Monday, January 12, 2009

Introducing Ms. Sally Spitfire!

Every Monday, the Book Roast will post letters from publishing insider Ms. Sally Spitfire.

Ms. Spitfire is full of mystery and intrigue. (That is why we can't tell you her real name.) But we do know some things about her. For example, when not tutoring Antonio or smoking in the bathroom, she is busy churning out bestsellers and keeping her authors happy.

Her letters will be informative, fun, and full of juicy tidbits! Please drop by with your comments and questions!

Without further ado, the first letter to Miss Susanna, Ms. Spitfire's country cousin:


My dearest Suzy-Q,

I propose a new addition to our vocabulary for 2009: TGIMITTW. A little unwieldy, perhaps, but it is a noble sentiment. ""Thank God I made it through this week!" I don't mean to sound melodramatic, but seriously, Suzy, the first week back after the winter holidays in the publishing world is one of catastrophe, of 6,000 unread emails, and of playing catch-up as if your life depended on it. (Which, in the current economic climate, it might. But I'm getting ahead of myself...)

So, to answer your question, my week was let's say... very, very intense. I had at least three times as much to do as usual and, thanks to a whole slew of day-long launch meetings, barely half the usual amount of time to do them in. On the bright side, launch meetings are one of my favorite times of the publishing season. Have I every explained launch meetings or seasons to you before?

Basically, at big publishing houses like mine, the year is divided into three seasons--winter, fall, and spring/summer--and every book is assigned to one of these three. So, although the common bookstore browser would never know, we publishing folk live our lives by a cycle that repeats three times a year and, for me in marketing, the cycle begins with... drum roll please... the launch meetings!

Basically, the launch meetings are when each editor officially announces which books he or she will be publishing in the next season. It's the editor's opportunity to really win over the marketing, publicity, and creative services teams that THIS book is fantastic! This book deserves special attention and excitement! This book is going to be a BEST SELLER.

Maybe I exaggerate. Not every book is introduced as a future best-seller. But, just like a parent with a child, it is an editors job to believe that every book is truly special and to convince (or dupe) everyone else working on the book to believe the same. Suzy, dear, I simply LOVE watching the editors enter the fray for their--as of yet--manuscript-bound book-babies. To me they seem like old-fashioned knights defending their fair maidens...

Even better, perhaps, is that launch heralds the beginning of my role in the publishing process. Once we learn which new books are coming out, each book is assigned to one marketing manager...

But oh my! I have rambled on, haven't I? Suzy, dear, I'm so glad you wrote! Hearing from you simply made my day and I've decided to make it my New Year's resolution to keep you up to date on my life and career here in the "big city," as "y'all" call in down there. It makes me smile to picture you sipping Aunt Callie's sweet tea as you read...

Your lovin' cousin,(Miss) Sally S

P.S. I almost forgot to tell you about the uber-delicious Christmas present I gave to myself this year... a new assistant! His name is Antonio and although he's new to publishing (and the English language in general, from what I can tell), I know you would approve. After all, what are assistants for if not to help us do our jobs better? And I know seeing him each day will do exactly that... More on this next time I write...



*************************************************************************

Let's give Ms. Spitfire a big welcome to the Book Roast! And feel free to ask questions--she may use your questions for future posts!!

Many thanks!

65 comments:

Chris Eldin said...

I couldn't wait until 9am!! I'm too excited!
Welcome, everyone, to the re-launch of the Book Roast.
Sit back, grab a burger and a beer from our menu (feel free to bring your own cheese and wine), and let's get started!!
:-)

laughingwolf said...

welcome, sally, to the re-launch... no, it's NOT the launch you touched upon... :P ...ours is just as exciting, though ;)

with the economy heading deeper into the tank, what's your take on new writers getting a bit of a break?

chris, as always, you do a standup job, with your assistants' help :D

Miss Susanna said...

Oh Sally, I'm just delighted to see your letter. Delighted! Y'all sound so busy. I do worry, and Mama does too, that you're not eatin' 'nuff. I'm sending up some of Miss Norma-Jean's peach cobbler (she sends her love btw).
We all miss you so much. I'm off to take Miss Chloe for her mornin' walk. Will stop back and visit some more later.
OH - Antonio is just as sweet as honey!
Susanna

peggy said...

Good morning everyone, this is going to be such fun I can tell. Glad the book roast is back! Welcome Ms. Sally, nice to meet you:)

Charles Gramlich said...

