A Confession, of Sorts

This probably isn’t going to be big news to any of you.  Matter of fact, if you know me outside of this blog — if I’ve been to your house, or you’ve been to mine; if you’re a fellow WoW geek and we share a guild tag; if when one of us has passed through the other’s town we’ve met for a meal — you already know this and it isn’t news at all.

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while and put on your Sherlock hat, you might’ve sussed it out already; it’s not something I’ve been trying to hide, exactly.  More something I’ve simply left out.

And, truly, it’s not an earth-shattering confession.  I’m certainly not a Name anywhere.  You’re not going to sit back from your keyboard, stunned and shocked and jaw-dropped when you read it.  However, I’d like to get it out of the way so I can feel comfortable talking about some of the things I’d like to chat about around here, but haven’t, because I wasn’t fully disclosing.  So.  Onward.

It’s no secret that I work for a publisher.  I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned at least once that I’m in sales, and if I went digging, I’m also pretty sure I’ve mentioned my company is one of the Big Six.  But I’ve left the publisher’s name out because, well, this is a personal blog, and while I’ll happily spout forth about the book industry in general, I’m not going to go into specifics about what I do during the day.  Because that would get me fired, and I’m kind of keen on that whole having-a-job thing.

The problem with that, though, is when I’m jumping up and down going “OMG I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH,” if it’s one of ours, I feel weird not saying, “oh, and by the way, I work for the publisher.”  Which means I’ve talked about books in the past, but left out ours, and… well, I dunno.  The bookseller in me thinks that’s really bloody unfair.

Here’s your last chance for sleuthing: click that link and start eliminating publishers.  You can also knock Macmillan off the list, since I gushed about The Gathering Storm, and Simon & Schuster, since I wouldn’t shut up about Under the Dome last fall.  So, with the rest of that list, you can cross off Houghton Mifflin* (Life as We Knew It) Penguin (The Warrior-Prophet, The Name of the Wind), S&S again (Uglies), and Random House (Iron Angel).  That still leaves three big ones.  I’m too lazy to look back and see if I talked up any Harper books (though I did post pictures of my ARC of Fool).

I’ve talked about working in Boston.  Scholastic doesn’t have offices here that I’m aware of.

Which means, if you know your Big Six, you can see who’s missing.

Ladies and gentlemen, I work for Hachette Book Group.

Pick yourselves up off the floor, please, it’s unbecoming.

Now, like I said above, I’m neither a mover nor a shaker.  Not in the company, not in the industry.  If you said my name to someone (unless they’re one of my booksellers) they’d stare at you blankly and say “Who?

I’m a sales rep, but I always feel like I need to put on the qualifier that I’m in telephone sales.  This doesn’t mean I call you while you’re having dinner and try to sell you stuff you don’t want.  I have an established territory.  I call booksellers whose stores might be smaller, or in out of the way places, or who just don’t need a rep coming out to visit them but still want someone they can call and talk to when they have questions.  I do the same things a field rep does, with the exception of selling face-to-face.

I talk to booksellers about books all day.  It is the best job ever.

It’s also the best company ever.  I’m not saying this to cover my ass in case someone at HBG sees this post.  I’m saying it because every day, something happens that reminds me I work with some of the smartest, savviest, most passionate people in the publishing industry.  From the top down, we have an amazing crew.  There are a lot of unsung heroes at any publisher.  They do jobs that, if you don’t know all the intricacies that go into getting a book on the shelf, you might not even realize existed.  I get to work with many of them, and they keep things running smoothly.

Did I mention the part where I get to talk to booksellers about books?  My buyers are amazing.  I’ve been talking to some of them for eight years now, and a week doesn’t go by that I don’t learn something from them.

I have several buyers who will geek out with me over sf/f books.  We’ll call or email one another and say “Have you read this yet?  Remember the part where…?”  Most of these are Orbit titles.  My booksellers get to go out and handsell them.  I’d like to gush to you lot about those same titles, but I’ve refrained since, well, they’re books I get paid to sell.  It didn’t seem right telling you to go buy a book without the disclaimer that I work for the publisher, so I just kind of self-censored.

Except… except that means I haven’t been talking about some of the books that I’ve absolutely loved, and the books I’m super crazy excited about, and that’s just anathema to me.  Yes, I’m a sales rep, but as I’ve said before, I still consider myself a bookseller at heart.  Booksellers spread the word about the books and authors that they feel strongly about because, well, we’re book lovers.  And if you’re here, reading this, I’m guessing you’re a book lover, too.

Which means, god damn it, we should be talking about books regardless of the ISBN prefix and the little symbol on the spine.

The official stuff, to satisfy my own personal ethics and for our official blogging policy:  the views and opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not reflect the views or opinions of Hachette Book Group.  If I say something stupid, it’s me, not the company.

And, to satisfy the FTC thinger, you can assume that if I’m writing about a book published by HBG, I have received a free ARC or have the manuscript on my shiny little Sony eReader.  (Though, more often than not, if I love a book, when it comes out I’m either buying a copy for myself or buying one for a friend who I think will love it, too.  Because I like it when authors get paid for their books, since that means they get to write more books for me to read.  I also like it when bookstores get to sell books, which keeps them open so I can go shopping in them.  I like bookstores being open.  I’m totally selfish like that.)

Understand, too, that I don’t get any kickback from anyone or anywhere if you lot go out and buy the books I recommend.  The only people who benefit monetarily from you buying books I recommend are the authors and the bookstores.  If you look, I don’t have any ads on here, and I don’t have any affiliation with bookstores that’d earn me money if you bought books through a link on my site.  I do encourage you to buy books through independent bookstores, thus the link to IndieBound over on the side.  But that’s because I like independent bookstores (see above paragraph), not because they’re slipping me twenties through the interwebs.

Lastly, if you have questions about what I do, it’s totally fine to ask, and I’ll answer to the best of my ability.  I reserve the right not to answer certain questions, especially if you’re asking me for proprietary information, or for specifics that I’m not comfortable putting out there on ye olde internet (see: not wanting to get fired).  But I’ll let you know if that’s the case.

Okay?  Okay.



*Houghton-Mifflin isn’t one of the Big Six, but they are one of the last big publishers in Boston, and they’re pretty damned awesome.

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5 Responses to A Confession, of Sorts

  1. Very cool! My own confession: I hadn’t read enough of your blog to pick up on the clues and hints, but I’m going to do some catch-up reading now. I love hearing about the industry from the inside, and may very well have some questions for you in the coming months as my novel passes through the hands of similar sales rep. Looking forward to your lovable-book recommendations.

  2. Von says:

    Wow. This is your confession.
    But since we’re friendy friends…..
    I already knew this about you.
    Great post though!

  3. falconesse says:

    Hee, welcome, Homred! Poke around, have a virtual beer, and definitely ask away!

    Sorry, Vonnie, it’s not a very exciting one. :( I was going to start with “NO, HILL, I’M NOT PREGNANT,” but y’know.

  4. Von says:

    Not exciting to me, but could be exciting to other readers. You know what IS exciting??? That very very very soon we’ll all be hanging out!! I took Thurs and Fri off work to spend with you all….

  5. Hillary says:

    Would have been cooler if she was making me some spawn to rent.

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