Name: Bryan Christian
Title: Marketing Manager
Company: Simon & Schuster (New York, NY) (a division of Viacom)
Education: B.A. in History from Blackburn College
After college, I had several jobs from working at a law firm to waiting tables, but having grown up in Ann Arbor, Mich. I had grown up surrounded by Borders Books & Music, since that is where the first store was built and where the corporate headquarters are located. I worked in the stores in several capacities, but mostly as a bookseller in the fiction category since that is where my reading interests are. After working in the store for several years, I began to work in the co-op advertising group in the Borders marketing department, working on in-store promotions and several genre-related projects. In this position I had constant exposure to all of the publishers and decided that was the direction that I wanted to go.
My job basically has two facets – creating marketing campaigns for new titles and cultivating sales channels. Each person in the marketing department here at Simon & Schuster is assigned to a specific imprint. Mine is Free Press – we publish fiction from authors such as Larry Brown and Haven Kimmel and nonfiction, including mega-bestsellers from Suze Orman and Dr. Phil McGraw. In this part of my job, I work title-to-title producing and implementing marketing campaigns for each new book.
The other component of my job is my sales channel work. I have two areas that I focus on – Borders Group (which includes Borders Books & Music and Waldenbooks) and all independent bookstores across the country. In this part of my job, I work with individual bookstores and booksellers (from bookseller to general manager to district manager) providing them with reading materials, promotional materials, anything that they think they might need or want. This part of my job allows me to find out what books are working in specific areas, which stores have reading groups, all sorts of grass roots information that help us market and publish better.
Describe Your Day Today
I’m usually in the office by 8:30 and leave between 5:30 and 6:00 depending on the day. Throughout the course of the day I receive up to 75 e-mails (either from stores or just internal publicity updates, etc.), and receive about five to ten phone calls per day. I spend a great deal of time writing and editing our bookseller newsletters, and drafting copy for promotional materials. There is also a certain amount of time that is devoted to meetings, either learning about the upcoming titles or reviewing them. I definitely spend a great deal of time writing notes to booksellers – “hey, read this and thought you might enjoy it, let me know what you think” etc., – things of that nature.
Favorite Part of Job
Definitely the bookstore contact. I love finding the right book for the right reader. When you find that perfect person, you know that they are going to handsell (which is the term we give to booksellers who use word of mouth to press books into consumers’ hands). I love building a sense of community among booksellers, getting them excited about what’s coming out and making them feel that they are a part of the process, because they are our last line between the books hitting the tables in stores to the consumers’ hands. I love receiving their feedback. It makes our publishers and authors feel good to hear from the people out there reading their books.
Least Favorite Part of Job
A lot of my job involves writing a lot of notes, filling out a lot of mailing labels, things like that, which can be pretty boring despite the fact that it is an essential part of getting the kind of feedback that I need. Actually, I feel pretty grateful since, if that is the worst part of my job, I have it pretty good.
You definitely have to stay on top of what is going on in publishing – read everything from The New York Times Book Review to Entertainment Weekly. Pick up Publishers Weekly (which is our weekly trade magazine) to look for jobs or to find out what the trends are. There are plenty of open houses and internship programs to take advantage of. Publishing is definitely an industry where “who you know” matters. Try to meet writers, editors, anyone you can, and then stay in touch with them. You’d be surprised at how many times someone will call you up and say “so-and-so gave me your name and number….” Obviously, you have to have a passion for the books as well, that should go without saying.