Saturday, August 04, 2007

Lunch Panel: Increasing Your Revenue & Book Sales...

I paid the extra fee to attend sessions in the conference's Increasing Your Revenue & Book Sales track meant for published authors. The lunch session for this track was made up of number of panelists including Krista Marino of Delacorte, Tracey Adams of Adams Literary, Rachel Griffiths who recently moved from Arthur A. Levine Books to Scholastic Press, Julie Strauss-Gabel of Dutton, Rubin Pfeffer of Simon & Schuster, Brenda Bowen who returned to HarperCollins in June and will launch a new imprint in winter 2009, Bonnie Bader of Grosset and Dunlap and Price Stern Sloan, Allyn Johnston of Harcourt, agent Kate Schafer of Janklow & Nesbit, and Arthur Levine who has an eponymous imprint at Scholastic. It was a big panel.

I didn't feel like they gave much in the way of actionable advice in regards to actually improving ones books sales. The emphasis was more on the best way to run a career, however. Some interesting topics were covered. I'll give you a few highlights of the Q & A. Note: Assume these answers are paraphrased, not direct quotes. Some questions came from Lin Oliver, some from the audience.

Q: Is it okay to publish at multiple houses?

Levine: Consider how many books you're publishing.
Pfeffer: It's okay, but coordinate your publishing schedule.
Marino: Sometimes it's not a good idea--listen to publishers when they help you plan your career.
Adams: Use caution--make sure to leave time to write what's in your heart along with what's bringing in steady income.

Q: (From Pfeffer to panel) How realistic is it that a new writer should put all her eggs in one basket? What about editors moving:

Marino: I expect a certain loyalty. If you work with another house there's an expectation that you're not all ours--we're no longer 100% behind that author. We're basically supporting their backlist.
Bowen: If and editor leaves, your initial champion is gone. That can work to your advantage. Maybe a senior person was working on your book and a junior, more hungry editor takes over. There are pros and cons.

Q: How can an author get herself out of the midlist?

Shafer: If you publish 2-3 titles a year, they all can't be frontlist.
Levine: I hate the term midlist. It's invented by CEOs. Let go of the idea of " midlist author" and concentrate on maximizing the sales for the particular book you've written.

Q: What if we go to someone else because you pass on our book?

Marino: A pass decision is not necessarily based on marketing, but maybe on career building. Maintain open communication.
Levine: We as individuals are not going to be right all the time about a book. But we don't want your second book to not do as well as your first book. And we'll tell you if your second book, we feel, is not your best work.
Strauss-Gabel: I like to pretend it's not a human process but it is. Your agent is a very important part in this process--and agents have different philosophies when it comes to running an author's career. Know your agent's philosophy going in.

Then Brenda Bowen and Arthur Levine, just briefly, sand a duet.


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