Blogger: Wendy Lawton
I’m just back from a ten-day, twelve-event Lauraine Snelling Book Tour. We drove 1585 miles, made hundreds of connections and listened to just as many stories. As I posted several of the events on Facebook many commented that it seemed above and beyond for an agent to accompany a client on an extensive tour. It’s not unusual for me– I went with Julie Klassen on tour just six months earlier.
So why do I go, aside from the fun of road trips and the connection with my clients? Why that many days out of the office? And does it take away from my other clients? Absolutely not. It’s one of the most important things I can do. It is The Listening Tour. An agent needs to know what is happening at retail— what struggles the stores are facing. What is working? What can we do to help? What trends do they see on the horizon? As my clients are autographing books and visiting with readers I’m talking to the store owners, studying the shelves, questioning the frontliners– the sales staff. I jot notes so I can remember everything to bring back to our agent meetings. I’m listening. Hard.
The library events are equally important. We’ve met some of the most savvy book lovers among librarians. They know books and they know their patrons. They are pros at answering questions. And they are generous in sharing their expertise. All the time my writer is at work, I’m asking and listening.
The third population I listen to are the readers themselves. I need to know what they are reading, thinking, buying. This is the fun part. Those of us in the industry are many layers removed from the end user. Nothing is more important for an industry professional to get out there and listen. To soak it up.
Next Tuesday– my weekly blog day– I’m going to talk more about author tours. Which authors can be successful at them and which cannot. I’m also going to talk about what makes an outstanding tour. So stay tuned.
The crazy part of this story is that Lauraine’s tour came just a few days after I got home from ICRS– our grueling annual trade show, The International Christian Retail Show. All the agents from our agency attended. Before we ever stepped foot on our airplanes we dubbed this year The Listening Tour. We had projects to pitch and issues to discuss but our primary purpose this year was to sit down with the editors and publishers and listen. What are their challenges this year? What do they need? What trends are they spotting? What’s working and what’s not. We came away a whole lot smarter, equipped to guide our clients to meet the needs of the market and the publishers. It’s all about listening.
So was it worth it? I’ve slept in six or seven different hotels over the last month, packed and unpacked dozens of times, schlepped half a ton of bookmarks and gifts, driven hours each day, walked miles on convention floors, rushed to and from meetings, grabbed Dairy Queen at 10:00 PM because it was the first chance we had to stop and the only restaurant open, come home to over 500 emails and dozens of phone messages. Was it worth it? Yes! A resounding yes. I’m so much smarter now than I was a month ago– well, at least so much more well informed. I have valuable information to pass on to my clients. Things that can only be known when one sets out to listen. I highly recommend The Listening Tour.
But I’m preaching to the choir, right? If you didn’t believe in listening you wouldn’t be one of our blog followers. Tell us about your own listening tours.
Listening. Lit agent @wendylawton says it’s the most important thing your agent does. Click to Tweet