I will, right after you kiss my A**
I’m sorry but I’ve hit the wall. I’m tired of it. I don’t want to be asked to “like” your product page or check out your website or buy your book. The fact that we follow each other on Twitter or are brand new Facebook friends just isn’t enough. We might get to the point where we talk about each other’s work and I may be interested in buying your book at some point but it can’t be the first thing you ask me to do. It absolutely has to stop.
I follow people on Twitter that I find interesting, and I “friend” people on Facebook based on the same presumption, but when I receive an automated (or even worse, real) message instantly coming back telling me I HAVE to buy their bestselling book because it’s #43 in Fiction/Suspense/Baltic Mysteries/Protagonists whose name begins with the letter “L”, I’m pretty sure we’re going to have a short-term relationship. Now, just to set the record straight, I do know a little about marketing and I understand that as Indie authors we are responsible for a whole lot more than just writing. I’ve managed and trained salespeople for the past twenty-five years. I know sales, but I would never ask a salesperson to immediately ask for the order. It’s not as simple as that. So, I’m going to tell you what it takes to earn my business. After all, if you’re an author, I’m your customer, your reader. I love my kindle and I love finding great reads before any of my friends have found them. I’m the guy who likes to say, “I just finished Laurie Boris’ new book and I loved it. You’ve read it, right?” Or, I’ll say, “That book, what’s it called, The London Blitz Diaries book by Victoria Aldridge, didn’t that blow your mind? You haven’t got it yet? I got it when it was .99 cents.” Yep, I’m that guy. I’m the guy who found the new band before they were even on the radio and I want to be the guy who discovers the Indie author before anybody else has heard of them. I just need to feel like I’ve made the discovery on my own, because if I feel like you’ve spammed me, it doesn’t matter how good your book is or how much I want to read it, I won’t. I’m funny like that.
So, as a fairly typical reader, here are some of the things you can do to earn my business:
1. Invest in our relationship. Get to know me and what I like. That’s easy to do. Whether you check out my Facebook or Twitter page or even one of the blogs I write you’ll get a pretty good idea what floats my boat. In sales it’s called “qualifying”. Qualify me first before you try and close the deal.
2. If you’re going to try and impress me with your work make sure your product page is the absolute best it can be. I’m a recovering cynic. Most of the time I’m very open-minded but from time to time I have a slip and instead of giving the benefit of the doubt I look for faults. For example, if I think a book cover is extremely amateurish I’m going to move onto the next book. Or, if the synopsis sounds like it’s trying too hard and not quite making it, I’ll pass. For example, although it’s okay to compare your book to other books, don’t make it sound like every other novel out there. It needs to be fresh and different and of course, professional. In other words, presentation is everything. If the car hasn’t been washed the customer probably isn’t going to want to test-drive it, is he?
3. Make sure your reviews are legitimate. If you’re an Indie author, chances are I know the same people you know. So, if the majority of your reviews are glowing praises, calling you the next John Irving, and the reviewer’s names all sound very familiar to me I’m not accepting them as unbiased. I know, this is touchy because we all have reviews written by other authors but if I’m checking out a book I want to see the majority of reviews being written by random readers or professional review sites. When a random reader reviews a book it reads differently. The rating is secondary to me. I don’t necessarily need to see a 4.9 rating from 200 reviews, in fact sometimes negative reviews can get me interested too but I need to get a sense that the majority of your reviews are written by either professional reviewers or random readers. In retail sales, if you’re going to “talk up” your product, whether it’s a house or a car or a recreational vehicle, you have to make sure the information you’re giving is one hundred percent accurate and it’s no different with our books.
4. Finally, don’t try and “hard-close” me. You may be able to sell me your book but as I said earlier, I need to think I made the decision all on my own. This is a soft-close. This is when I feel that you have my best interests at heart and you’re not trying to sell me something I don’t want or need. This goes back to my first point. Once you’ve gotten to know me, feel free to tell me what’s going on with your book. You never know, I might just want to take a look at it.
So, as I sit here in my glass house, throwing stones, I will tell you that I haven’t always been this spiritually enlightened. I’ve come dangerously close to that line in the sand and I’ve probably crossed it from time to time in some reader’s minds. When I first published my book I thought I was so unique that everyone would want to know about it immediately. Little did I know that you guys were all out there with your own unique self-published books, too. And, I’m the guy who wandered around Vancouver International Airport a few months ago handing out business cards to fellow travellers who were reading on their kindles. And, if you’re a book reviewer or blogger or even better yet, a book club administrator, I will try and “friend” you. I’ve been thrown in Facebook jail many times because of my um, assertiveness when it comes to having the right kind of friends. And, I’m sure there are probably other lines that I’ve crossed too, but I always try and consider whether or not what I’m doing is blatantly spamming and I always try and abide by the four guidelines listed above. And, if I don’t, if you ever see me deviating from this and spamming, let me know. This is a very transparent industry. Whether it’s with genuine concern or because we’re waiting for somebody to fall, we watch each other and I’m sure if one of you sees me crossing that line you’ll let me know. And, if I receive the link to your book without at least a polite introduction I will, without a doubt tell you to kiss my a**. It’s permitted, and I hereby give you all the permission to do the same.