If you’ve met a writer of nearly any kind of book, you’ve probably met someone who loves the idea of sitting alone at their desk, hiding from the world, creating their lush stories with only their cat for company.
You’ve probably met someone who is nervous in crowds, has trouble presenting themselves at all and would absolutely die if they had to “promote” or “market” their stories in any way. It’s bad enough that these poor writers have to leave their laptops and solitary existences and venture out into daylight, but to have them become salesmen? It’s enough to make them want to drown their sorrows in whiskey. Or coffee. Or coffee with whiskey in it.
Unfortunately, if writers are to ever have success in this extremely competitive field, marketing is a necessity.
Of those brave writers who actually do step their toe into the shark-infested waters of sales, many of them think that blasting a few hundred tweets will be all they need to make a ton of money. Or maybe they could DM every follower and say, “here’s a free sample” or “please, please, if you don’t read my book, I’ll drink a cup of bleach.” (That last one actually happened to me. I’m pretty sure the author was bluffing.) Or maybe they’ll do something less virtual and stick bookmarks in library books, business cards under the windshield wipers of parked cars or sky write the title of their book over a baseball game.
Generally speaking, a lot of us think that we should sell our books the way that we saw salesmen work as we were growing up in the ’70s and ’80s.
We knew that local used car salesmen were smarmy. We understood that our mothers bought Avon because the neighbor lady wouldn’t leave her alone. We sold items ourselves by marching up and down our block with chocolate bars, calendars, wrapping paper or Girl Scout cookies — knocking on doors and point blank asking, “Would You Like To Buy?”
In the book, To Sell Is Human, Author Daniel H. Pink Suggests That The Information Age Requires A New Perspective of Marketing
If we still embrace the old tactics, ones from the used car salesman or the Avon lady or the kid with the Dorothy Hamill haircut, then we’re sending out very negative message to our potential customers. It doesn’t help that what we’re selling is art. It’s not a used car nor cheap perfume in a uniquely shaped bottle or Thin Mints.
Art is, arguably, not a necessity. Art has a unique place in the world: to entertain, to edify and to inspire. Good art touches the soul. So why, if we are sellers of art, do we ignore the soul our potential readers?
If writers’ only marketing strategy is to lambast the world with “buy this” tweets or auto DMs or any other annoying, repetitive, empty hard sell strategy — one that ignores who their readers are as humans — then they will be disappointed in the results.
So I suggest rethinking your strategy. How can you engage people instead? Are you sure that your art is good enough so that the selling will be easier? Are you thinking about your readers, your buyers, as people and not just a fast buck?
To continue this conversation, check this blog out next week when we describe what hard sells communicate to the world.