Welcome, welcome. I wonder why spring/summer is one season. I can see summer as the "beach reading" season but spring would seem to have it's own energies. The renewal of romantic energies perhaps.

Antonio said...

I amma smiling to be here in the Booka Roast. Signorina Speetfire she haffa many works for me today. I amma return later to see jor poots.

Ciao
Antonio

Antonio said...

Oops. Signorina Speetfire she say no no Antonio iz posts not poots. I amma return later to see jor posts.

Robin said...

Welcome Ms. Sally! My groovy question is - is the doom and gloom forcasted for the publishing industry just residual negativity from our general economic problems, or the real McCoy? I wanted to submit something, but my agent assured me that "it's not a good time". I felt like I was asking to use the family car while my parents were having a big fight.

Josephine Damian said...

Does Antonio wear a turban and ride a camel? If not, he'll have to try harder to please me.

But of course all that matters is that he keeps his boss happy.

Chris Eldin said...

Thanks for dropping by everyone!!

JD, you will have to click on Antonio's blog and watch the YouTube. He does not need a camel. hehehe

Chris Eldin said...

Robin, You need a hotter agent. Someone with long, dark locks and bulging biceps...

Susan Adrian said...

Oh, I love Antonio. I want an Antonio myself. My shoulders, they are so tense...

Welcome Sally!

Sounds like if you're busy, maybe things are settling down to business in NYC again?

strugglingwriter said...

TGIMITTW is good. I need TGIMITTD though. (thank....I made it through the day!)

Stephen Parrish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Eldin said...

Susan, something may be worked out...
:-)

StrugglingWriter, Yes. Some days and weeks need naming.
:-)

Shteef, Not you. Definitely not you. Anyway, writer's belly is attractive. Not something to worry about.
;-)

Sarah Laurenson said...

Woo Hoo. Roasting time. Got my grill fork ready to poke me an author. But first, time to say thanks to Sally Spitfire for a great kick off to this week of grilling.

Chris Eldin said...

Hey! Steve removed his post about Antonio.
Now, I've never known him to be shy.....
:-)

peggy said...

maybe it was an accident ;)

Janet Reid said...

Nice book roast re-launch! Congrats all around!

Chris Eldin said...

Hi Peggy!

Thanks Janet!
:-)

Ms. Sally S. said...

Hello all! Thank you for your generous words of welcome. I've been reading them on the sly all morning here in my office, but decided to be strong and wait until lunch break to reply. :) Thanks especially to those who have already started posting questions--I hope that doing so will quickly become a regular reader habit!

jason evans said...

Sally, holy heck, I feel for you with all those emails stacked up! We can split them up and each respond to a few! ;)

Welcome! I trust you'll have a blast.

Miss Susanna said...

Dear Sally,

Oh sugar - Antonio is just precious.

My word, I simply must get up to the big city for a visit soon. Of course, I do believe I'll wait till it's a bit warmer. Speaking of warmth, your Auntie Mayble Sue Jean, just finished knitting an adorable shawl. It will be arriving with the peach cobbler.

Miss You!

Barrie said...

Good morning, Miss Sally! (Yes, it's still morning in my neck of the woods) It's a pleasure to meet you and Antonio. A question: what do editors do at launch meetings to drum up enthusiasm for their particular babies? Show off cute covers? Provide treats? Serve sweet tea?

laughingwolf said...

sally, awaiting your return... unlike some out there, no BAITED breath... i DO know how to spell 'bated', but mine's 'wuffy' clean :O lol

M. G. Tarquini said...

Dear Antonio,

Are you available for lunch? Possibly dinner? Drinks before? Drinks after? I have this amazingly probably bestselling fiction novel to tell you about and a couple of etchings to show you.

P.S. Bring your boss, too, of course. Love to have her. Ms...What's her name again?

peggy said...

Hi Chris :)
I just love the relaunch too. I bet Sally will have the answers to all lifes important questions ;) Like what genre will be hot for 2009?
among others, like world peace etc LOL

Julie Weathers said...

No fair, Chris. I kept looking yesterday and then decided you were going to stick to your guns.

Welcome, Miss Sally. I hope you'll be around a long time. I'll send some fresh monkey bread as a welcoming gift.


I've noticed a lot of agents recently saying they want fantasy, but not epic fantasy? Is this an individual thing or a general trend?

Thanks,

Julie

Merry Monteleone said...

Great job on the re-launch, Chris.

