Wednesday, November 7, 2018

You Need To Talk More (An IWSG Post)

Hello, all!

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

By now, I assume that anyone coming here is already well-versed in this group, but if you happen to be new (and welcome, if you are...), or would just like more information or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.

This month's co-hosts are: Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Ann V. Friend, JQ Rose, and Elizabeth Seckman.

This month's (optional) question asks, "How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?"

But I'm going to skip that question in order to ramble on about something else. And it may not be anything more than a ramble because I am seven days into NaNoWriMo, meaning that I am now approximately 85% Dr. Pepper, 10% Pop Tarts, and 5% water, which may make me 100% more incomprehensible than normal.



So, okay. If you follow me on social media, then you may already be aware that last weekend, I took part in a local book fair, meaning I had my books (y'all, I have more than one book now!) on a table and I engaged (if you use the term loosely) with the general public (or, those who wandered by, anyway) in an effort to sell said books.


The woman at the table next to me had many more books to her name that had gone through multiple printings, as well as an agent and a publisher who wanted her to write more. (Interesting side note: she told me that writing was never something she had actually wanted to do. It was just something she ended up doing, unlike me, who has been writing ever since I learned how.) We were at the opposite ends of the spectrum as far as what we wrote, why we wrote, how we wrote, and how we sold what we wrote.

She went for what I would consider to be the hard sell. She approached anyone who came close enough to tell them who she was and what she wrote before asking what they liked to read and then handing them whatever book best fit their preferences. And it seemed to work for her because though I wasn't tracking her sales, she said repeatedly that she was selling more than she had anticipated.

Which, seriously, good for her.

I, on the other hand, took a more...laid back approach. In the interest of full disclosure, I honestly feel if I so much as say, "Hey, I wrote a book" then I am going for the hard sell, which is not a feeling I enjoy. Therefore, I very seldom utter that sentence. Or anything else even remotely close to that sentence. Instead, I followed my retail rules, meaning I greeted anyone who came into my zone so they would know that I knew they existed, asked how they were doing, then left them alone to browse as they desired, keeping an eye out for obvious signs of needing help. Or actually answering any actually asked questions (say that five times fast...).

This is an approach with which I am at least faintly comfortable. So much of the marketing/self-promotion side of writing just makes me feel awful—physically awful—that I truly struggle with it. For me, these events are really more an opportunity for me to put myself out there just a little bit, in the hopes that one day it may get easier and I'll get better at it.

But my efforts prompted my neighbor to declare, "You're too shy. You need to talk more."

Which prompted me to want to do this:



Because I do not want to talk more. The idea of doing so fills me terror on the same level as me taking a walk outside in the Florida woods (which is to say, pretty damn terrifying...).

I feel like I talk all the freaking time and sound like a complete idiot while doing it, and I literally feel awful—again, physically awful—for days following social interactions.

But I thought I did all right last Saturday. I had some good conversations with people at that event, and I actually sold a few books (as in more than one). I ultimately came away thinking that it had been a pretty successful experience overall. I didn't sell nearly as many books as my neighbor did—something of which she did make note—but I feel like that comes back to what I have said in previous posts (or at least one post).

That the only person who gets to define success in these situations is you. Me. However that works. (Have I mentioned the NaNo-induced sleep deprivation?)

Which prompts me to end yet another post with my favorite words to live by (that may or may not have anything to do with whatever the hell I was talking about):


DO YOUR THING AND DON'T CARE IF THEY LIKE IT.



That's going to do it for me today. Thanks for stopping by. And if you're participating in NaNoWriMo
this month, I hope it's going well!


44 comments:

  1. Your table display looks great, MJ!

    And as a reader/customer, I much prefer your way of doing things. :)

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    1. Thank you! I feel like I am improving in the table display area. I'm still a slacker when compared to many others I know, but I'm learning. I hope. :)

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  2. I never wanted to write either.
    I like your approach better. I don't want to turn someone off by jumping all over them.

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    1. I always find it fascinating when people who never wanted to write end up writing because that's essentially all I've ever wanted to do. Y'all are awesome!

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  3. I hate when I'm set up next to someone like your neighbor. It chases people who are browsing away to get away from the hard-sell. Do your thing. I like it.

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    1. Her approach was certainly working for her because she did seem to sell a lot. It just wasn't anything I would ever be comfortable with.

