Monday, June 16, 2008

Focus meeting and Sneak Peak

Our Focus meeting for our Spring 2009 list is this afternoon. I've touched briefly on this before, but I thought I'd take this opportunity to procrastinate from preparing for the meeting by talking a little bit more about what Focus means.

This is how I defined it in an earlier post on Bloomabilities:
For those of you who don't know what Focus is, it's sometimes called Launch, sometimes called Presales. Basically, it's the first formal meeting that we have to introduce our books on a certain list to the sales force. Generally, we have a Focus meeting, then a Presales meeting, and finally the formal Sales meeting.
And so, to set the stage: our Focus meeting is held in the largest of our conference rooms. There is a large table on one end of the room, and additional seating set up as rows of chairs on the other end. I'd say that there are usually about 50 or so people in attendance--generally just the in-house sales and marketing people, which would include Trade Sales, International Sales, Special Sales, Subrights, etc. Occasionally, some of the regional sales reps will attend as well.

In preparation for the meeting, editorial has updated the Title Fact Sheets (these are called Tip Sheets at other publishers, and probably have still more names elsewhere) which are distributed to attendees. Basically, these are what they sound like--they give all the facts for our titles: price, trim size, page count, age group, pub date, etc., a "handle" or tag line, a longer description that will include plot information, selling handles (for example, "Great for Valentine's Day promotions" or "Book has a fun seek-and-find element that lends itself to multiple readings"), reviews and awards for previous books if applicable, and sales from previous books and comparable titles.

Our Marketing department puts together a Power Point slide show, coordinating with Design and Editorial to get the appropriate cover images and interior images.

Our publisher and associate publisher start the meeting with a quick wrap-up of the last season, talking about numbers, successes, books that we shouldn't forget about, and then we go into the new season. Generally, the presentation is ordered according to genre/age group--we do picture books first, then novelty, then middle grade, then young adult. Each editor presents the titles they've edited; we have just 1-2 minutes per title, so we have to be pithy. In addition to quickly introducing the project, touching on the plot, we try to bring in a memorable anecdote that will help get the Sales group interested and excited, remember the book, and then be able to pitch the book themselves to our accounts.

In addition to introducing the books to our Sales group, Focus meeting is also an opportunity for us to get feedback from the larger Sales group on everything from format, covers, prices, and more. Sometimes the feedback is welcome and useful, but sometimes it can be frustrating if we get negative feedback on something that may be too late or too difficult to change. And of course the reaction we're always hoping for is that at the end of the meeting everyone applauds and says, "What a strong list!" and seems excited to start selling.

Let's hope that's the reaction we get this afternoon.

And now, to give you a sneak peak, here are the books I'll be presenting (with their tag lines!):

Picture Books:

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
In this beautifully illustrated environmental story by Peter Brown, a young boy tends to a meager garden which blossoms and spreads across the city.

When the Moon Forgot by Jimmy Liao
An evocative, gorgeously-illustrated story about an unusual friendship between a boy and the moon, who has forgotten to return to the sky, by world-renowned illustrator Jimmy Liao.

Sergio Saves the Game by Edel Rodriguez
Sergio, the adorable penguin who won our hearts in Sergio Makes a Splash, returns with a story about soccer, determination, and discovering one's true talents.

Middle Grade:

Confetti Girl by Diana Lopez
A heartwarming debut middle grade novel about a young Latina girl navigating growing pains in her South Texan city.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (YAY!)
A new middle grade novel that crosses fantasy with Chinese folklore in a wondrous story of adventure, devotion, and friendship, from the creator of the beloved Year of the Dog.

Young Adult:

Geektastic edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci
Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci have united in geekdom to edit a collection of short stories from some of the greatest names (and geeks) in YA literature. Get your geek on!

Fade to Blue by Sean Beaudoin
An intriguing, smart, and satisfying YA mystery in the tradition of M.T. Anderson's Feed and Ned Vizzini's Be More Chill. This is Donnie Darko meets Ghost World.


The Postcard by Tony Abbott
The Devouring by Simon Holt (the hardcover is pubbing this Fall)

And now, back to working on my presentations!


Anna Alter said...

Thanks for describing this in detail, I sort of knew how they worked, but I don't think I ever really got the whole sequence of events.

Btw, what a strong list!

Anonymous said...

Fascinating post, Alvina. I only wish we could see the visuals too! Soon, I hope.

Best wishes,

carterbham said...

Thank you so much for this inside-vies of a focus meeting. I'm starting a mock-publishing group with my fellow children's MA students and this will be perfect for us.

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