The publishing world is changing these days, and until last week I was not particularly saddened or enraged by job cuts until my Simon & Schuster rep, Katie McGarry, was among the several field reps who were let go last week in favor of a telephone sales force.
What I can say is how much I enjoyed working with Katie over the past decade. Katie’s humor and smarts made meetings with her a joy. In the last few years we’d taken to having breakfast at Shelburne Farms talking about ourselves and a little bit about publishing. After breakfast we’d take our coffee to Adirondack chairs overlooking Lake Champlain and go through the samples and the catalogs. It was heavenly. Honestly, if you want me to buy more of your books, feed me a little first, and tell me what you love from your catalog.
Katie knew her books. Even when S&S restructured her job a few years and she did adult books as well, she hit the ground running and could speak conversantly about the entire list. And let me tell you, an S&S list is possibly the largest list out there — the kids’ catalog alone usually hits 300 pages. She took her time to get to know our store and what we stocked, so a 300-page catalog involved a lot of skips. There was never pressure to buy books. I would often buy books on the strength of her saying she loved it. Her descriptions of books were to the point, and she let me read the F&G’s without talking about what happened to the duck. She had her own opinions about the books and that was refreshing. She would always let me raid the back of her car for galleys. She never got mad when I lost my catalogs. She loved our dogs and they loved her (this can’t be said for everyone). I always felt like Katie was working for me, not the other way around. She finessed the system when trying to get us authors for events.
Last year, S&S restructured again and Katie’s territory changed. She called to say that she would no longer be our rep and I got choked up. I felt the loss of Katie immediately; I knew I had not only lost a great rep, but no longer would we have an excuse to have those wonderful breakfasts. Katie is just a lovely person, whose meetings I looked forward to, whose funny stories I loved hearing and would often repeat, who happened to just love books. She would handsell her catalog the way we handsell books in the store.
Katie is a great rep, and some smart publishing company, which realizes the value of two people sitting down face to face, should snap her up in a heartbeat, and make sure her territory includes Shelburne, Vermont.