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  4. We had a booth across from another publisher at Supercon and they stood in the middle aisle, holding books and handing out bookmarks to everyone. But what if those people didn't read? What a waste. My husband found the best approach - many people were in costumes and he'd compliment them and get them to talking. That then led to what did they like to read and very often, they would buy a book. People are so hungry for someone to notice THEM that it goes a long way when someone does.

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    1. Your husband has a great approach, I think, and I would definitely do that if I were at a con. The pictures you post of people in costume are amazing. I love it!

      At my book fair, I settled for celebrating people with "I voted" stickers and throwing myself at every dog that went by (but not literally, though).

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  5. I relate so much here. Never been a good salesperson, which is why I'd rather strike up a conversation and let the interest of buying a book fall as it may. :)

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    1. A lot of the conversations I had with people were about other books that we had read and loved and television and Broadway shows, of all things. I am way more comfortable with that.

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  6. I saw you make a few sales, and I was like, "Go, M.J.!" I did not sell at that event. Many people didn't. But you did! That's awesome! I came into the event not really expecting to sell, which was another reason I only brought the two books. So, I sort of wasn't really trying to sell (pitch) my books to anyone. This event just felt a bit awkward for me. Not like SCBL where the people who are coming are expecting to buy books and are looking for new books. No one seemed to know what was going on. Except for the people who came out for one specific author I saw.

    Mostly, I wanted to hand out the cards for my free story and see how that went. They really thanked me for that, so I guess that's good. I was also really trying to help my mom because I thought this would be a better event for her. My mom only sold one of her books, though, and three bookmarks. We ended up leaving early when ashes started to fall on our table. And the smell of the smoke started to give me a headache. By the time I got home, I had a full-blown headache that lasted the entire night. I wanted to say goodbye to you, but you were making a sale. *high five*

    Anyway...extra long comment this time. lol See you Saturday!

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    1. I know, the ash was terrible! Where did that even come from?!? I really wanted to get out my rain tarp because that was crazy.

      I feel like that event suffered from an identity crisis, like the planners didn't really know what it was supposed to be, or should be. (Of course, I think we've been incredibly spoiled by SCBL...) I hope they get some good solid feedback on how to improve things, if they want to do it again next year.

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  7. Your neighbor is making me twitch and I haven't even met her. Anyways, I'm happy to hear you sold some books. That's awesome!

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    1. I was happy. Not many authors had sales at that event, so I was probably ahead of the curve for once.

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  8. You should tell her next time you see her that you write so that you won't have to talk.
    Give it a Sean Connery lilt to it.

    I had one of previous students come interview me last night for one of his classes and I had to make an actual effort not to laugh when he asked me about marketing. Or maybe I did laugh. I don't know, now.

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    1. Yeah, I would have laughed heartily at that question, and do anytime it comes up. I do not do much marketing at all.

      Off to practice my Sean Connery voice...

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  9. I'm with you. The whole selling part of the writing makes me feel oooky.

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    1. I need someone who loves selling to pretend to be me in public so I can stay home and focus on the writing. That's a thing, right?

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  10. I'm never comfortable at self-promotion, and my ego isn't all that attached to writer-me. I write, but I do so many other things and I don't go around saying, "Look at this amazing eggplant. I grew it!" Or "These are my children. I grew them, too!"

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    1. I had to laugh out loud at the amazing eggplant thing. Kind of makes me wish I gardened and grew things just so I could say that once. :)

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  11. YES!!! Thank you! (the last part, especially)
    That's how I have been at most book events. I greet people, ask how they are, and let them take their time. However, I have also been told that I need to "get out there" more. This came from a family member who is usually awesome otherwise, but ... let's just say, I probably won't invited this individual to another book event that I'm at. I also get the physical terror reaction to being told to talk more. And, the weird thing is, if I take it at my own pace, I do talk more. My favorite book event so far (most successful as far as confidence and happiness with a handful of sales - not as many as some, so what?), was an event at which I took the time to browse all the other author tables in my area and asked the other authors questions. I cheered myself up by encouraging them, and wasn't even sad about the crowd of people I missed walking by my table (my table neighbor told me about them). I enjoyed the day, and that felt like success to me.

