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Writers, Welcome to Sales


  04:22:18 am, by Nic Wilson   , 497 words  
Categories: Blog

Writers, Welcome to Sales

I?ve spoken around the subject before, but I?d like to tackle the elephant in the room head on. Writing is sales. Sure, there?s writing in there, somewhere, too. But really, what separates the published writer from Ted Kaczynski, typing furiously away in his cabin, is we want to make a living out of this. We want someone to actually buy what we write (and not publish it because otherwise we?ll send them letter bombs- just to be perfectly clear).


For most, this is disheartening. I suck at sales. I?ve never held a proper sales kind of job, unless you count shilling Boy Scout candy bars for way way way less than minimum wage. We wanted this job because it was fun, we could focus on our ?art? and not have to sweat the money stuff. But writing is sweating the money stuff. It?s taking a huge chunk out of your day to make people want to read your stuff.


Look at the bright side. Legacy publishing meant selling the book six times: to an agent, then an editor, then a publisher, the sales team, a book buyer and finally a customer. Digital publishing cuts out all of those middle men, which puts you in a room with the customer. You?re in charge, but it also means you?re on a wire with no net.


The eternal rub of sales is people hate sales, and worse, salespeople. Car salesman. Door to door. Telemarketers. I don?t think there?s a more hated profession, unless there?s some kind of telelawyering. But you aren?t cold-calling, here, because, to quote Konrath, book sales is ?about finding the people who are looking for your product even though they don?t know it yet.?


If you?ve done your homework looking for a market, if indeed there are people out there who want to read what you?ve got, you don?t have to sell them on it. You just have to let them know where to find it.


One of the better ways to do that is to offer something. If you?ve got expertise, great, use that. If you?ve got personal experiences, amusing anecdotes, a killer soufflé recipe. The goal is to make your marketing, including blogs, your website and newsletters, something people want to read. Personally, I do that by having my webcomic, my blogs, my weekly stories. And I?ve watched my portal climb up in search rankings because of it, because people come to be entertained. If at the same time they learn about things that you want them to buy, then it?s a win-win relationship.


The really nice thing about slowly making my way through a writing book that?s also a collection of blog posts, is when something really clicks with me, rather than worry about how much I?m paraphrasing (or plagiarizing), I can just link to JA Konrath?s original post. It won?t absolve all of my sins, but that ought to be good for at least one Hail Mary.

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