Writers, learn how to talk to people

It’s Monday so that means it’s time for another Monday Marketing post.  Today I want to discuss the how not to talk to people.  In a marketing sense, there are definitely some right and wrong ways to deal with people.

A quick thanks to all those who sent supportive messages, following my last blog post.  I am feeling better and I’m sorry I had to miss Friday’s post. 

Writers, learn how to talk to people. How NOT to sell your book.

This post isn’t about helping shy or introverted writers reach out and talk to people.  It’s about reminding writers that even if you have a great book and you’re really proud of it, there are ways to talk to people (potential readers/fans etc).

Things to avoid…

The Hard Sell

One would think it would go without saying that you should ALWAYS avoid the hard sell.  After all, no one likes that.  No one appreciates that.  Whether it’s the guy following you around the car showroom to some company cold calling you during dinner – we really hate people invading our space just to constantly tout their wares.

And yet… this still happens, a lot.

One thing I receive is Stranger Hard Sell.  Which is just weird.  Someone might follow my Twitter feed then instantly message me with “Hi, I think you’ll love my book “Spy-ey McSpy, a Spy Thriller, here’s a link to buy it.”

Now while the book title was (hopefully) pure fiction, the rest of that message is pretty spot on.

So, what’s wrong with the hard sell?

Let’s take Mr Pushy’s DM message.  Firstly, he just followed me.  There has been ZERO interaction or engagement with me.  So right away I don’t feel invested in this guy or anything he wants to sell me.

Next, he didn’t even address me by name so that screams that he either hasn’t taken the time to check/remember my name OR this is a copy and paste job (not good).

Finally, even if I WAS interested (which I’m not) that message gives me nothing.  Am I even your target audience?  Will this book be my thing or are you risking me actually reading it, hating it and then leaving you a bad review?

No one likes the hard sell and we really don’t like it from strangers.  This is not how you network with potential readers.  Take some time to actually make connections before you consider launching in.

The User

This is one that crops up more these days, unfortunately.  This person may actually have some interaction with you.  Maybe they like the odd post, add a funny comment or two before asking for a favour.

Do they want you to read their book?  Do they want you to promote their book?  Do they want you to recommend your book?  I’ve had people who’ve barely had any interaction ask me to do all three.

Now, I love supporting other writers.  I have always believed we are a community more than we are competition.  There is enough space for all and we should help each other.  We should read each other’s books, promote them, review them and spread the love.

I have NO issue with that.

However, the User is the person who asks for these favours (often numerous favours) and then vanishes or refuses to reciprocate.

What I mean is we should be supportive of each other.  If you ask another writer to read and review your work, to promote your work or join your Facebook Group or Author Page… then it’s pretty rude to not return the favour for them.

There’s a considered etiquette whereby if you are asking someone to further your career, increase your sales, add to your reviews…you need to be willing to do the same or at least be supportive to them.

Now obviously if someone asks you to read their book and you’re not their target audience, that’s fine.  But if they were willing to promote your book, mention it on Facebook, tell their friends… it’s considered polite that you do something for them.  Even something as simple as a Facebook or Twitter post, letting your followers know about the book.

Yes, we’re all busy but there are busier writers who still manage to make time to support those who assisted them, so try and find some time.

As someone who offers guest posts to other writers as a way to support them and give them a platform, I am always saddened when a guest poster doesn’t even share their post (which is beneficial for them as well as my blog) or reply to the comments received.  If people give you a platform, be respectful, at the very least share the post and always reply to any comments you get. 

The Unprofessional

This person seems to be cropping up often in regards to dealing with beta readers, critique partners and reviewers.

You are a business.  Your name, not just your book is a brand.  You represent yourself and your work.

With that in mind, you should always be friendly, approachable, polite and professional.  I have been frustrated to see writers in Facebook Groups complaining furiously about their reviewers or betas from other groups.

Some of these comments and posts have been extremely personal attacks.  Often for what seems like either an honest review or a detailed critique.

We all see our work as great (or is that just me?) and no one likes to give it someone else and find out it’s not as great in their eyes.  But if you ask for honest reviews, you have to accept them.

That means all the 1-stars and the bad comments.  Now if you got a number of bad comments that were things like “Rubbish” which is unhelpful and pointless… then maybe you need to vet your reviewers better.

It’s not just about finding anyone and everyone to review.  Be thorough, look at who actually does review books, what sort of reviews they write.  Make sure they are your target audience.  If you are just asking random people for reviews, you may get ones like that.  Not everyone likes writing reviews or detailed/helpful reviewers.

You’re going to get bad reviews.  People are going to HATE your book.  Because your book is not catered to everyone because that’s an impossibility.  This is one of the reasons it’s recommended writers don’t read their reviews.  Reviews aren’t for us to read.  They are for other readers.

