Locus Magazine's just posted my latest column for them, "In Praise of the Sales Force," a look at the things that publishers can do for authors that the Internet can't replace (yet, anyway!).
Hardly a day goes by that I don't get an e-mail from someone who's ready to reinvent publishing using the Internet, and the ideas are often good ones, but they lack a key element: a sales force. That is, a small army of motivated, personable, committed salespeople who are on a first-name basis with every single bookstore owner/buyer in the country, people who lay down a lot of shoe-leather as they slog from one shop to the next, clutching a case filled with advance reader copies, cover-flats, and catalogs. When I worked in bookstores, we had exceptional local reps, like Eric, the Bantam guy who knew that I was exactly the right clerk to give an advance copy of Snow Crash to if he wanted to ensure a big order and lots of hand-selling when the book came in (He also made sure that I got ARCs of every Kathe Koja and Ian McDonald novel – Eric, if you're reading this, thanks!).
In Praise of the Sales Force
This matters. This is the kind of longitudinal, deep, expensive expertise that gets books onto shelves, into the minds of the clerks, onto the recommended tables at the front of the store. It's labor-intensive and highly specialized, and without it, your book's sales only come from people who've already heard of it (through word of mouth, advertising, a review, etc.) and who are either motivated enough to order it direct, or lucky enough to chance on a copy on a shelf at a store that ordered it based on reputation or sales literature alone, without any hand-holding or cajoling
Kelly O’Dwyer is a politician from the Australian Liberal Party who sent Twitter DMCA notices that shut down an account that compared her to Sophie Mirabella, another Liberal politician who lost her seat in a landslide in the last election.
The European Union is in the final stage of deciding on net neutrality, and as it stands their proposal contains major loopholes that threaten the open Internet in Europe and around the world. BEREC, the EU regulator, is holding a final public comment period that will end on July 18.
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