Selling, marketing, promotion – I’ve always felt that I wasn’t very good at it. In fact I tend to turn mentally into a bit of a quivering jelly at the thought. Which is a bit of a problem for an author, quite frankly. Most of the authors I have met who started out self-publishing and went on to major success have a background in marketing – like Richard Paul Evans, for instance, who just published his 20th New York Times bestseller book in a row! This leads me to believe that while good writing is important, good selling is what takes you where you want to go.
Now until just recently writing had taken a back seat for me as I felt I had to focus on earning a wage, and I have been doing that at a lovely fabric shop in Bridport, Dorset. I love my job, for many reasons – and I just realised that through it I have gained some perspective on selling. Although I am in the shop and online, taking money from people in exchange for fabric, I have never felt that I was selling in the sense I used to understand it. That was of persuading someone out of their money for your own enrichment. I know, I know, it speaks of attitudes engrained in childhood from parents and religion. But now I know differently not just in my head but also in my heart.
You see, what selling actually means is connecting people to the things they want – indeed often are searching for. Giving them convenience and service together in a package. I recently popped a brick fabric up on our website and this week we sent some off to Glasgow to act as a backdrop for some children doing a Harry Potter themed play. How fantastic is that! We saved them hours of painting and gave them a solution which could be whisked aside in an instant. That’s the fab side of selling. And my books also can provide similar joy – or at least relief from a problem – to those I can connect with them.
So all marketing is to me now is letting the right people know what I am offering. I don’t know who those right people might be, so the onus is on me to offer the opportunity to as many as I can, so they can see if the fit is right for them.
After a conversation with a friend, I can also see that the same might apply to offering advertising on a website. We tend to see it as intrusive, but if the advert solves a problem for the website reader, how grateful might they be? It is such a lovely feeling to solve someone’s problem and see their gratitude. And of course no-one has to click on an advert for something for which they have no interest.
So if you are having problems around marketing of books or anything else, I suggest you get some positive selling under your belt. Volunteer to help a friend man their shop or market stall. Run a charity stall at a local market. Anything to get some experience. Yes, there will be grumpy and resentful people around, but a whole lot more who will just be glad to have what you’re offering.