I Will Never be a Salesperson

posted in: Various Musings | 7

keepI just read an article by an author who I’m sure is a lovely man but there is one thing he most definitely is, and that is a salesperson (he would not disagree with that statement, either). His article was about sales and he said that we (authors) are the best salespeople for our books. While I don’t disagree with everything he said in his article, I do have some issues with the fact that he thinks we should be selling all the time, and if we think we’ve never sold anything in our lives, we’re deluding ourselves (think of job interviews, asking someone on a date, things like that as “sales”). I do not think that I should be prepared to talk about my books every time I talk with someone, although if the opportunity naturally arises, I will. I will also not look for ways in which my book fills some “need” for someone so that I always feel compelled to “sell.”

And that, my friends, is the difference between a salesperson and a human being. A salesperson (whether likeable or not) is ALWAYS trying to sell you SOMETHING. When I sold makeup years ago (yes, you know the company), my district representative (or whatever they were called) was one of the sweetest people you could ever meet—but she always had an angle. She always had something to sell. She just had to “overcome your objections” (objections like “I don’t have the money for your makeup”).

I’m going to digress a bit, tell you a story, and then we’ll come back to the main gist of my post. When I was selling for this company, I realized that every woman (and even some men) were potential customers. That said, I saw no reason to be pushy. Most of us (I think) don’t like to be sold to. We don’t like knowing that someone is going to start shoving their products down our throats at every opportunity. I let my friends know I was selling this makeup (well, not just makeup—facial care, nail products, body products, fragrances, etc.—all beauty!), and those who wanted more information asked. I called a woman I used to work with and she hemmed and hawed and said she wanted to think about it (hosting a party). I told her “No problem,” but I knew—I sensed—that she was blowing me off. We know when that’s happening, right? Well, I told my rep about it and she told me to “give her [my friend] the benefit of the doubt”—and to keep pushing her, keep asking her until I got a definite no.

But see? That’s where I and salespeople part ways. I am into building relationships and lasting friendships. When you ignore someone else’s signals, you are not acting like a human being. You are selfishly and intentionally pushing your products (or services or whatever) on someone else who—for whatever reason—is not interested. Someone doesn’t have to say the word no to me for me to get the message. And I realized that if I kept listening to my rep’s advice, I was going to start losing friends. As it is, I’m pretty sure I damaged a couple of acquaintance relationships, and I think it comes down to trust. We trust people to be honest with us, and there is no honesty in pretending that you don’t know someone wants you to leave them the hell alone.

So, this article…it’s no secret that I’ve been scrambling like a madwoman, realizing my game has sucked all along (because I never had a plan other than to write!), but that it’s sucked even worse the past year and a half. As time goes by, more and more people publish (the number of books out there is astronomical), and so I first find myself thankful that I do have a loyal following. You’re small in numbers, but you’re there, and I cannot tell you how grateful I am that you are. You are why I keep writing!

But it’s hard to be heard for all the noise. Here’s the catch. When Bullet went big, the way I was “marketing” worked. It was unintentional marketing. I was simply chatting with my readers! I was spending time with them on my Facebook page, talking and enjoying their company, playing and laughing and sharing info about my upcoming book, having fun the entire time. Well, when I finally published the book in February 2013, it freaking exploded, and I know Facebook is why. What I did then worked. The problem today is that Facebook has changed up its algorithms multiple times, and even if you’re willing to pay to be seen more, it’s still a crapshoot. I’ve tried all kinds of tricks (including asking people who planned to never read me and never interacted with me on my page to stop liking my page—and, holy shit, what a backlash. Guess I should’ve seen that coming), but Facebook just doesn’t have the oomph anymore that it once did. I’ve tried all kinds of other things—changing keywords on the sites where I sell my books, buying information and products that were ultimately a waste of money, paying for advertising here and there (some places were worth the money and others were not!)—and my numbers continue to slip. But I haven’t given up and I don’t stop trying. Unfortunately, what all this marketing BS has done is cut into my writing and creative time, and that’s got to stop, because my loyal readers deserve my next book.

Bottom line—I cannot nor will I ever be a salesperson. Yes, I believe in my product. I know I write a damn good book. My books are different from a lot of what’s out there, and it’s intentional. I know I should be a bestseller again (and hope I am!), but I cannot and will not become an oily salesperson to do it. I just can’t. I’m more about relationships…and I can’t destroy them by selling people out of my life.

Peace out, friends.

***

As an afterthought, right before I clicked the publish button, I want to ask YOU.  What have you seen that works as marketing?  What do you consider pushy…or not?  I welcome any thoughts you’d like to share!

7 Responses

  1. If you figure it out let me know – I’m feeling my way along, hoping that I’ll stumble upon something that works for me. I’m with you in that I’m not a salesman and I never will be – when someone asks about my writing I have no problem talking about my books (and where you can buy them) but to just sell, it’s not my personality.

    Every day I hope that one of my books will take off like Bullet did for you, just once I want to experience that high. Ultimately my goal is for my writing to support itself, until then I’ll keep working the day job to buy book covers, and editing, and blog tours, and swag, and…

    • Yep, me too, girl. I touched that dream once with Bullet and just hoping it happens again. I hope it happens for you too!

  2. Carrie T.

    The number of books available to read is astronomical. Good for us readers but difficult for authors to get noticed.
    Last month a traditionally published author sent out a survey because her recently released book was doing horrible in sales, something she hadn’t experienced in 10 years. I tried finding the results post on Facebook but it is not showing up. I believe the main reason is that people weren’t aware the book was out. So an established writer is even having difficultly getting noticed these days.
    A self published writer recently asked her followers on Facebook about getting noticed on blogs. The bloggers that responded said they get so backlogged with requests and there is only so much time in a day. I’m not sure how effective blogs are in terms of sales but it seems difficult to even get on the list for reviews.
    It seems that the authors with big followings do frequent giveaways of books, gift cards, and more, but that doesn’t seem financially feasible for the lesser known authors.
    I’ve also noticed in the last year or so a lot of books being made available for free or on steeply discounted sale. I used to take advantage of the offers but it just left me with an impossible to get through list of books to read, and may never even get to.
    I wish Facebook would go back to being able to see all posts, most recent first and not the ones that they feel you want to see. I know a lot of authors tried to make the jump to tsu but haven’t heard about it in some time. Facebook still seems to be the social media of choice, unfortunately.
    Not sure if what I wrote helped and I’m not sure what the answer is to getting noticed.

    • Thanks, Carrie. I think you’re right about a lot of things. First, that there are a crazy amount of books out there. Yes, it’s hard getting noticed! Thanks for your input. Maybe I do need to do more giveaways. My biggest problem is figuring out where to do them–website, Facebook, everywhere? 🙂

      • Carrie T.

        For the website, it may depend on how many people visit your page. You could do newsletter giveaways. Facebook still seems the best bet. You could have people like, comment, and/or share the post to enter the giveaway, or even tag a friend. Have you looked into Writerspace or Fresh Fiction? I’m not sure the cost but it could be another way to market your books to a wider audience.

        • Thanks for all your suggestions, Carrie!!! I will check them out. As for newsletter giveaways, I do them already. 🙂

    • Thanks, Carrie. I think you’re right about a lot of things. First, that there are a crazy amount of books out there. Yes, it’s hard getting noticed! Thanks for your input. Maybe I do need to do more giveaways. My biggest problem is figuring out where to do them–website, Facebook, everywhere? 🙂

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