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What I Learned in Nashville

The Guideposts books editor-in-chief shares her experience at the Nashville sales conference.

I just returned from Nashville where we had our retail sales conference. Although I didn’t see any live country music, I did have some great barbecue (the sweet and the vinegar kinds) and fabulous pecan pie. As much as I like to eat, we did get some work done between meals!
I’ve always had mixed feelings about sales conferences since they can be everything from exhilarating to frustrating to downright depressing.

A book sales conference is when editors present the upcoming books (the GuidepostsBooks titles to be published in Spring, 2010) to our sales force. It’s our job to supply the sales people with book jackets, a synopsis, a list of competitive titles, reading material, or better yet, a manuscript. 

One of the most important things that we want sales to discuss with buyers is our publishing plans. We spend a lot of time going over all the publicity and promotion.

What can be especially stimulating is all the discussion that takes place around a book. This is the part that can be great fun if the sales force gets excited…or frustrating, if we haven’t hit on the right sales handle…or even depressing if everyone thinks a book will be a total dud. Although most sales people are too polite to tell you this to your face, they will let you know in one way or another before you head home!

One of the books that created the most discussion this time around included Fat Chance by Julie Hadden, who was a runner-up winner on Season 4 of The Biggest Loser and has not only her personal weight-loss story to tell but a lot of interesting material about the show itself. 

Besides the good food, one of the other highlights of our Nashville visit was seeing the full-size replica of the Parthenon (originally built for an 1897 fair) which also houses a 42-foot statue of Athena decorated in eight pounds of gold leaf. I’ll bet Athena never had barbecue.

Linda Cunningham

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