Kristen Lloyd, events coordinator at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, N.C., put forward Sherry Virtz for sales rep of the year because, she wrote in her nomination, the Penguin Random House district sales manager “is an incredible rep and person” who goes above and beyond “on an incredibly personal level” to support her accounts.

“We had a 1,000-attendee event this past September,” Lloyd wrote. “PRH did not ship us the books in time for the event; it was a nightmare. Sherry worked around the clock to support us through the ordeal.”

It’s no surprise that Virtz would know what to do in such a situation: she has spent 34 years working for PRH at its facility in her hometown of Westminster, Md. Virtz started there picking books while she was still in high school.. After graduation, she applied for an in-house sales department position and was hired to sell Bantam mass market titles over the phone. A field rep position handling indie bookstores from Pennsylvania through North Carolina opened up 18 years ago, and Virtz has been happily working with approximately 26 individual accounts ever since. She especially enjoys introducing her accounts to books she’s “fallen in love with” by debut and emerging authors, such as Anthony Marra’s first novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (2013). More recently, she accompanied author Angie Kim—who moved from S&S to PRH to publish her second novel, Happiness Falls (2023)on a visit to the indies in Virtz’s territory to promote the book and create what she calls “that extra enthusiasm and ownership” for Kim among booksellers.

“What I love most is, every season, you have a new batch of loves and challenges,” Virtz says, “Publishing is always evolving, the indie channel is always evolving, so it never feels like you are doing the same thing, year after year. You are always able to create something each season.”