Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow Day (not)

The first selling day of a new season is important in the life of a rep.

October sales conferences, with their erudite editorial presentations and creative marketing plans on the new titles, seems like a distant memory. I have reduced my voluminous notes to a manageable set of talking points on each title. The jigsaw puzzle that is schedule-making for the next four months is largely accomplished. I have confirmed reservations on planes, and in hotels from Buffalo to Seattle. Catalogs have been mailed, order forms are in the house (well, two out of three), and I’m ready to go.

As has been my custom for a long time, I try to make Seminary Coop Bookstore and 57th Street Books my first appointments every season. The reason for this is that these are the premier academic booksellers in the country, and we are eager to hear how our new titles will be received by them. I almost always learn more than I bring. It’s also a fun appointment, especially since I can take the train to Chicago rather than driving.

I was psyched to go, but then I made the mistake of listening to the over the top alarmist weather media. The dire warnings yesterday made it sound as if only a fool would venture out in the midwest today, and although I am really not afraid to call myself one, rescheduling until next week seemed like the sane and safe thing to do.

Unfortunately, the twelve inches of blizzardy snow which had been promised arrived in the form of one slushy inch of easily navigable mess. Why oh why didn’t I trust my own skepticism and keep the appointment? These desperate early storm forecasts are notoriously exaggerated to attract eyeballs.

With a true snow day, there’s a feeling of celebration, and the joy of found time. It should be a day dedicated to reading and the sipping of hot chocolate laced with peppermint schnapps. Instead, this snow day interruptus has just left me feeling ornery and tense. Rather than relaxing, I’m using the found time to ruminate and obsess over the state of the book business, over what else I could or should be doing to sell books, and over why I still don’t have a convincing pitch for Guy Hocquenghem’s The Screwball Asses.

1 comment:

  1. John, I know the anxiety about weather reports. I flew into NY the 11th, and was worried the entire time that I would be stuck in airport hell because of the weather. Trusting your gut is better; that is, it's better when it's right, not so much when it's wrong, eh? And as for a hook for the Hocquenghem, as long as you teach people to pronounce his name, let the title speak for itself - a fine addition to any bookshelf.