Where In the World Is Sessalee Hensley?
Or rather, who in the world is she?
A comment on a recent Longstocking post piqued my interest regarding this woman. You see, author Coe Booth wrote that she knew a YA author who was down in the dumps because Barnes & Ignoble refused to sell his new book. That means a dip in significant sales, no? So I'm reading through the comments and I come to this one from an Anonymous source.
i worked for b&n many years back and learned much about the dark side of book retail so, yes, i knew this could happen.Oh so? Well excuse me, oh anonymous poster, but I've never even heard of this woman. Could a single gal really be so powerful in the biz?
her name is sessalee hensley and she's the primary fiction buyer for b&n. it is no secret in the industry that if she objects to a cover when she sees a galley a publisher will change it completely in order to assure b&n carries it.
Turns out, absolutely. Mediabistro, for example, had this to say about her:
The most important publishing person you've never heard of is Sessalee Hensley, the chief fiction buyer for Barnes & Noble. Unless, of course, you actually work in book publishing, in which case, you're absentmindedly scrawling her name on errant scraps of paper and praying to the distribution gods that she waves her magic wand over your latest project, stacking it in piles of 200 next to the front door at every store from Bakersfield to Boston.Ug. I knew that B&N and Borders have enough sway that if they don't like a publisher's book cover they can tell them to change it willy-nilly (in my heart of hearts I believe that's what happened to poor beleaguered A Friendship for Today). The fact that Borders does this, by the way, is hilarious. I guess that since they've such teeny tiny children's sections, a publisher would do anything to be one of the five books presented there. So it all comes down to one gal and one gal alone. One POWERFUL gal. Miss Snark said of her, "Sessalee Hensley is very very smart, and very very seldom wrong."
Her effect on your average everyday writer? Apparently she can make or break you. What I can't quite determine is if she controls children's fiction alongside adult and YA. Does anyone happen to know off the top of their head?