Thursday, September 10, 2009

Part One: The Short Answer

So I've decided to make this a two-parter: today I'll answer some of the questions from Tuesday's comments that involve shorter answers, and Monday I'll provide the longer ones. (Stay tuned for Laura's round-up tomorrow!)

Without further ado:

Anonymous @ 10:15 AM asks: "How much input does Sales have with titles and covers?"

A lot, especially if it's backed up with the magic words "the buyer(s) hate/love this cover/title for XYZ reason(s)." If all the buyers at the major chains and the bigger indies hate a cover, it'll probably be sent back.

Anonymous @ 10:58 AM asks: "If most books don't earn out, how do editors calculate the advance they offer?"

I'll get back to you on this one, and don't let me forget. I've got a P&L/acquisitions class later this fall and will pass my hard-earned education on to you.

Monkey Mama asks: "Who drinks more, sales or marketing folks?"


Rogue Novelist asks: "How many trees were downed to accomodate [the trillions of manuscripts that are trashed daily]?"

Well, apparently the US book publishing industry uses about 30 million trees each year, so somewhere in that neighborhood.

Thomas Taylor asks: "What ever happened to [the Espresso Book Machine]?"

As Jenny noted, the Espresso Book Machine is alive and well! More to come on this interesting device.

Marianne asks: "I'm curious about the jobs of buyers and whether they exist all over the country or if there are only a few (in NY?) who buy for all the stores in the U.S. (I'm talking the major chains like Barnes and Noble). How might one become a buyer? Thanks!"

So sorry to have missed your question, Marianne. The answer is that buyers exist for major chains and retailers wherever those corporate offices are (for B&N, New York City; for Borders, Ann Arbor, Michigan, &c). Indie stores have their own buyers, often the owners.

Becoming a buyer at a major account is difficult work, and many buyers have been editors/agents/book sales reps/other significant figures in the industry for a number of years before becoming buyers. If you're interested, you can periodically check the corporate job listings for Barnes & Noble and Borders to see if anything that interests you crops up.

More to come on Monday!


  1. Oh, thank goodness you answered those questions, otherwise I would never have known that Marketing drinks more!
    You are a truly selfless and wise person to pass this knowledge on to us.

    That question about books earning out and calculating's a friendly reminder to write about it.

  2. Thanks for paying so much attention to the comments - we appreciate it!

  3. This is extremely cool of you to give us all an inside glimpse. I've always wanted to know how the Sales side worked! Thank you again! :)

  4. Marketing drinks more than sales?
    You, sir, must never have been to a real-life in-person sales conference.

  5. You truly are the font of all knowledge, unfortunately. Before the magic number appeared here I only worried about how many trees were felled to support this process. :)

  6. I found this posting informative. Thanks.

  7. Anon @ 5:18—

    Alack, much like in Vegas, what happens at sales conference stays at sales conference.