Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Post-Launch Euphoria

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you've been hearing tweets and squawks from me about our big trade launch meeting today. Well, it's over now and I am taking a second to catch my breath.

I instituted the tradition of biannual launch meetings at JIST 7 or so years ago. It's a chance to get everyone around one table and talk about the new books that will be coming out the following season. I do my sales job on the salespeople and try to get them as pumped about the books as I am. We critique the working covers. We bounce marketing ideas off one another. It's a good thing--but somewhat stressful in the run up to it.

The day after a launch, I have to start thinking what I'm going to present at the next launch. First I plan the revisions--new editions of our best-selling books. I have to time the releases to coincide with stock depletion and optimal market conditions (it's best to avoid times of the year when people aren't thinking much about their careers, like summer and Christmas).

Next I look at existing series and see whether there's room for another book in the series. Since our topic area is so narrow, I've already maxed out most of the slots, though, so this gets harder each year.

The icing, then, are the totally new books on edgier topics. I've got three of them on this list. (I'm going to wait a few more weeks before I get too specific about them here, though.) These are the ones that are the biggest risk because they don't have a sales history behind them. They could stick and become mainstays. Or they could sell 2,000 copies and fade away.

Meanwhile, my boss is going through the same process for her reference list, which we also sell into trade.

There are myriad details to attend to before these ideas can be presented as books: contracts, paperwork, competitive research, sales research, outlines, author schedules, cover designs, catalog copy...just a lot to do. Finally we get it all nailed down and ready to present at the launch (and usually without more than a few days to spare).

After doing these presentations for so many years, I'm no longer nervous about them. But I'm still an introvert, and it still zaps my energy to be "on" for three hours like that. So right now I'm feeling quite a sense of relief--until tomorrow, when the whole process begins again. And that's not to mention the fact that now that I have signed all these books, I have to make sure that they get done!

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