I am writing this because I can no longer count how many times that I get please buy/follow/connect or whatever adjective you’d like to describe in order to get me to buy a book from an author on twitter. Don’t get me wrong; social media can be, and should be, a tool. We are all trying to make our dreams come true. I get that.
But a long time ago I learned some valuable lessons about selling. Let me paint the picture; Phoenix Arizona had an event on called First Friday. First friday is a unorganized and glorious mess of an art show, where local artists, rock bands, crafters, you name it, go out there and sell their wares. I was one of those artists.
My first night was a bust, just for the simple reason that I didn’t have a table. I rectified that for the next month and put on my first display. But actually being a part of the show was overwhelming for someone like me. I got rock bands performing, people showing pictures, jewelry, fine art all around me. What could I possibly do to compete?
Writing isn’t a visual medium. It’s a medium of the mind, and requires the investment of the consumer to truly appreciate your work. In short, it’s tricky to make your mark with complete strangers.
I didn’t have a real visual way to show what I could do, but I did have a gift of gab. Just ask my podcast guests: I really can talk forever and ever. So I just started talking. I didn’t say much at first; hello, how you doing?, that kind of thing.
Little did I know that this was to be part of my pitch. Now, I’m not going to say that I don’t have a spiel ready for my books. I do. But I don’t start there.
I start by saying hi. I start by engaging the people that come by me. I say hello, I ask how they are doing, and then if there is any kind of rapport, then and only then do i do my thirty second spiel. (It might even be less than that to be honest. Not sure. Will have to time it someday, but I digress.)
Even if I get to my thirty second spiel, I find that not everyone buys. But that’s okay; not everyone is going to like what you are selling. The important thing is to make connections. I’ve learned this not just at first friday, but at every convention I’ve done. Having product definitely helps, but more than that, it’s about the dialogue with your audience.
I feel this lesson is lost on twitter. Too often, maybe of the writers and artists i do follow send me a pre recorded message telling me to find them on facebook or mention their books. Like I said, I understand – we need to sell our books, and that is the end goal. I just wish that artists in general realize it’s not just our product we are selling.
We are selling ourselves.
Oh, there are pitches and spiels or whatever you want to call it, but the people you meet not just on twitter, but in real life, make their decision right away if they are interested or not. It’s not just true in writing – it’s true in dates, it’s true in job interviews, and it’s true in pretty much every single interaction you do.
As an individual, we need to project who we are. Now maybe you don’t know who you are. My suggestion at that point is to try stuff and see what fits you. You can be boisterous, loud, and fun loving, and maybe you will find people respond to that. Maybe you are quiet, introspective and profound. In any event, at the end, what people respond to most is how genuine you are as a person.
Believe me, that more than anything else, is the real secret to success. That is the real presentation you as an artist have to work on. As a writer, this is paramount. Visual artists have the advantage of seeing their work on display. It creates an impression. As a writer, you have to create that impression first.
I look at tweets, and I look at people and what they say, and I can already tell if people are going to do well or they won’t. Good work is good work, but people have to know you are out there. That only happens when people have a reason to pay attention.
My twitter feed doesn’t have a lot of me advertising my book. I do – again, I know I’m in business for myself. So is everyone with a product. But to stand out in the pack, you got to start with you. With who you are, and what you present. My twitter feed talks about my podcasts, comics I like, and occasional inspirational stuff, or stuff that I find amusing. You get a glimpse of me on my social media. I’ve only been blocked by two people, so that tells me I’m doing something right.
Before I go on, it’s important to note that you are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. People aren’t always going to like you. That’s okay. You don’t have to like everyone either. That’s one of life’s truly wondrous things; we don’t always like each other. We don’t have to. Don’t worry about those people. They are who they are, and you are who you are. You have no need to change yourself.
Focus on being the best you you can be. Be honest, admit to your own faults when they occur, be bold about what you believe in. People may not agree, but they will respect it. In short, put yourself out there – let people get a to know you a little bit.
Then, and only then, talk about your books. Or your art, or podcast, or video. Whatever. You have to start with what you can control, and that is you.
Be yourself. Be confident and bold with who you are.
So now that you know me a little better, and what I respond to, would you like to hear my thirty second pitch for my books? I’m going to post images below this. If you want to skip the pitch, that’s okay. If you like what you read, please give it the ten second cursory read through. You might like it. But if you don’t, I’m okay with it. Thanks for reading this far.
One more thing before I go on: Florence Chan asked me to change the cover to book 2. I personally think her work is amazing and incredible, but ever the perfectionist, she insisted and I’m obliging. Florence is an incredible talent and I’m lucky to have worked with her twice. I’m hoping for at least one more go around.)
This is the cover to my first book, the Watcher. Illustrated by Florence Chan, The Watcher is an epic poem about a slave boy that kills his dragon masters and journeys into a post apocalyptic wasteland, discovering that there is more to life than being a slave.
If interested, click here to check it out.
This is book two of the Watcher Saga. Now, you don’t actually need to read book two with book one, but much like peanut butter and jelly, they do go well together.
Without spoiling book one too much, the Watcher is kidnapped in this book, and it’s up to his friends led by Kristin to rescue him. They do their own post apocalyptic journey, discovering how to overcome loss and tragedy, and along the way discover the real meaning of family.
If interested click here to check this book out.
Both of these are also avaiable at Mirror World Publishing, and other fine literary websites. Give the books a shot.
There you have it. Go and be yourself.