Reality programmes could very well be a treasure trove for writers looking for characters for their scribbles. They can get you thinking outside the box too. Come Dine With Me is one of my favourites. Get five strangers to throw dinner parties for each other one night after another, throw in buckets of booze, a couple of strong-willed individuals, and you have a recipe for at least one disaster. I watched one where one lady was incredibly easily offended, while at the same time being incredibly offensive. She really made my skin crawl just watching her nastiness. It made me think of the few really dislikeable people I’ve come across in my time. Those people that will rudely respond to anything that you say, sometimes even twisting an intended compliment around, and taking it as a personal insult. With these guys it’s all about the “me”. I imagined for a minute trying to sell this woman a book. In the world of real salespeople, you should be able to find a method to do this very thing. Theoretically.
I remember back in the day when I was still a go-getting, career oriented yuppie, I went on a three day sales and marketing seminar at a casino resort. In between the required all night partying, and the costly discovery of a possible one-armed bandit addiction, I picked up a few tips. One of them was to “Know Your Customer”. What one person finds appealing in your bid to sell them ice in winter, another will find irritating – or worse still, see your pitch as an attack on their personal space or time. This could lead to not only an earful, but a character shredding of your worthy self to other potential customers, and subsequent loss of future sales. I think that this could apply to indie authors trying to sell their books also.
You have characters that are so soft that they are easily swayed (or sometimes bullied) into buying just about anything that a salesperson waves at them. You have people that are open to hearing what you have to say, and may or may not buy your product based on whether they actually want it. There are loads of different people out there who respond in different ways to marketing attempts coming their way. Some are genuinely just not interested, and tired of being constantly bombarded with products they have no interest in. They might get a little angry and say something harsh or at the least just totally ignore you. Then – at the dark end of the spectrum, you have the people who are just waiting for some bastard salesman to just try and sell their rotten stuff to them. They take pleasure in being offended, and often equal pleasure in trying to take said rotten bastard cheeky sales guy down and stomp on them as hard as they can.
With general marketing such as advertising in publications or on billboards the seller feels none of this, but with personal sales – as in one on one communication with a potential client – the innocent, untrained salesman of his lovely just published indie book faces a minefield of potentially being stomped on. Sales staff are often employed for not only their training and experience, but also on the basis of their charm and good looks. Not all indies are naturally charming, outgoing, or good looking. Some are painfully shy too. For this reason I’m still baffled as to the best way to market indie books. The more I see posts of nice people genuinely tired of having hard sell methods used on them to buy books, and posts of really nice author guys that have had their noses bitten off for merely mentioning their book to the wrong person, the more I come to the conclusion that I’m missing something here. If someone feels bullied into buying a book they’re automatically not going to feel the love and read it with an open mind. If you don’t try and sell your books nobody will buy them. Not a win win situation.
One thing I do know though, is that just as scribblers are very similar to each other with their creative, gentle souls, so are salesmen a particular breed of razor-witted individuals. Not many people get to be both. They also study for their trade. A three year sales and marketing course is not going to be replaced by guesswork. Why not ask the question of those who might be able to come up with an answer? Can’t hurt. I haven’t been in the world of salespeople for years, but remembering that tenacious bunch, I’ve decided to look online for a group of them, and put this indie book marketing problem to them as a challenge – What’s A New Way To Market Indie Books. So, if any of my friends has a salesman in the house, please give me a shout. It’s time to get the big guns out. We need to learn how to sell from those who know selling, and are as passionate about their jobs as we are about writing. I don’t think I’ve seen a single club or course for writers to learn about the job of selling. If they’re up for a challenge, we might come up with totally new strategies. And we can then give them free copies of our books to review…
Till next time friends. xxx