Here is the next installment from the Meet Your Fellow Penguins! series highlighting success stories, tips and tricks, and more from our Penguin Random House reps across the country. Meet Amy Albert, our Random House rep in Upstate NY nominated this month!! Below she delves into her history as a rep, some really great advice for new reps, her favorite PRH titles, and more!
What is your favorite genre and/or book(s)?
I love reading biographies and historical fiction. On my to read list: The Heir Apparent by Jane Ridley, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (also happens to be one of Caroline’s FAVORITES and thinks everyone should read), and The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis.
What are you currently reading?
I’ve just read a slew of books about Freddie Mercury as the movie Bohemian Rhapsody made me curious to learn more about his life! I’ve also read many books which focus on American Heiresses who married into the British Aristocracy, including Edith Wharton’s; The Buccaneers. I just finished Becoming, by Michelle Obama which I devoured in one day.
How long have you been a rep?
I have been a Sales Representative for about 14 years. I started with Krikorian Miller in 2005 – I was so nervous about selling books but Tammy (the rep principal of Main Street Reps) told me to relax as she could teach anyone how to sell books – and I guess she was right as I love selling books!
What are your go-to books for an easy sell-in?
That really depends on what type of account I am working with. If I’m working with a better gift account, I tend to show the gifty books which are hardcover but under $30 Retail. I also focus on books that reflect the shop owners’ interests, be it stationery, art, photography, the written word, etc. One of my favorite books that published this year is Higher Etiquette by Liz Post (which, fun fact, as Amy pointed out to me is actually Emily Post’s great-great-granddaughter!). Some others: Art of the Handwritten Note and an especial favorite is The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. For Children’s, my favorites are, Dream Animals by Emily Winfield Martin–the artwork is beautiful–and I also LOVE the Jenny and the Cat Club Series by Esther Averill.
If I am working with a high-end home store, I immediately bring out the Rizzoli catalog. I try to point out books about the Hudson Valley as they do very well in this beautiful area that I work in. Titles that sell well for me are The Butler’s Guide to Running the Home and Other Graces, The Catskills, Historic Houses of the Hudson Valley, Life Along the Hudson, How to Read Houses, and Tiffany’s Table Manners for Teenagers.
In addition, I have favorite titles that I recommend to everyone – titles like…. The “Stuff’’ Series, The Q&A Series, The Parisian Chic Journals, Datebooks, and Guides, and of course Everyman’s Library Pocket Poet Books.
What tip would you offer to a new rep?
When you first go into a store, spend some time looking around. See what products, books, etc. they already carry. Then visualize how to fit your books into the space so that they seamlessly blend into the already existing merchandise, while making their product look even better by the addition of the books you recommend.
Another tip: Read those catalogs, make notes, know your books inside and out. Read the NY Times Book Reviews. The more knowledgeable you are, the more your customers will respect you. If you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to ask someone who does. There is always something to learn.
Finally, you’ll never know everything so don’t be afraid – just get out there and start selling. We have a great network of support at Main Street Reps. The other Reps are always ready to generously provide assistance and help, plus Tammy is a wealth of knowledge, especially when it comes to publishing!
What is your favorite resource to use while selling?
I love using the catalogs. They are such an essential visual tool. I also bring in a lot of book samples. The samples sell the books. I also use Edelweiss if a customer is looking for a specific genre. However, most of my buyers are old school and they need that printed catalog to study, make notes, and refer back to again and again.
What’s a new store/ existing account you’re really excited about and why?
I’ve been really pleased with watching Shop Little House in Woodstock grow. I actually helped the owner look for a retail space and then assisted her in unpacking and putting things on the shelf before she opened. I played an integral part in helping her curate her book selection. It has been gratifying to see the owner become a savvy buyer and increase her sales through skillful and visually stunning merchandising.
Share a success story with us!
I’m pleased that many of my customers refer to me as the “Book Lady.” I have built up a group of customers that I work closely with and value my input and suggestions. One of my customer’s said to me. “You’ve never led me astray.” I think that’s the highest compliment a Sales Representative can receive.
Interested in being highlighted next in this series? Reach out to us or nominate a colleague you would like to hear from and know others would benefit from! We’ll be touching base with reps who go above and beyond for future installments.