Fall Frontlist-on-Floppy Program
Grace Lender of Wordstock reports that all but three rep orders for diskettes have been shipped. Two more are completed and will be shipped tomorrow; and the last one (and, miracle of miracles, only one!) has been so fraught with problems that its status remains in limbo.
Our congratulations and heartfelt thanks go out to Grace, who, with the ever-supportive assistance of Ralph Woodward, has managed to complete this daunting task successfully.
New publisher payment options
With the hearty approval of the Board of Directors, a system has been set up with NAIPR’s bank in Camden, Maine, to offer publishers the option of paying their FROF invoices by either VISA or MasterCard. Several companies have inquired about the availability of such a service in the past, and so it seemed a logical move. From NAIPR’s point of view, of course, the earnest hope is that payment of our invoices will be speeded up.
There are still far too many publishers who have not yet paid for the Spring program. While we all know that the economy is problematical, it should be remembered that it is just as troublesome to small, non-profit organizations as to anyone else, if not more so. And so, we would ask of you sales/marketing managers that you please check with your accounts payable people to be certain that the bills we sent out February 20th are paid!
A message from our President
The most pressing and important issue facing our association at this time is called the November initiative. This is the shifting of semi-annual sales meetings in New York City from early December to early November. It has become a litmus test on whether independent reps can speak with one voice.
A poll of group heads went out just before Book Expo America in Chicago last month, and the results were 3 to 1 in favor of this change. And here’s why it makes so much sense: it’s about reps partnering with small, medium-sized and larger publishers who use our services to sell books in the marketplace. Our advice and input into the publishing and marketing of their books can be put to optimal use if we start earlier in the cycle. The net result is that publishers using independent reps become more competitive.
There is something to be said for meeting with publishers every 6 months, instead of the awkward 5 and 7 month schedule that is now in place. Marketing and sales departments realize that they will not have all the elements of a sales conference in place in November; but the benefits of getting crucial rep input about new titles at a time when publishers can actually make changes far outweigh this inconvenience. Catalogs do not have to be ready any earlier than usual. Publishers’ production schedules will not be affected. It’s the idea of getting new title information into the rep pipeline a whole month early, and everybody gains from this concept.
I made a list of things standing in the way of the November initiative, and I would like to share it with readers. 1) old habits die hard; 2) ego of publishers who want to present a fait accompli at sales conference with a finished catalog; 3) condo timeshare – vacation plans rule; 4) defeatist attitude of reps saying it can’t be done.Let’s look at each issue separately.
To change the mindset of always visiting New York City in December for sales conference can be easily done by the very fact that reps and out-of-town publishers face inflated hotel rates and a constant fight with holiday crowds in the city; a shift to November relieves this expensive and time-consuming battle. Publishers, especially larger ones with an established program, feel like reps are their audience in a kind of best-in-show presentation; if they are not reading from the finished catalog, they are reading from the tip sheet! In a sales conference such as this, any suggestions and comments by reps are regarded as bad etiquette. A shift to November creates an evolving process and a more fluid situation in sales meetings, where the potential for resentment and upset are alleviated. It’s been mentioned that a small but significant amount of reps and publishing sales and marketing people have vacation plans and time shares in the sunny regions during November.
These enterprising people are going to have to realize that this effort cannot revolve around them and their individual needs; alternative plans need to be made. Those reps who don’t show up for November conferences for such a reason as a time share risk getting fired, and that’s flat. Publishers know that they can follow up afterwards with new title information, and everybody is a professional here and has a stake in making the best of sales conference time.
Finally, reps need to stand together in this effort and make 2002 the target date for the November shift. Start rescheduling now with your publishers! An effective way to go about this to use the day of the week as a guide. For instance, if a sales conference always falls on the first Saturday in December at 4:00, shift it to the first Saturday in November at 4:00. It’s easy this way!
I suggest that reps encourage sales and marketing people at the publishers they represent to write letters with their views on November sales conference. We will publish them in the next edition of NPR News Online. In this way we can start a dialogue going and create a forum for further discussion of this important and salient issue.
Eric Miller, President, NAIPR