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Pulling Back the Curtains: Launching Books for Spring 2016

OK Swoon Readers, it’s about to get technical.

Yesterday we started a two-day process where everyone involved in the publishing process crams into a conference room to launch all the awesome books we will be publishing for a particular season. This is when editors get to stand up before sales and tell us why they bought the book, why they love it and what it is all about. This week we are launching Spring 2016, which means anything on sale between May and early August 2016.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that the accounts I sell to don’t have large book sections and therefore do not take every single title we publish. As I listen to editors present their books I generally ask the following questions:

• Is this book appropriate for my accounts?

• What about the on-sale date… any conflicts/issues? For example, moving the on-sale date slightly earlier to meet account requirements. For instance, back-to-school themed titles need to be ready to ship early May because back-to-school promotions go up at stores in early June.

◊ If this is a holiday title, are the dates OK? (Delivery of books to my accounts is extremely important. If we miss delivery it causes a whole host of problems that I won’t get into. Since it is still very early in the game, I will reinforce these dates with publishers during launch so we can adjust schedules accordingly).

• Any issues with the title? Or the cover? Sometimes we all agree that a cover needs an adjustment or that the title ‘doesn’t quite fit the book description,’ and sometimes we disagree, which means we all put on boxing gloves and duke it out. Just kidding, in all cases we talk it through and hopefully appease all concerns.

Feedback from sales during these meetings can be very broad (I like it!) to very nit-picky (Is it possible to move that burst that says “over 1000 stickers” to the upper left hand corner?). Regardless of the feedback the bottom line is that we always have the best interest of the book in mind. We really do love each book we publish and we want to make sure we have everything we need to get that book out into the world.

That nit-picky question mentioned above… that usually comes from me. The reasoning behind the request is two-fold. One, because of the shelving at some of my accounts, only the top 40% of the book is visible to the customer. So I want to make sure that the most important information is located in the top 40%. Two, it needs to be the top left corner because most accounts put their price sticker in the upper right hand corner.

Now that the technical stuff is over with, I love launch because like all my colleagues I LOVE TO READ. I love listening to editors talk about their books. When I walk out of launch meetings I have a stack of papers for books that will work for my accounts and another stack of books I cannot wait to read. I’ve worked in publishing for 13 years and I still get excited reading books before they go on sale.  In my opinion, it is the coolest part of my job.

Are there any other parts of the launch process you want more information on? Let me know in the comments!

Author spotlight

Jen E.

Jen E. lives and works in Manhattan as a sales rep for the completely awesome Macmillan Children’s Group. When she …

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