Monday, October 24, 2011

Hard Sell Winds up Being Hard to Sell

It's difficult to understand how to market ourselves without shooing people away. Nothing is more irritating that to see a Facebook, Twitter or Instant Message saying "buy __(fill in the blank)__", and you don't know the author, can't tell the genre, or never asked to be on someone's list to be spammed with "Buy My Work" ads. But if you aren't a household name, how are you supposed to sell your writing and build a platform?

1. Be personable.

Your blog doesn't have to continually talk about your writing or your sales. Talk as if you had friends over . . . friends interested in whatever you're interested in. Your genre, places and activities in your stories, a recent magazine feature, current events that affect your profession. Share. Make the blog about them, not you. People read blogs, articles and stories for take-away value, not so much about you.

2. Be casual about your product.

Spin an anecdote that happens to eventually touch upon whatever it is you are promoting. Tell an interesting story in your article or blog, or make an intriguing observation in social media. Then somehow make it about what you do. For instance, I'll write about making sales in trade magazines, but not mention the fact I have a short ebook for sale at the website with a list of guidelines. The product is not the subject. The information is.

3. Be thankful.

Love your readers. Love your profession. Love your life. You don't have to be Pollyanna, but you do need to sound enthusiastic about what you do, where you live, how you carry out your life and profession.

You do not have to be a charismatic cinematic celebrity for people to like you . . . and by extension, like your work. You do, however, have to be someone that others would like to meet and get to know. To do that, you must want to do the same to others. If writing is a chore for you, or if you're slinging words together for dollars, then hunt technical writing gigs, where personality isn't an issue. Otherwise, let your passion shine through without pulling a hard sell.

Nothing makes a reader delete you faster than to say "Buy my work" without giving him a real reason for him to part with his money and spend moments/hours of his life reading it. Be his friend, not his used-car salesman.

Sincerity, patience and appreciation for others, however, draws a crowd. Nothing happens fast in this business. But those who do well develop a slow but sure presence online . . . not via hard selling but through a steady, reliable delivery of respect for others.


Sioux Roslawski said...

So true, Hope. That reminds me of a colleague who always spoke about herself--her vacation, her kids, her aches and pains--and never let anyone get a word in edgewise. Everyone avoided her like the plague. You have to be inclusive, and make others feel welcomed, instead of exclusively honing in on the sell.

Marilynn Larew said...

A number -- a large number -- of my Twitter follows tweet nothing but "buy my book." Now a Linkedin friend is doing the same thing. I like to know when a book is launching, like to say congratulations, like to look it up on Amazon, maybe buy it. I do NOT like to have books flacked in my face in every tweet. I don't think I'm unusual. They are shooting themselves in the foot, um feet.