Behind the Pages: Q&A with an Orca sales manager!

We’re taking you #BehindThePages again with another member of the Orca pod! This series of blog posts consists of interviews with different Orca employees sharing what it’s like to work in their role at a book publisher. Check out what a day on the job is like for sales manager Janet Murie!

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1. In a sentence or two, can you explain your role at Orca Book Publishers? 

I sell books to public libraries and library wholesalers, and a few other things thrown in as needed. I’m also a Dewey Diva, which means a lot of public speaking to large groups of librarians and teachers. 

2. What does an average day in your job look like? 

BC (Before COVID) my days were very different – lots of visiting library systems, lots of travel, some conferences. Now it’s similar but all from home via zoom and phone. I really miss seeing people in person! 

3. Did you always know you wanted to work in book publishing? If not, how did you end up at Orca? 

I didn’t know this was even a job until I worked at the bookstore at Simon Fraser University doing special orders. Then I wanted to be an editor, but before that could happen I learned how much I love selling books. I wound up at Orca because I used to work with Ruth Linka at Raincoast—this is a very small business, and it’s not unusual to find yourself working with some of the same people at different companies. 

4. What makes you good at working in sales? 

People think that to sell something you need to talk fast and a lot, but I think the thing that is most helpful to me in this job is that I am a good and active listener. 

5. What is something that most people don’t realize about your job?

Talking to people about books is very intimate—when you are talking with people about books you love, people disclose a lot of information about themselves. It’s really lovely and lets you get to know your customers very quickly. I’ve also learned that some of my customers think the entirety of my job is reading all day and taking people for lunch! (It isn’t.) 

6. What non-Orca book have you read recently that you would recommend? 

I recently read The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead and loved it, am very excited to read Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell and The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante, and a friend just sent me a copy of Land’s End: A Walk in Provincetown by Michael Cunningham. My to-be-read pile is bottomless! 

7. Is there anything interesting you’ve learned about book publishing since you started working at Orca? 

Orca is small enough that I can really see that we are more than the sum of our parts because every part is so important and necessary. There are a lot of young and talented people here, and it’s good to know the industry will be in such good hands as so many of us are aging out.

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