No Marketing Experience? Share What You Love.
“Everyone thinks publishing companies sell your books. But they don’t. You sell your own books. Publishers publish books. Authors sell them.”
I really did want to be published. But, what did I know about selling? How would I sell books? I’ve never sold anything. Well, I sold White Cloverine Salve when I was a kid. The ads to become an agent came in comic books. Even kids – well, maybe especially kids – could fill out the form and become an agent. During the 50’s there were 300,000 of us agents selling Cloverine Salve. 60% of that marketing force was kids working for quality premiums.
I was working for a bow and arrow set. The premium catalogue said it was made of lemon wood. That sounded so exotic, I thought it must be something very special. I read it over and over and dreamed of the day the mailman ....
I can still picture myself shivering in the backyard practicing how to string the bow (you can’t string a bow with mittens on), knocking the arrow (a new vocabulary word), and shooting it into a cardboard box with a target drawn on with crayons. I couldn’t wear my winter jacket either, because the arm guard wouldn’t stretch over the sleeve. So I stood in the snow with neither mittens nor jacket, and enjoyed the rewards of my hard-earned sales. My Granddad said I could sell snow to an Eskimo. I did sell a lot of Cloverine Salve. When you want something badly enough…
Of course, I sold Girl Scout Cookies. When I was a Girl Scout our parents didn’t take signup sheets to their offices, or send out email blasts. We girls put the boxes of cookies in our wagons and bike baskets and knocked on doors up and down the block. The competition was stiff with lots of Brownie Scouts in my blue-collar neighborhood. I was earning credit to go to Girl Scout camp in the summer. It was the only way I could go, so it was important to me. I sold enough cookies to be able to go to camp every summer. That must have been several wagon loads.
In high school I needed cash in addition to my babysitting money, to get my homecoming dress out of lay-away at Montgomery Wards. I made some cute yarn octopuses in our school colors that sat on the students’ shoulders at the ball games. Everyone loved them and bought them for a buck. Even the teachers bought them. I stuffed my purse full of dollar bills and took my dress out of lay-away. I’m not sure why we thought an octopus was a good thing. We were wildcats. My mom shook her head. A purple and white octopus? Really, Deanna.
In college I dripped used candle wax and crayons over bottles and made romantic “Italian Candles.” I sold them for $2 and $3, depending on their size. Practically every room in my dormitory had one or two. Lucky we didn’t burn Phillips Hall down. I was desperate for money.
As a young wife and mother I sold all kinds of things. I sold my wedding dress to buy a kitchen table. I sewed doll clothes, children’s clothing, made Christmas wreaths out of IBM punch cards and silver spray paint. One year I made beautiful Raggedy Ann’s and Andy’s and sold them at bazaars to make Christmas money. I sold Leiter’s fine fabrics to other women who sewed.
I taught my marketing techniques to my Girl Scout troops. We made and sold gingerbread houses, unusual gift items, and then created a dance show that we marketed throughout the council to other troops and service units. We earned enough money in three years to take the entire troop of twelve plus four adults to Our Chalet International Girl Scout Center in Adelboden, Switzerland, and then backpacked around Europe.
Our secret? We sold quality, believed in our product, and we took the product to the right customers and let them know they were special. That sells. I’d already learned that. We also worked very hard, consistently, over a long period of time. And, we had a goal that was important to us.
Okay, so I did have some sales experience after all. I’d never sold books, though. I love books. More than anything I own, I love books. Could I actually sell books? Just for the Moment: The Remarkable Gift of the Therapy, my first book, was under contract and would soon be published. I prayed. I was ready to try…
That was my first Selling Books miniblog. It seems a long time ago I wrote it. Now I have seven books to sell and what I’ve discovered is I love selling books. I’ve learned a lot about selling, a lot about people and a lot about myself. Selling something you believe in and love, is another way of sharing it.