Marketing Like "Job"
Over the last five years I remember times my patience was tried: The time the store owner who’d invited me to sign forgot I was coming. She wasn’t there and left no directions for the teens running her store. Remember when I ran over a box of my books at a reenactment! The time my book order didn’t arrive and I had to have the launch party without the books. The time a school district took six months to pay their bill for my books. The Daughter of the Confederacy who sat four feet away from me for four days but spoke not a word to me because I was born in the North. The hundreds of times I’ve written to schools, book stores and libraries and never received a response, not even no, thank you. The time I booked a hotel an extra night to be part of Friday History Day for schools at a reenactment and the event was cancelled because they didn’t have school that day. They didn’t know this? The hot sunshiny day with no clouds in Georgia, when one small cloud directly overhead, the one tiny green pin ......
Even before getting to the point of selling, authors need patience in research, editing, in writing and rewriting. I’ve needed a boatload of patience to get me through hours of learning the new technology that helps me write, edit and market my books better. Patience waiting to hear—or not—from a publisher about a submission. Waiting for the contract, patience with the editors who see from a different perspective, patience while the press pumps out your book and ships them. Waiting! And finally, patience while selling the books.
The amazing thing is how infrequently my patience has been tried. Marketing almost every week since 2010, I’ve been face to face with thousands of readers and customers and potential aggravation. I’ve traveled thousands of miles and only had one flat tire and that was while parked in a parking lot next to a tire dealer. I’m so grateful for the experiences and opportunities and the diverse people I’ve met while patiently selling my books.
I’ve also had the opportunity to observe how the lack of patience works against one. The author who spent the afternoon at a group signing moaning into her cell phone about the slow business and complaining of the heat and wishing she were elsewhere; meanwhile her potential readers eyed her and passed by not wishing to interrupt her tirade. There was the writer whose table was inside a fenced area with all nine of us authors. It was difficult to get into the area and out of the way of the foot traffic. I saw how bad the location was so I picked up my table and put it out in the midway under a tree and did very well. He grumbled all day and didn’t come back the next day. He told every customer who came near the area how unhappy he was and how unfortunate for everyone that he wouldn’t be back. Poor Eyeore. In Bentonville in 99 degree heat the other author left at noon saying no one was coming because it was too d--- hot. He was sitting on the same porch as me. I was selling like crazy, making contacts and new readers. He was reading a magazine, smoking his cigarette, and grumbling about the heat, so no one bothered him as he simmered in his rage about how early he’d had to get up to be there and no one cares.
When marketing your books, or any other product, you can create a patient selling environment. It can be welcoming to others or oppressive. You can look happy to see the one who comes or you can make them sorry they came to see how unhappy you are.
Some situations are aggravating. But keep it in perspective. You can’t sell without opportunity. Be grateful you had one, even if it is disappointing. If you can learn from the disappointment you can prevent its recurrence. This is an opportunity to increase in patience. Look forward to the next time. If it’s something out of your control, then let it alone. If rage wins, you lose. Patience always wins. Job knew this.