Booksellers had the opportunity to attend the “Events/Programs: Managing Relationships With Your Sales Rep” education session at last month’s 15th annual Winter Institute in Baltimore. The session focused on how booksellers can find a rep, what they can expect from their reps, and what reps expect from them, among other topics.
Panelists included Eileen Bertelli of Parson Weems Publisher Services in Brooklyn, New York; phone rep Amanda McGuire of Penguin Random House; Julia Fleischaker of Greedy Reads in Baltimore, Maryland; and field rep Timothy Hepp of Simon and Schuster. The session was moderated by Jeanne Costello of Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, Colorado.
Here are some highlights from the session:
Getting a Rep
- Booksellers can find publisher sales reps by looking at the back of catalogs, inquiring with publishers at a trade show or by phone/email, or reaching out to their regional association, which will have lists of local reps
- New booksellers can also see if their regional trade association has a mentorship program, as that can help booksellers learn the ropes of managing relationships with reps
What to Expect From a Rep
- Physical catalogs or marked-up Edelweiss book listing pages
- Title-specific information, such as books by certain authors or about certain topics, as well as books that are moving at other stores
- Regional-specific or local titles and authors
- Promotional and marketing information
- Reps will follow their bookseller accounts on social media to keep up with happenings at the stores
- Reps may help with special projects, such as building displays or a collection around a particular promotion or theme
- Overall, reps will keep booksellers current on titles they might have missed in their own research
What Reps Expect From Booksellers
Clear communication and detailed descriptions about what makes their store unique
- Some reps connect with their accounts primarily via phone or e-mail (rather than in-person), so it can be helpful for booksellers to send pictures of their spaces and displays. This helps reps decide what may or may not work.
- Reps should know whether certain categories are working better than others, so they can recommend the right titles
- If booksellers don’t have analytics, they can use the notes function in Edelweiss to provide information about what does and doesn’t work in-store
- Though event grids might be daunting, they’re very important. Publishers in attendance noted that booksellers should add whatever notes they can that help show how special a certain event might be to a store. Booksellers should also note their industry relationships, such as partnerships with libraries, on their event grids. Reps will use whatever information a bookseller provides to try to get them on the radar of publicity teams.
- Following events, booksellers should provide reps with as much feedback as possible, including photographs
- Booksellers should also be specific regarding what sells in their stores, for example, specifically noting successful comp titles and why they’re working