Several weeks ago, I had the great fortune of speaking with Jennifer C. from Beacon Press. After our conversation, two things became very clear to me. The first, was that it takes far more man (woman) power to run a press than I ever imagined, and second was the blazing fact that I know nothing about marketing and sales, even though I thought I did.
As a person with a sales background, I was quite stunned to learn how different sales and marketing are at a press, than overall sales, or at least the sales that I am familiar with.
Jennifer’s typical day, starts much like mine, by checking emails, and responding to those that need an immediate reply. That though, is where the similarities end. What I spend about 15 minutes doing, takes up her entire morning. She is busy reading emails, and responding to author events, coordinating events through email, and checking on the availability of books. When she is done with that, she makes the necessary updates to the publishing database, updates stock, and then helps with production. (or the moving of books, as she called it)
When emails are done, (most communication is done through emails) she is busy working on the market copy of the book where she works on the description of the book, and the author blurb. When she is done with that, she has time to organize book signings at bookstores, or even private parties for authors to do book signings in a more upscale location.
Jennifer’s background is as fascinating as she is. She was an English major in college, but gained her sales and marketing experience from a brewery that she worked for. It was there, as a people person, that she knew she was ready for a bigger and better project, and decided to move on to Beacon Press.
As I mentioned, I too, have a background in sales, but I never understood the marketing aspect so, I wondered what it was that made marketing different from sales. Although similar, she admitted, sales is where a specific person needs one book over the another. Marketing is more an idea of why they need the book. It is a way to help the reader find the right book.
Both, she reminded me, are living breathing things.
I learned a great deal from my conversation, but the one thing that stuck out with me was her genuine love of books,
and people. I guess, that is the perfect combination for a person in sales and marketing.