It’s sales conference time again, the spring conference in New York, and I find I always really look forward to it. Maybe I give a slight preference to the fall conference in Minneapolis, where our wonderful distributor, Consortium Book Sales and Distribution, is based–that one’s more down home, as it were, and our wonderful publicist is there, too, so it means Greek food with her and Nick–but still, as everyone knows, New York has its charms. If the Devil lives there, doubtless he has his reasons, as well as excellent taste in real estate, and anyway I’ve got a lot of friends there, and I like to walk up and down the HIgh Line when I pop outside the conference across the street to get a breath of fresh air.
So it’s time to pack the dresses that replace the t-shirts at home(same idea, longer length), and the leggings that replace the yoga pants, and the same pairs of flat shoes. Usually it’s time to get my hair cut, but I find I don’t have any extra time, so I’m just going to have to go shaggy this year. Time to recheck my schedule there and make sure I haven’t double booked, or made some date too many miles away from the next one, and that I’m seeing all my friends I can, as well as new friends I’m making at various publications and bookstores.
Time to get straight in my head what I’m going to say to that room of sales reps, that will cheer them on to the next phase of their work, and not weigh them down with stuff they don’t need while they’re flying down the road.
Really, there’s so much to think about, on top of everything else, that my brain is just a fuzz of white noise, and I can only think of the next step, the next thing I have to do. When that happens, I like to sit with a cup of tea, clear my mind out of all the competing junk (bills! crazy ex-landlady! dinner party on Sunday! somewhere to put cookbooks in new house!), and let what’s really engaging me float on up so I can have a look.
Up it floats.
First is always the History of Arcadia. Where I go when no one’s looking. The second book in that series comes out in October, LILY THE SILENT, the story of what happens to Arcadia after Snotty found out who he really was and changed its fate. I’m working with some terrific and creative people to develop the first History of Arcadia app, and that, as I discussed with ace publicist and consigliere Molly Mikolowski, is a new technology I, a Luddite from way back, can get behind. Why? Because the reason I got into this publishing thing in the first place was with hopes of being able to interact about ideas, and to see if some new ones might not appear. But I couldn’t figure out how to interact with readers, and how to get a lot of different information from a lot of different sources, about a lot of different subjects (but always with one goal, and around one clear set of human values), how to build a world that might suggest alternatives to things I found alarming in this one…couldn’t figure it out, but figured best thing to do was get on the road and worry about it later. And sure, enough, farther down the road, more possibilities appeared. Among them, apps popped up. And people with a gleam in their eye when they talked about developing apps. People who like to drink wine while they plan this. My kind of people, in fact.
So there’s that. That’s big on my mind, and, along with a complete (and way overdue) revamp of the website (imagine, our content management system, from 2005, is practically an antique at this point; it’s like driving a Model T on that Information Superhighway), that’s the main project this year for EAP. Aside, of course, for the books. Always the books.
And then there’s the question of interns. Funny, that’s way on my mind. Not getting an intern–to tell you the truth, generally they’re not worth it, since we’re all the center of our own universe, and when you get an intern, you want to be the center and so does he/she, and there just isn’t enough time to coordinate two such centers. But when you get a good intern…and I did get a great one…you want to help him/her develop, both because we owe this to the younger generation for messing up the economy they’re entering into so hopefully, and also for more selfish reasons. If an ex-intern can find their footing in the same business we’re in, and develop skills we need, when we can hire them, we will. Right now, we can hire ace ex-intern Alison Week for only a few odd jobs, and she, bless her, is hungry for more training in publicity/marketing, with a special interest in digital same, and of course she’s got to make beer money just like the rest of us. So I have a vested interest in helping her as much as I can, and hiring her when EAP needs work done. Well, when EAP can afford to get the work done. And discussing this with her, and plotting, and planning for the future, is curiously satisfying…as well, as full of interest. What will Alison do next? It’s a story, isn’t it? I get to interact with it, and watch as the plot develops. And that’s what we’re all in it for after all–the stories. Wherever they are to be found.