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Creating a Catalog: Learning the Sales & Marketing Side of LHP
Back in December, I was nested in the common room of my suite. Ready to tackle the first of many final papers, my laptop was on, textbooks were open, and the Property Brothers were making a couple’s dream come true in the background.
When I heard the “ping!” of the Outlook notification and saw that the email was from Lindsay Lusby, I minimized all of my Word documents and muted the TV, cutting off Jonathan’s explanation to the homeowners as to why they couldn’t just take out the loadbearing wall in order to achieve their open-concept dream. There is something about the need for complete silence in order to put in all of your focus on what’s in front of you, like turning down the volume on the car radio when you realize you’ve missed your turn.
When I read that I had been selected for the position of Press Intern for the 2016-2017 spring semester, I screamed. Then I called my mom.
Not only was I excited to have gotten the job; I was thrilled to know that I would be working for the Rose O’Neill Literary House again.
Two summers ago, I was the Student Editor for the Washington College Review, a literary journal composed of student works that range from poems to research papers. The Review has since gone digital, but the experience taught me what it takes for one to put together a book, skills that are crucial for an aspiring editor and publisher like myself. But while I had an understanding of how to produce a project, I knew nothing of what to do once it was completed—in other words, I had no idea how to market the very thing I had spent a summer creating.
This is why the Press Internship caught my eye. In the past, the Press Intern has been tasked with the layout of the Literary House Press’ latest book, whether that is the annual literary journal, Cherry Tree, or the next poetry anthology. This semester, however, the Literary House wanted to focus on promoting the projects that were already on the shelves. When I read in the job description that the Press Intern would be asked to “help with the sale of publications through market research and the compilation of a catalog,” thereby contributing to the distribution process of a national literary magazine, etc., I knew I had to apply. Exploring the marketing and sales aspects of the publishing industry was exactly what I was looking for. Fast forward to December: as I lay sprawled on the common room floor talking excitedly on the phone, I was already imagining possible formats and fonts, and considering the best way to arrange the Literary House Press products across the page.
I was left to dream throughout Finals Week and over the Winter Break. Whenever I gave myself a reprieve from my thesis, I investigated how other, longer-running publishers were organizing their catalogs. While this gave me some direction, such as what information to include for each book listed and how to create an order form, I knew I would be left to my own digression when it came to the layout for all of the Literary House broadsides.
Because each broadside is unique, they vary in their dimensions. This made templates unusable for this section of the catalog, as the look of each spread depended on the number and orientation of the broadsides that would be featured on them. We decided, however, that this is in our best interest, as the lack of uniformity will keep consumers from becoming bored and simply flip through the pages. I would say that has been the most challenging aspect I have faced so far—rivaling even the moment I realized I would have to retake all of the photos I’d snapped because the sun had produced a glare on the framed broadsides.
Now, four months later, the catalog is undergoing round after round of proofreading. With an adjustment of an image placement here and a center-justify there, it is almost ready to go to print! I would say that the majority of my time as Press Intern has overlapped significantly with my previous job as Student Editor, but I have picked up some sales and marketing tips along the way, including an understanding of bookseller discounts and return policies. In the coming weeks I will be compiling a list of all bookstores within a 200-mile radius of the Literary House in order to get an idea of who we will be sending our catalog to, as well as draft a letter of introduction. I’m looking forward to how the rest of the semester will go, and can’t wait to have the catalog in its tangible, page-turning form.