Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Tremble - it's sales conference time

Many newbie authors think that once they've got a contract with a real publisher, they can just sit back and wait for their book to become a bestseller. Only it's not quite as simple as that.

Leaving aside all the contributions the author still has to make, there will be an event on the horizon where arguably the success of your book is dependent on the presentation skills of your editor. You might imagine that once a publisher takes on a book, they simply instruct the sales force to SELL, SELL, SELL. However, the sales people don't know anything about your book. Enter the sales conference.

As an outsider I have always seen this as a bizarre process. The in-house sales staff sit in a room and along troop the editors, yours included. Each editor has to pitch their books to the sales people. Depending on how those few minutes (seconds?) go, the sales staff will decide if this is a book they are going to get wholeheartedly behind or give the sink-or-swim treatment to.

I have never been to sales conference, but speaking to editors, some find them quite intimidating. I have known editors plan dramatic stunts, like switching off all the lights, leaving the room in darkness and silence for as long as they dared, to demonstrate how dependent we are on electricity. Others have requested powerful images, soundbites and factoids - anything to grab the attention of those butterfly-brained sales people.  (I'm sure they're not really butterfly brained. It's just the concept of the sales conference is so alien to me.) A great book cover design helps a lot, too.

So next time you are moaning to friends that your editor never seems to do anything, give them a thought as they line up like lambs to the salesforce slaughter.

If my subtle subliminal sales tool has got you wanting to buy a copy of The God Effect, pop over to its web page.


  1. Last week I visited London (Science Online conference), and I tried to buy Ecologic. But I couldn't find it in any bookstore (most of the visited ones were Waterstones).

  2. Sorry to hear that Victor - it's not in the shops too much now as it has been out over a year, but you can find it at www.brianclegg.net/ecologic.html