In honor of Book Roast, anonymous publishing insider Ms. Sally Spitfire was gracious enough to stop by and share with us a day in the life of a marketing manager at a major publisher. Enjoy!
My luvin’ cuzin Suzy,
I’m so sorry that I had to cancel my trip to visit you and the family for this upcoming weekend! I know it’s simply dreadful, but I just have so much on my plate right now between work and life… I think it would be a more enjoyable trip for everything if I came when I was less distracted and more in a vacation frame of mind. Maybe mid-July? The heat here in NYC is unbearable that time of year anyway…
In place of my visit, I thought it would be fun to send you–my email–a little tour of the office where I work. I usually use these letter to you to talk about one specific detail of my job, but sometime I wonder if I’m neglecting the whole picture…
You know, of course, that I work as a Marketing Manager for one of the top ten commercial publishing houses. In case any of the crazy cousins ask “what that really means,” just tell them that, in brief, the marketing manager must figure out: 1) WHO the target audience is for each book 1) how to make that book APPEAL to that audience (think book format, cover art, etc.) and 3) HOW to reach that audience (think advertising, blogger outreach, etc.)
So that’s the BIG picture.
But how does it work on a day to day basis?
My job is, as Dolly Parton would put it, basically “Workin’ 9 to 5… barely gettin’ by…” That being said (or sung), I prefer getting to work an hour early when possible, because it’s the only peaceful time of day at the office. So, every morning around 8am, I ride up the 9 floors in the quiet elevators, clutching my to-go tea from home (now cold) and my e-reader (never far from hand) and step into the narrow, white hallway that has become a home away from home…
Even though I do an incredibly wide array of tasks, from overseeing cover design, to choosing advertising for books, to contacting bloggers, 75% of my day is spent sitting in one place: at my desk. Honestly, Suzy, I can’t imagine how people did this job before email.
I’m lucky in that I have a very close relationship with my direst boss. Although for the most part I manage my own projects and time, I go to him with any questions that seem beyond my experience and make a concerted effort to keep him in the loop for all major projects and any important accomplishments. Here’s teensy peek into his office…of course, the bigwigs get the really niiice office furniture. Someday, I aspire to leather couches.
Let me just say, before we move on to the next stop on my tour, that I secretly LOVE working in an industry where every single office is required to have multiple bookshelves. I try to keep at least two copies on my bookshelf of every current project I’m working on. It’s not at all unusual for a sales rep or a publicist to come to me in dire need of a copy to send to a bookseller or magazine reviewed.
Sometimes, I get a bit protective of my books. Too many just seem to disappear without any explanation…
You asked me once for my favorite and least favorite parts of my job. Without a doubt, my least favorite thing about my job is working this copy machine. I’ve never seen a machine that has such a simple job to do that makes it so complicated. Paper jam! Needs new toner! This machine has as many emergencies as the publishing industry itself.
My favorite part? FREE BOOKS! Have I ever told you about the free book boxes? There’s usually one per floor–give or take–and everyone piles it with books that they don’t need or want any more, some from the office and some personal from home. Anyone can take them and, once they get so full they begin to overflow, one of us boxes the books up and sends them off to charity. Money doesn’t grow on trees but, in publishing, books spring up in bushels! Love it!
Back to the tour: One of the most important promotional objects created by the marketing team is the ADVANCED READERS’ EDITION for an upcomign book. At any given time, I usually have these advance copies (also known as galleys or ARCs) for 3 or 4 different books, waiting to be sent to bookstores or to early reader programs (such as Amazon Vine, Goodreads Early Reader or Library Thing Early Reviewer). I keep them all stacked along the hallways outside my office.
And, of course, where would we be without office supplies? Ah, how I wish I had time to write an ode to the office supply cabinet where all wonders reside–for free (to me)!–just waiting to be snatched and used.
And that’s it, Suzy. I hope you haven’t been too bored. Even more so, I hope that you’ll come visit in person some day! For all my humor and sarcasm, I do love it here…
Lots of Love from your NYC Cousin,
(Ms.) Sally S.