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    1. Yes, my significant other's favorite part of accompanying me to these events is every time I walk away from my table to go talk to another author or two, leaving him to man the table on his own for long periods of time. But as much anxiety as I have around social events, I do seem to love talking to other writers, so I can't help myself.

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  12. Man, if an author ever attempted a "hard sell" approach with me, I'd probably act like I didn't hear 'em and just...walk away. Your way of greeting potential readers seems much more welcoming to me.

    And hurray for the sales, btw! That's awesome! ^_^

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    1. Yes, I personally don't enjoy being on the receiving end of a hard sell, which probably just makes me that much more reluctant to do it. Also, I just never like to do what people want me to do. I'm contrary like that. :)

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  13. I'd skip the question, too, because I totally don't understand it.

    I love seeing Second Nature there next to Effigy. It's so much bigger! Yay! I don't think I could ever give a hard sell either. Honestly, if someone told me to talk more they might end up with a broken face.

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    1. When I put them side by side for the first time, I stepped back and was, like, "OMG, Effigy's so little!" But it's still totally surreal to me to have the two books out. Can't wait to add Book 3 to the mix someday.

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  14. those book fairs can be fun, glad you had a positive experience despite the abrasive neighbor!

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  15. I would probably be exactly the same as you at an event. Actually, I would probably talk even less. I would probably hide under the table. But you sold some books! That's awesome!

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    1. Though I am always tempted to hide under the table, I have yet to actually do it. I think I relax more into things as the event progresses. I don't think I'll ever be a truly active seller, though.

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  16. I can't do the hard sell either. I say hi and ask how they're doing and let them look in peace.

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    1. And if I were the buyer, I would appreciate that greatly.

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  17. I'm only just starting to get comfortable with hand selling, and I've been doing events since my first book debuted in 2015. I'm still not a hard sell, gal, but I'm more assertive than I used to be. I'm glad you came through standing your ground. There isn't one right way to do this. @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

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    1. I'm not sure I'm ever really comfortable at these kind of things, but I would like to think that I'm getting better at it. Of course, I also like to think that Dr. Pepper for breakfast is a healthy choice, so...

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  18. I agree with you. I'm the same way at craft selling things. If they're near me, I say hello. If they show interest, I strike up a conversation, but not necessarily about what they're looking at. I've always hated the hard sell. If I'm not interested, it's not going to change my mind.

    You do you. It sounds like you did pretty well. Leave the hard sell to those that enjoy it. The rest of us can try to avoid them.

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  19. I've decided that I lack proper people skills to be good at in-person selling, so I let that aspect of marketing go. Instead, I now do things that bring me fulfillment, like writing comments on people's blogs.

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  20. Just like writing, we all have our different approaches to selling. I'm more of the "don't make eye contact--oh no why are they taking to me" type seller. LOL! Good luck with NaNo!

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  21. I have felt annoyed by authors like the one you describe. The hard sell isn't for me, for sure. Congratulations on having bookS to sell, and good luck on Nano!

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  22. I really, really hate it when someone like the author you described tries to hit me up to buy a book(s). I'm embarrassed if I'm at the same table or close to them. I prefer the softer approach--what do you like to read, etc. It's all about the consumer, not me. BTW, unless you saw money or credit cards change hands, don't believe how well she said she's doing. I always say I'm doing well when people ask, whether I am or not. :)

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  23. I'm impressed you had a table and went for it. I don't think I be anywhere close to a hard-sell type of person. I like to hide in corners and watch others. If they discover something I've done and like it, that's great.

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  24. Don't compare yourself to her. You're you. Your books aren't hers. Congrats on a successful day!

    :)

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  25. Your approach is my approach. High fives for even putting yourself out there to begin with. I just stay in my writing cave and bang my head against the desk when I do marketing. Good luck with NaNo! I wanted to do a mini challenge, but I'm failing at it. =P So I just had ice cream instead.

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  26. Oh my gosh, I feel your pain!!!! I don't mind talking to people. I can chat all day about anything and everything, but I HATE asking people to buy my books. It seems so self-serving. Good thing we just love writing.

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  27. I've always LOVED words BUT never planned on writing a book, let alone publishing.
    But here I am writing and I'm even considering publishing something... and I'm loving it. There's no going back.
    DO YOUR THING AND DON'T CARE IF THEY LIKE IT. YES!

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