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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What My New Job Is Like, Part III

I am getting ready to head back out on the road! This season I am hoping to drive slightly fewer than the 5000+ miles I did last season as I have a lot less 1-store days and I think I've planned my trip smarter. We'll see. I know the planning part would annoy most people but to me, it's like a puzzle. I actually enjoy trying to figure out how to fit everyone in, in the most efficient way possible. Now, the most efficient way almost never works out. This season I had to plan my travel schedule around 2 trade shows (one is nearby but the other is in New Orleans, very far from home and my territory), 2 (now 3) family visiting me trips, 2 public holidays (yes, Columbus Day isn't a big deal in most of my territory but the further north I get, the more likely it is a factor), my anniversary, my husband's birthday, and of course trying to get it all done before the next Sales Conference. I have a couple of beach stores I can't visit until after Labor Day, and a couple of college stores when I need to avoid back-to-school time. Theoretically, with roughly 40 accounts to visit, if I can do 2 a day, that's 20 days so I should be able to do it in a month. It never works out that way, though. A few stores are just too far away (Norfolk, VA; Sylva, NC) from anything else, and some are too big to do more than the one in a day. And sometimes the store managers have conflicts. It will all get sorted of course, but it can be tricky to manage. Luckily, I really like puzzles.

I also had to get together all the materials I need. The most important thing I bring along is ARCs. It's true that I don't have to bring them at all—stores can make requests and I will order the ARCs to be sent directly from our warehouse. But they might not request a book they're borderline about. And they get ARCs from scores of publishers. It's easy for the buyers to get bogged down. But if we just talked about a book and I got them excited about it, and then I hand it to them, it's a lot more likely that they'll read it (hopefully starting that day!) Some books also really need a visual aid, whether it's a heavily illustrated adult book, or a kids' book with flaps and windows and other features that are more easily shown than described. So I have two boxes in my trunk, one of adult books and one of children's. I try to be paperless, but some things just work better in hard copy, so I print off the stock offers (those are extra discounts for a certain time frame) and a list of all the displays and signed books this season, and for this season only also a list of all the books that our publishers are promoting in the regional holiday catalogs that stores will be handing out to customers this fall. I used to have to also print off all my maps for each week and I'm sure glad that task is no longer necessary. I have to stock up on my audiobooks. I have several CDs from work, but I also like to listen to downloaded ones, especially for my week in DC where I'm traveling by foot and public transit, and not in my car. About half of the audiobooks are work-related, and then, since options are limited, I also give myself a break and listen to some from other publishers.

When I pack, my toiletry kit needs to be fully stocked. Long ago I just got two of everything (except my prescriptions) and I treated myself this spring to a whole new toiletry kit. I need pretty but practical shoes (sometimes I have to walk a bit. In fact, even when parking is readily available, I always try to park further back, leaving the good spaces for paying customers.) Band-aids and other possible first-aid items. I need an umbrella and a jacket and workout clothes (although I have a knee injury so I am not able to work out much right now.) Again, all this packing and planning really appeals to the hyper-efficient side of my personality. I blame the Germans. I've also been to the dentist and optometrist, picked up my prescriptions, gotten a haircut, and scheduled my next doctor's appointment. These are all things i need to schedule in between travel seasons. I do still need to plan my main outfits and be sure nothing needs to be dry-cleaned.

I do wish on the road that I had time to visit some of the attractions. One of these days in DC I at least want to visit the museum shops I sell to (I sell to the buyers in their corporate offices, not at the stores.) But I figure I've got plenty of time for that. I really wish I could come up with some snacks that aren't candy or other low-health high-calorie foods that can live in the car. Yes, I eat nuts (and those are high in calories) but when I look up low-cal snacks, it's entirely stuff that needs to be refrigerated/heated/prepared immediately before eating. Nothing I can just grab a handful of and munch on while stuck on the Garden State Parkway. And no, I'm not going to get a cooler for my car. That's just not practical.

I do love to travel, thankfully! I won't like it as much in two months, but then I'll get a break again. This is the life of a sales rep!

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