As soon as a literary agent has sold a publisher a book, and even
before it’s edited, copy-edited, proofread and indexed, the publicity
wheels start turning. While writers bite their nails, the book editor
tries to persuade the in-house sales representatives to get excited
about the book, the sales representatives try to persuade retail buyers
to get excited, and the retail buyers decide how many copies to buy and
whether to feature the book in a prominent front-of-the-store display,
for which publishers pay dearly. In the meantime, the publisher’s
publicity department tries to persuade magazine editors and television
producers to feature the book or its author around the publication
date, often giving elaborate lunches and parties months in advance to
drum up interest…

…once a book hits the market, the product has to move. “For all the
weeks and months that go into the gestation of the book, we’re up
against the so-called lettuce test once we get into the stores,”
Kirshbaum said. “If we don’t get sales fast, the book wilts.”


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