Learn to take criticism, critiques, bad reviews.  It’s part of the business.  Learn to control what you can, which is your reaction to those things.

If you want to be a successful writer you need to make connections, you need to truly engage with people not just sell your book.  If people connect with you, are interested, they will become interested in what you write.

Have you ever come across any of these kinds of people?  Let me know in the comments below.  Share your experiences.

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Thanks for getting all the way through to the end of the post.  Was a long one today.  🙂  Hope you found it useful and please check back on Wednesday when a new guest poster will be here.

Happy writing

Ari

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13 thoughts on “Writers, learn how to talk to people

  1. I’ve come across plenty of these people. Some, I simply ignore; but more often I invite them to join a book club I’m a member of and suggest that they’ll find great support by supporting others. 🙂 Thanks for spreading the word in your insightful post, Ari. 🙂 Sharing…

  2. Thanks for the insightful post, Ari. Sadly to say, I think I have met all types you mentioned in your article. The competitiveness in the industry sometimes drive some people to do whatever they can to promote their works. I agree with you that promoting our works is fine but can be done in an better way through making connections and supporting each other than just simply ‘selling’.

    • Hi Melka, thanks so much for your comment. I am glad you like the post. Yes, it’s a sad fact we are all starting to stumble across these people.

      I think since the birth of Self Publishing, authors are treating the industry like there are only so many customers and they really only want to buy a certain qty of books so you have to get in there first.

      Whereas books, like music, appeal to almost everyone and there will be readers for everyone (for everyone who puts the work in to making their manuscript polished…I should add) – a hard sell is really not necessary.

      I really wish people were more supportive of each other. We aren’t all competing. If someone buys person A’s book, it doesn’t mean they won’t by person B’s book – but people treat it like the buyer is only going to buy one so let’s push hard to make sure they buy MY book! SMH

  3. You did a great job of summing up some HUGE turn-offs to marketing in general. I’ve generally been working with people I know well enough to know they don’t play any of these games, but I’ve gotten a few of the ‘hard sell’ followers, who mysteriously disappear after giving me a link to their blog, and run into a few of the un-professionals too, calling their readers names etc. I suppose everyone’s just trying to ‘make it’ in the best way they can think of, but there must be better options!

    • Thanks Anne, glad you like the post. Yes, I’ve been storing up this post for a while as I’ve seen more and more of these tactics creeping up.

      I really want people to know there are better and MUCH more effective ways to introduce people to your books, your characters than running up to people screaming BUY MY BOOK!

      I get so many comments in my spam saying “I like your article… follow my blog. I write X book. You can buy my book at X link” and I just think, wow you aren’t even trying. Delete!

      I still can’t understand how ANYONE can call their readers names. Seriously, how can that possibly help you!

      Like, just because a reader might not like one of your books, doesn’t mean they might not like another of your books. (I love Sarah J Maas’s ACOTAR books, I don’t like her Throne of Glass books – only read the first and really hated it).

      Calling someone names will definitely have them not reading anything else you write.

      • I might be wrong, but it seems like those kinds of behaviors have gotten worse with the advent of so much interaction online- like people forget that manner still count, even when writing versus talking.
        Ah well.

  4. Hi Ari. I hope you’re feeling better. 😷💐

    I fear I sometimes become a user. I’m so disorganized and forgetful that I sometimes don’t follow up on my part of arrangements. 🙁

    • Thanks so much Pearl. I am feeling better, thank you.

      Oh Pearl, there is no way you could be a User. I’ve known you for years and I have only ever seen how supportive and giving you are within this writing community.

      From comments and interactions to sharing posts and giving encouragement. Definitely no User behaviour with you!!

      Every time you’ve guest posted for me, you’ve always replied to every comment. Please don’t think you are anything but awesome! *HUGS*

  5. About a year ago my wife and I were looking for a gift at Barnes & Noble. A young couple was nearby and I remember one of them asking for advice on a book or something. We’re pretty good at spotting B.S.. and immediately felt something was off about them. Turns out we were right.

    Their motive was not to shop and/or ask for advice from fellow shoppers, it was to sell. They had something, off hand I can’t remember, and wanted to give us a free sample. We pretty much chased them off. It was a rather odd experience to say the least.

    PS: Hope you’re feeling better.

    • How frustrating to be accosted while in a shop. I hate that kind of sell. Be honest, be open but don’t just push on people.

      Maybe doing the hard sell is how people become best sellers. Personally, if that’s what it takes to sell millions of books – I’d rather not. I just don’t think I can bring myself to do any kind of heavy sell.

      Thanks Bryan, I am finally feeling better 🙂

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