Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Confessions of a sales pitch Junkie

It often seems today that in order to make it in todays competitive world of publishing, it's no longer enough to be just a good writer, you've also got to be passionate about and committed to, marketing your own works.

First of all, unless your John Grisham or JK Rowling, even the largest publisher is going to expect you to carry your own torch. And it can't be done halfheartedly either - plodding through it while thinking all the while, "I'd rather be writing."

For many years before I started writing novels, I was involved in advertising sales and marketing. I wrote and delivered presentations and complex marketing proposals, all the while thinking "what a boring waste of time." But it wasn't.
I didn't really realize it until I started my book tour and found myself using many of the same skills developed in my previous incarnation. Gradually I came to understand that we all sell - whether it's in the workplace or personal relationships. We're all in the business of presenting, persuading and - selling

A very talented and respected colleague of mine, Cheryl Kaye Tardif, is not only an excellent writer, but one of the most outstanding marketers I've ever met (and I've spent 40 years in the business !). Her passion and excitement for her works, publisher and fellow authors are infectious - and they sell books!
The one thing that I've noticed is that wherever she goes and whichever group she's talking to, she seems to be having fun. And I think that's the key - Have fun!
So with that in mind, the following is a 'tongue -in-cheek' (but not very far in cheek) recounting of an incident last week that made me smile. I hope it will do the same for you.


Friends/colleagues - Stop me before I sell again !

Hi, my name is Ric and I'm a - a ... sales pitch addict !
There, I said it. It's finally out in the open and maybe now I can start on the road to recovery
Let me explain:

Earlier this week I happened to find myself passing by one of the B&N where I'd recently had a signing.
I knew that I shouldn't do it but I just couldn't help it ... I just had to go in and see how my book was selling.
I made my way back to the Mystery isle and was gratified to see that out of two dozen signed copies of Shadow that I'd left with the B&N CRM, there was only one signed copy left out the 6 or 7 books on the shelf.
I was just about to leave when it happened.
I turned around and saw a woman standing next to me intensely perusing the books on the New Mysteries shelf and before I could stop myself I blurted out; "So, are you looking for a good mystery?"
Yes friends ... the old demon, SSP (shameless self promotion) had me by the tail again.

I won't go into the sordid details but after 5 minuets of friendly chit-chat I was signing a copy of Shadow of Innocence to her.
But that's not the worst.
After signing the copy to the nice lady, could I just leave well enough alone? No! Just like a drunk reaching for the next bottle, I pointed my shaking finger towards another book on the New Mystery shelf by one of our Spring List authors and said, "you know here's another mystery that I know you'll like." In another 5 minutes she also had a copy of The Game tucked under her arm.

Clutching the two books she thanked me for my advice and started to leave. That's when she made the mistake of saying, "You know these will be great for my book club."
Book Club ?! .... Cha-Ching !!! My eyes lit up.
"Madam, I said. "putting on my best carnival barkers voice and whipping out a catalog for my publishers Spring List , " I have here the genuine, fool-proof guarantee to true literary happiness that will elevate you to the undisputed queen bee of your Book Club!"
And yes, before I could stop myself, I'd given her an 'elevator pitch' for all the books in the catalog. She eventually left the store mumbling descriptions and long strings of ISBN #'s, promising to present the books at their next meeting.

A sordid tale I know, and I'm not proud, but what can I do?
Friends... get me into a 12 step program. Help me shake the need to pitch our publications to every stranger I see.
And please, please - help me before I sell again !

Ric Wasley - Author

Shadow of Innocence
Kunati - April 2007

New from Kunati Publishing: Shadow of Innocence! - The Newport Folk Festival provides a groovy backdrop for this fun and exciting mystery set in the music and drug soaked sixties. The Baby Boomers and everyone else are sure to enjoy this appealing mystery featuring a pair of musician partners in love and danger. Don't miss Shadow of Innocence! From Kunati Publishing. Available now on; Amazon ,Barnes & Noble and at bookstores everywhere.

1 comment:

Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of Whale Song said...

I loved this post. And it is so true. Funny how we feel almost embarrassed to point out our books when we're there as a customer and not doing signings. The thing is, people are there because they want a good read. And often they haven't got a clue where to start looking.

I view it as being helpful. It's like being a 'personal shopper' for someone. :)

"Whale Song is great for summer vacations...oh, you're gone for 10 days? Well, you're going to need another book. Here, let me show you a fantastic novel I just read..."

Being an author means always being "on".

:) Cheryl