I think it went all right.

Then after that, I was invited to a luncheon for about forty-five of the sales people to the big accounts–Barnes & Noble, Borders, Target, etc.–where I got to do this kind of speed-dating thing, moving from table to table in 10-minute intervals, meeting the sellers and hearing a little bit about what they do and what they like about their work, and they got to ask me some follow-up questions to the weird but true story I told them in my speech.

Beep beep beep. Back right on up there, buddy. Speed dating, eh? I find this fascinating. Authors must, if I hear her correctly, sell themselves in 10 minutes to all the big name sales reps. Holy guacamole, that's steller. If I were an author I'd write pages and pages of info about each 10-minute stop. Was the Target rep pushy or smiling way too hard? Howzabout the gal from Barnes & Noble? Were there horns? Could you see them? Is this a common thing amongst authors to sell yourself in 10 minutes or less? Please excuse me while I sit here, mesmerized by the idea.


At 1:19 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm, as fun as it is imagining Big Box stores personified, you've got this a tad twisted. A meeting like this would be all in-house sales reps - including the one whose job it is to SELL to Target, the one who SELLS to B&N, etc. So it's all reps who are already on your team as an author, so to speak - it's just your chance to become a real live person that they'll remember.

At 11:13 AM , Blogger Jennifer Armstrong said...

And even if they were the buyers for those accounts, an author still wants to be smiley and friendly and not take notes for some kind of expose'. As much as we might decry the chains and champion the indies, we do have bills to pay and we want the chains -- and Target and WalMart -- to sell our books. Whenever I have met buyers from the big national accounts they've been hornless average Joes or Jills. They're not devils out to destroy the temple of literature. They're just doing a job. This is the bitter truth about the children's book world -- we like to think we're doing something on behalf of civilization, but it's also a business.

At 12:47 PM , Anonymous Robin Brande said...

Aack! I can't believe you're talking about little ole me!

Anonymous is right--these were the Random House in-house salespeople who sell to the chains. And I was sorry I only got to spend ten minutes per table with them, because they all seemed fun and interesting (and some of them had some pretty outrageous stories much like the one I'd told them, so I could have hung around a lot longer if there were time).

What was really sad about the whole thing was that there was a fabulous buffet lunch, and even though I filled my plate up, I barely got to eat two bites in between all the talking. I definitely need to figure out how to eat more on these trips. Isn't that what it's all about?

At 1:01 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Good! Good! I wanted some clarification on this. I suppose a person shouldn't use their blog as a query rather than a "This Is My Opinion" posting, but I find I learn a lot more from such intelligent people (like your pretty selves) when I write something like this. Many thanks to you all.


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