Marketing,  Self-Publishing,  Social Media,  Twitter

Three Things You’re Telling The World When You Attempt A Hard Sell

If You're Selling Like Your Grandfather did at the appliance store, then you're doing it wrong

Why Is Marketing Such A Dirty Word For Writers?

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.

I Love Writing My Book, I Just Don’t Want To Market 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.

 These are all variations of a hard sell. 

In the broadest sense, a hard sell means pushing a product to potential customers. 

Three Things You're Telling The World When You Attempt A Hard Sell

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?”

We know how to hard sell. And it doesn’t work anymore.

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.

Where Can I Learn To Market My Book?
Daniel H. Pink’s To Sell Is Human

Here’s What A Hard Sell Communicates To The World:

You Don’t Respect Other’s Time:

 I’m sure that all of the free samples and links that come into my in box mean well. The writers who put them there think that this is a great way to get my attention. But it takes time to open links and read samples, time I have too little of as it is. It would be far more worth my time if this writer took time for me first — get to know me, engage in conversation and me glad I spend a few seconds interacting with another writers. On a side note, I think this is the biggest problem I have with TrueTwit validation services. People who use this are shouting to the world that their protection against spambots is far more valuable than the time of the people who have to “validate.” This does not touch my soul. It’s annoying and disrespectful.

That You Are Flaunting The Power You Think You Have:

  Daniel H. Pink suggests that in the old economy salesmen were the experts. They knew the ins and outs of the washing machine or the moisturizer. Customers had no choice but to believe their authority. Sellers had all the power. They could flaunt this power and a buyer was willing to be charmed by it. But with the vast information at all of our fingertips, consumers have never been better informed, now the power is balanced. Writers were once an elite group and the world was happy to read anything they published. Now anybody and everybody can publish, so writers, as a group, have far less power and less authority. Buyers now have all the power. Wise writers understand this and change their marketing strategy to reflect it. Wise writers know that humility and transparency allow their humanness to be seen and this will make them more attractive to readers. 

That You’re Blind To What’s Important:

 In To Sell Is Human Pink mentions that old sales adage “Always Be Closing,” and adage coined for the hard core, pushy shark who wants nothing but a sale at the end. It’s this slimy persona that we’re all trying to avoid, right?

Pink suggests that for the 21st Century, marketers rewrite it to Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity. 

He explains that Attunement is the ability to empathize with a potential reader, see them as a person, listen to their needs and respond to them in a gentle, human, graceful way. Buoyancy is staying positive through interrogative self-talk, understanding the source of rejection, and embracing the fact that sales is hard, your book isn’t for everyone and someday you will succeed. Buyers are more attracted to positive people. And clarity means asking your potential readers what their inner drives are, asking good questions of the people you want to move and then understanding how you can serve the buyer, not the buyer serve you. Through attunement, buoyancy and clarity, we are touching on the humanity of our readers through conversations. We’re seeing them as real people, not as numbers.  

I’d Like To Suggest That Authors Should Take Their Time To Sell

Read Daniel H. Pink’s book To Sell Is Human. Engage in conversation. Don’t be in a rush to broadcast to the world. Cut out the auto DMs. Rewrite the tweets. BE REAL. 

How do you feel about hard sells? Have you found success being real to your readers?

Katharine Grubb is an author, poet, homeschooling mother, camping enthusiast, bread-baker, and believer in working in small increments of time. She leads 10 Minute Novelists, an international Facebook group of time-crunched writers. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.

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