I suck at selling

There’s a prayer I say every morning when I wake up. It’s a mix of different Marianne Williamson ideas and it goes like this Today let me see the people I need to see and say the things to them that I need to say. Today, let me use my creative energy to help someone other than myself.

I’ve been saying this prayer for a long time, and some days I know I won’t see a soul. Many days. That’s my choice; it’s a writer’s life. When I “say” things to others, it is more often than not via social media than in real life. So that makes me smile too. I started saying this prayer when I got up every day at 6 am to go to work and knew I’d see at least a hundred people, most of them my students. So it was important for me to get right with my words, and to ask my higher self to help out with that.

The third thing, doing something kind for someone else, is the thing I keep uppermost in my mind all day. Maybe all I do is visit a blog and post a comment. Maybe I write a review or retweet a great post. Maybe I make my husband his favorite dinner or give my mom a call. Before you start thinking I’m so perfect, I gotta say, there’s a bit of the expectation of a return on my kindness investment. I know how shallow that is, and that people should do things for others without expecting anything in return. I try to keep that in mind, but have not perfected it yet.

Many, many of my gestures are not reciprocated. At least not directly or in the way I imagine. This is where marketing misery comes in. I have a novel for sale on Kindle and Nook. I would like people to buy it. Lots of people. Millions of people. Heck it’s only 99 cents and anybody who can afford a Kindle can afford that, right?

I knew I could count on friends and family to buy the book, but if I wanted a wider audience I would have to do some marketing. I suck at selling. I just can’t do it. It feels wrong to blanket my Twitter posts and my website and FB pages with entreaties to “buy my book.” It felt better to make a list of all the indie books I’ve enjoyed and reviewed here on the blog and then also add my books at the end. That way, I’m spreading the love. And not being so obvious with my entreaties that readers also buy my new book.

I don’t think it helped much. The highest I’ve gone of the sales chart is #85,000. I’m now down at #300K. (I felt bad about those numbers until I checked my other book. It is like # 3 million, lol).  I’ve been making friends on Twitter, and reading the tweets of those following me. This morning a guy said to pass on the Twitter love by posting a review of an indie book you liked on Amazon. Well, I coud do better than that! I pasted every review from my list onto Amazon and it felt really good. I mentally checked off my good deed for the day.

Not that it’s going to do me any good in any way directly related to my book sales. And that’s okay. I want to stop expecting direct reciprocity in my life. I want to believe that good deeds come back around, in their own way and on their own time schedule. I mentioned my fretting about Amazon ranking to my friend Kris. She gave me some good advice: never mind the numbers. Be happy that your book is out there. And you know what? I am.

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  1. Can you put a link to your Twitter account or a Twitter widget on your blog so that readers can retweet you easily from here?

    I find self-promotional tweets enormously boring to read, but I’m also happy to reblog/retweet others! 🙂

    Good luck!


  2. I agree with HD. I love to share with others when I find a blog or website I like. And I post on twitter all the time to other bloggers asking them to put share buttons on their blogs. Not only for twitter, but for facebook as well.
    And I am happy that you aren’t just tweeting your book. There is one author I follow and she only tweets about her book and I keep thinking, maybe if she would support other authors every once in awhile….
    Good luck! Now I’m off to share your book and your blog! Have an awesome day!


  3. And forgot to say in all my happiness at being able to add the bluebird all by myself is that my number was down to 90K last night after the 300K yesterday. So it moves around. Or maybe a few people actually read my blog and were moved to buy my book! I know it is beyond nerd to think 90K is good, but hey, it’s all relative.


  4. The comments on this post are as interesting as the post itself. Its a quirk of humanity, I think, that people want to help others but the easier you make it on other people to help you, the more inclined they will be to do so. It’s much easier to hit ‘retweet’ in Twitter for example rather than post a new tweet (copying the title, copying the URL etc.). There are WordPress plugins that let you post a link to blog posts literally with a click of a button, though you might like to solicit your son’s help to implement this.

    I think too though you have to be really explicit in the ways you want people to help you. On YouTube, people can come and watch your video and really enjoy it… and that is the end of that. The viewcount will go up by one, but the video creators won’t really know whether the viewer loved it or hated it, whether they were a real person or a bot scanning the net for search engines. YouTube video creators have gotten into the habit of asking people to ‘Rate [give it a star rating], comment [on the video] and favorite [that is, add it to a playlist for further consideration at a later date].’ None of these things are very hard to do but are easy to forget about, so a simple polite reminder never goes astray. You see similar things on Twitter, people actually include the words ‘PLEASE RETWEET’ (sometimes shortened to ‘PLS RT’) on their Tweet… and you know they want to share that information/link/whatever with as many people as they can.

    Keep in mind too that there are time gaps with these things. Sure it takes a moment to buy/download a Kindle book, but it takes longer to read and then some time later someone might take the time to leave a review on Amazon. (And don’t be shy about asking people to review your book. If someone says on Twitter, “Just read your book and I loved it,” ask them if they would mind leaving a review on Amazon. Then copy the review and put it on your blog. Every new development relating to your book is a great excuse to remind people it exists!)

    It’s not about begging or pleading, it’s really about saying, “I created this thing, it’s really important to me, I think you might actually enjoy it and it would mean a lot if you would take some time to check it out.” It’s not a hard sell, it’s not a screaming infomercial, it’s an artist reaching out to other human beings. And I think that’s wonderful, and it’s something you should never feel bad about.

    As always – best of luck. 2011 appears to have been an incredibly productive/prolific year for you and I can’t wait to see what you do with 2012.


  5. You can post works for free on Smashwords. Once you do that, and post them on Amazon for 99 cents, have your friends “tattle” that they found the item for cheaper somewhere else. Then Amazon will drop the price to 0.

    Good luck!!



  6. Oh dear, call me oblivious if you must… but I just noticed (honestly for the first time) that there is a Tweet button at the top of the screen. And a Facebook ‘like’ button too. So disregard that section of the comment. lol


  7. “It’s not about begging or pleading, it’s really about saying, “I created this thing, it’s really important to me, I think you might actually enjoy it and it would mean a lot if you would take some time to check it out.” Thank you John. You are so wise.


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