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It ain't what it used to be...

Yes, the children’s book sales conference used to look like this in the 1970s. At least it did at G.P. Putnams where I worked for the Coward, McCann imprint.

This was back when all the reps were men and the children’s book department was looked down upon, if not scorned, by the “adult” editors who swaggered around the place. In those days, it was a well-kept secret that the children's books brought in the money.

So we were the absolute last presenters at the week-long debauchery known as the sales conference, and we were relegated to a windowless room at our 200 Madison offices—not the swank hotel where most of the action occurred

As I worked on the watercolor above, I could see myself, in pink, sitting next to my boss, editorial director F.N. Monjo.

At one memorable sales conference, Mr. Monjo presented a book he believed would captivate the world: When Daisies Pied and Violets Blue: Songs from Shakespeare by Mary Chalmers.

Getting Mary Chalmers to do a book for us had been a coup. Mr. Monjo had worked hard to woo her from Harper & Row where she’d become famed for her sweet books about bunny rabbits. He poured his heart out, trying to share his enthusiasm with the reps.

To no avail.


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