Nice to meet you, Ms. Spitfire! No questions right now, but give me some time.

Kiersten said...

Well, Hi Ms. Sally!

I'm sure if I weren't in the middle of writing a new manuscript to distract myself from the fact that my agent is currently submitting my old manuscript to people just like you (and hopefully a LOT like Antonio) I could think of some intelligent questions.

As it is, hoorah for the Book Roast, and I look forward to more lovely letters from your lovely self.

Stephen Parrish said...

Where did that Antonio guy go? Probably looking for a shirt that has buttons.

Antonio said...

Izza me Antonio again! I amma so happy to see jor posts!

Josephine Damian you haff been talking to Signorina Speetfire. No? I think sheeza been telling you about Turban Tuesdays? Yes?

Susan Adrian I amma good witha shoulders. I love you too!

Signorina Susanna Speetfire I haffa hard a lot about you from jor sister! I hope we meet so soon!

M.G. Tarquini so many a questions! I amma simple man. I will aska Signorina Speetfire about lunch. I canna cook for us. Signorina Speetfire she lika my meatballs.

Stephen Parrish my boss Signorina Speetfire she haffa strict eh... how you say? Dressa code? She say buttons onna shirt for assistant izza unprofessional. Sheeza very smart so I do what she say.

Chris Eldin said...

LOL! I wonder what kind of English Antonio is going to learn from ya'll!

It's coming up on happy hour.
:-)

Brenda Bradshaw said...

Wow... Antonio. No words, really. Just wow.

Hi Ms. Sally, and thank you for taking time out of your day to answer our questions. Mine is the trend of paranormal. Is it still moving hot and heavy? I'd heard historical romance was almost dead, but know of two authors (debut, no less) who have gotten amazing sales with historicals. And what about "traditional" contemporary romance? How does that seem to be holding out?

Chris, the grill is smokin' hot! Looks great!

peggy said...

happy hour? Is that the same as beer thirty?

Brenda Bradshaw said...

No comments about how I didn't show up until it was happy hour.

And I promise my bedhead'edness is not because I just woke up at 2pm. Okay, almost promise. Ignore my yawning too. Where's the liquor?!

the Amateur Book Blogger said...

Cracking start BR - welcome back! Looking forward to hearing more from Ms. Spitfire - or is it Mrs?

I am wondering, what's the lead time on your launch meetings? Ie: "the year is divided into three seasons--winter, fall, and spring/summer--and every book is assigned to one of these three."

Say, if you go to Book Fairs (London in Spring, and Frankfurt in Fall) when would the book rights be sold at the Fair? Is it published and launched first in one place or are rights sold elsewhere first?

laughingwolf said...

snowing here... again? still?

on top of the foot that dumped sunday :O

needs must cozy up to that grill, even if only in my bean....

Beth said...

Welcome, Ms. Sally, but I must admit, Antonio's comments in this section stole the show. Too hilarious! Was that you or Chris? Too precious!

Chris Eldin said...

LOL!
Beth, honey, Antonio is all male. That's all I can say.
;-)

Ms. Sally S. said...

Suzy! I can't decide whether I'm grateful to you for sending up some of NJ's cobbler or annoyed with you for setting my tummy to rumbling on a busy Monday. You KNOW how hungry I get mid-morning with now a cobbler or a sweet tea in sight! I'm missing you loads and loads and make sure you give all my love to everyone your way. Tell them I'm surviving the winter; I know how they worry about these me in this sub-southern weather.

spyscribbler said...

Welcome, Ms. Sally Spitfire! Antonio sounds like a dream. :-) He's making me hungry!

Yay on the New Year's launch, Chris!

Miss Susanna said...

Oh sugar, you just know I will. Stay warm Sally. And the rest of y'all too. Except for Antonio, he's already quite warm I think

m-stiefvater said...

Man, I love learning something new . . . especially about the business I'm in. Thanks for this -- I didn't know when the marketing folks came into the equation!

Robin S. said...

Hi, Ms Spitfire!

Welcome!

I have a question concerning book covers. Is it all right for an author to request a certain book cover after the book has been acquired?

Shona Snowden said...

Welcome, Sally! Great post. I didn't know about launch seasons.

Loving your assistant. Perhaps we could give Antonio away as a prize? Book Roast team to be eligible for that one, of course.

VE said...

I'm here and ready for a book roast. Are books vegan by-the-way?

Eric said...

Hey there, Ms. Spitfire,
I'm tomorrow's roastee. Any pointers?

