Sunday, 17 April 2011

Soft Sell vs. Hard Sell: A Rant

I am by no means an expert in marketing. In fact, if someone were to accuse me of being the worst saleswoman ever, I wouldn't argue the point. I tried to sell Mary Kay once. It was a disaster.

It remains to be seen just how well I market my books. Let's hope I do a heck of a lot better flogging my novels than I did flogging eyeshadow. :-)

I do, however, know what works for me as a READER. Granted, each reader is different. Some may be swayed by a swanky video (Check out this book trailer for Ann Aguirre's Enclave. Sheer awesome!). Others may only buy based of word of mouth or what they find on library shelves. Still others may be sucked in by a really b
eautiful cover. For me what works is a combination of recommendation and soft sell.

As far as I'm concerned there's nothing more annoying than a hard sell. Well, maybe one thing: an author who claims on his blog he DOESN'T hard sell, then turns around and tries to hard sell on Twitter.

No names, but there is an author I follow who does this very thing. It drives me nuts to sign onto my Twitter account and find 6 tweets on one day telling me Book X is on sale for 99 cents.

Ugh! I don't care! I heard you the first time! And unle
ss you're an uber fan of said author, it's doubtful you're going to rush over to Amazon and buy his eBook for 99 cents. Maybe I'd bite if he said "Book X, a tale of murder, mayhem and monkeys. At Amazon for 99 cents." But he doesn't. He just throws his price point in my face a dozen times a day hoping it will stick. It doesn't. It just annoys me and chances are I will never buy a single book of his because every time I see his name I get annoyed all over again.

It's kind of like when the local furniture store puts up giant sale signs in all the windows. NOBODY CARES! Why? Because the local fur
niture store ALWAYS has giant sale signs in the windows.

Cry wolf, anyone?

So, the soft sell, how does that work?

For me, as a reader, it works REALLY well. And if it works on me, the reader, it will work on other readers, as well.

I think back to some of my very favorite authors. A couple of years ago I'd never even heard of these people. So, how'd I discover them?

One word: SmartBitches.

I honestly don't remember how I found in the first place. I think I read an article or saw something on telly about their book Beyond Heaving Bosoms. I know I thought it was hilarious so I checked out their website and am now a regular reader. I am not a fan of romance, per say, but I love paranormal romance, scifi romance, urban fantasy, steampunk with romance elements, and so on, etc., etc.

All of these genres or sub-genres are covered over at SBTB and I found loads of new books and authors to try. Some of them are my new best friends, figuratively speaking.

I discovered Nalini Sing, MelJean Brook, Gayle Ann Williams, Ann Aguirre, Joss Ware, Jesse Petersen and Gail Carriger directly because of this website. Someone either mentioned their books, reviewed their books, or their books were advertised on the website, and these are only a handful of the authors I've found. I've found many others either on the SBTB site, or through the blogs of members of the site.

Recently I started following JA Konrath. His site A Newbie's Guide to Publishing is A-Ma-Zing! But it isn't only knowledge I've found there, I've found a plethora of thriller, mystery and scifi writers whose works I'm dying to try. Not to mention the paranormal romance and urban fantasy writers who covers are so sexy they make me drool. My Amazon wishlist is growing by the day.

But I digress. What I'm saying is that THIS is how readers find authors. Through blogs and websites and so forth. And I don't believe they buy a book because they have a big
flashing neon sign thrust in front of their nose screaming "BUY ME! BUY ME! I'M 99CENTS!"

I believe readers buy because something piques their interest. For me it's a cool cover or a short blurb that makes me want to find out more about the book. Or it's an author interview or blog post where the author's sense of humor shines and I realize I like his or her style. It's a tweet that makes me snort coffee, or a recommendation from a friend or fellow writer.

So, please, fellow authors, do yourselves and your readers a favor and avoid the hard sell at all costs. And if you find me falling off the wagon, smack me upside the head, won't you?


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