Thursday, August 30, 2012


I've talked about how to write, what you need to do to market yourself, and how you should develop a plan in your approach to your writing career.  However, there is one more tricky part all writers either need to master or get others to master for them if they're to pay their bills through this crazy writing stuff.

You've got to get people to buy your work.

There are a lot of people out there who seem to think that flat out asking people to buy your work is unseemly.  I've spoken to more than one person who thought that "the work should speak for itself."  That's all fine and dandy if your name is King or Brown, but if nobody knows who you are, you've got to do something to convince others to buy your stories.

There is no right way to do this, but there are a number of wrong ways to:

1.  Spam is bad.
We've all gotten those annoying emails in our inboxes.  "ENLARGE YOUR PACKAGE!"  "AARP WANTS YOU TO BUY INSURANCE!"  "DON'T MISS THE BOAT ON THIS DEBT CONSOLIDATION OPPORTUNITY!"  Yada, yada, yada...

These are untargeted emails that go out to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in the vain hope that 1% of the people will respond.  I instantly delete these, unopened.  Not only do I have no interest in these, but I don't know what I did to give the spammer the impression I was ever interested in something like what they're pushing.

If you open up your email address book and send a blanket email to everyone on the list hawking your book, you're sure to do one thing - you'll piss off a lot of people.  If you're lucky, they'll just delete the email.  However, I've seen people lose friendships over such blatant annoyances.

2.  Using people.
Networking is something we all need to do at some point.  It helps to make connections with people who are in our field.  We might be able to help each other at some point.  Unfortunately, a large number of people grab these connections and promptly turn around and ask for favors.  You know...from people they didn't know only days before.

I can't recall the number of times I've heard a story like this -
New author:  "Great website.  You have such talent!"
Established author:  "Thanks.  I appreciate you stopping by."
New author:  "Hey, now that we're friends, can you talk about my new book on your site?"

This kind of naked grab for attention is classless.  It's one thing if you've established a relationship, helped each other out, and the other person has offered to help you out.  It's quite another to cozy up to someone for the sole purpose of them helping your career.  The first one helps establish a symbiotic relationship; the second one is a parasite.

3.  Your book is your only topic.
I love my work.  I pour my heart and soul into what I'm writing, and when I'm not writing, I think about it.  Still, I recognize that not everyone is as enthusiastic about my writing as I am.

There are some writers out there who talk only about their latest story and why you should buy it.  I call this the Used Car Salesman approach - you follow people around and won't let them go until they've committed to your work.  This is another way to lose friends in a hurry.  Good friends will be happy you've completed a novel, but they don't want it shoved in their face 24/7.

So, what can you do?  Well, I've introduced a personalized style myself.  Yes, I approach people I know and ask them if they'd be interested in my book.  I ask once, and I tailor the email to that person so they'll know this wasn't spam sent to a billion others.  I'll outline what the story is about and tell them that if they're interested, I'd love to add their email to my list.  At that point, I back off - the next move is on them.

Some folks have come back and said, "Glad you're writing a book, but it doesn't sound like it's for me."  Others have ignored my pitch.  All of that is fine.  If there is no response, or if the response is a "no," I leave it at that.  There's no hounding of people, no trailing them like a lost puppy.  I understand that they're adults, and they've made their choice clear.  And since I value their friendship more than their money, I don't press and risk that friendship.

If someone expresses interest, the only thing I say after they have my work is that I'd be honored if they shared it with their friends.  Word of mouth is one of the strongest selling points with books, so a recommendation from a friend is more likely than not to get me to read something, but that's got to be the reader's choice.

It's easy in the early stages of a writing career to alienate people, and the desire to get off the ground is the greatest temptation for writers in this regard.  All I ask is that you take a step back and think on how you'd like to be approached on something, then let that guide you.  Otherwise you risk your career before it even gets started.

Speaking of solicitation, since you're on this website, I'll assume you might have at least marginal interest in reading something new.  If so, and you'd be interested in buying a copy of Akeldama down the road(once it's published), please let me know either through emailing me or in the comments.  And if not, I still hope you enjoy the rest of my rambling.


  1. I would be interested in reading your book, I happen to like vampires as villains and not sparkling, romantic, teenager-seducers :) Good luck to you!

    1. Jen - that'd be great! Could you email me a personal email address?