Oh, and VE, my books are decidedly un-vegan.

But wait, I don't know, maybe they are. Perhaps they use soy-based inks to print them. They aren't leather-bound. Although I have been trying to talk my publisher into some fancy editions.

Hmmm, I'm signing in here tomorrow at 6am my time. I suppose I'll set the espresso maker up before I go to bed. See you then.

Sarah Hina said...

Welcome, Ms. Sally! Looking forward to all of your (and Antonio's) future visits.

Good to see all the regulars too, Chris. :) Congrats on the re-launch!!

Chris Eldin said...

I'm so happy everyone is finding a moment to say hello to Ms. Sally! She has some interesting ideas for future posts. Can't say too much or that would spoil the fun!
:-)

cindy said...

loved ms spitfire's ramblings!

and i think that antonio may be your best acquisition yet!! haha!!

cindy said...

i have a legitimate question! i'm seriously considering hiring a publicist for my debut novel. (i'll discuss with my editor, of course.)

how do you feel about this?

and esp if i got one that looked like antonio. =D

Gary Corby said...

Hey Eric, on what I'm reading, I'd say your best bet for tomorrow is to change your photo to one displaying your bare chest.

This could be an interesting new trend in author photography.

Good luck!

Chris Eldin said...

I second Gary's suggestion!
:-)


I want to thank everyone for welcoming Ms. Sally!! Be sure to come back next Monday!

Thank you, Ms. Sally, for sharing a piece of your world. We look forward to more!

Tomorrow, author Eric Stone will be on board. His excerpt is terrific, and he's a fun guy (even with the scary flames surrounding him). :-)

Robin S. said...

As usual, I read what I was supposed to read AFTER I opened my big mouth and posted a comment.

Ms. Sally, that was really interesting, and I guess it's too late now to ask, but it does beg the question (or, more precisely, I am begging for an answer to my question...) is there a 'better' season to shoot for, and, does one of these launch seasons link up with a particular publishing time of year as well?

Traci said...

I want Antonio, Ms. Spitfire, and I am prepared to arm wrestle you for him. I can pay in wine -lots of wine, lol. Seriously - great post, and I learned a new acronym as well as the three season thing. Why shouldn't publishing be different from the real world???

Great launch, Chris!
Traci

Phoenix said...

I'm late. I'm late! Are you still open? Is the dishwasher still around at least?

Oh my, look at the place. Amazing what a little dusting, furniture rearranging and muscleman will do for the atmosphere. Kudos all!

Ms. Sally -- welcome!

A question for a future post perhaps: I've heard that some publishers are enforcing strict word counts these days (Harlequin nixing anything over 100K comes to mind). Is this cost-saving measure something we'll be seeing more of in the industry? And/Or will publishers be looking more seriously at ebooks if the economy doesn't improve soon?

thedomesticfringe said...

This is my first visit to The Book Roast and I've enjoyed your post. It's been nice to meet you Ms. Sally.
-FringeGirl

cindy said...

gary, GREAT IDEA ! i think we should ALL swap our avatar fotos with our bared chests. YEAH!!!

Ms. Sally Spitfire said...

Dearest Suzy, Wow! SO many fabulous questions! Be reassured that I will keep all of them in mind when I write to you next week. I have some answers, I have some rice pudding, and I miss you loads. I'll answer what I can, but all in good time... all in good time... Oh, and did I tell you that Antonio can lift his weight in, ummm, boxes of books? Love you, dearest. More soon!

PJ said...

Sally - pleased to meet you! Your post reminds me of Satre's early work - aesthetically textured with underlying hints of rambunctious quizzicality. Marvelous!

I have questions, many questions, but none are ready for asking yet (they're like little cupcakes still in the oven - half-baked! ("LOL" as the kids say these days, I think)). But when they're ready I'll definitely ask them. Great job on the first post - looking forward to your subsequent installments!

Sam said...

Welcome Sally! I was fascinated to hear about the publishing cycles. It must make work very hectic though - knowing you have to wrap up one before embarking upon another!
I'm looking forward to hearing more!

freddie said...

I actually have a question for Antonio. Being from Italy, can you please explain why cappuccino is so expensive? It's a cup of foam, basically. What's up with that?

Julie Weathers said...

Not sure where the post went about linking to the grand opening, but just to let you know I am linking it to my blog.

Darcie said...

Ms Spitfire - love your post and i am looking forward to more!