Sales isn’t a bad word

This is an excerpt from a book I wrote a few years ago regarding how to market and sell your book with limited resources.

There are a lot of negative stigmas associated with the word “Sales.” 

I don’t like that. 

I was listening to an interview with actor and former Fourth Doctor from the famous television series “Doctor Who,” Tom Baker, when he said something that I felt fit perfectly. 

I’m paraphrasing, but he said, “Everything is seduction. You seduce an employer to hire you and you seduce a new acquaintance into being your friend.” 

My quote isn’t exact. As a matter of fact, I’m probably even remembering it wrong, except for the part “Everything is seduction.” He definitely said that. 

I digress. My point is that your audience is only going to buy from someone they like, so seduce them. That’s what sales is. 

If I’m a printer salesman, I’m going to walk into a business, any business, and I’m not going to walk up to the secretary’s desk and say “Hey, wanna buy a printer?” 

That doesn’t sell anything, at all. 

Instead, I’m going to walk up to the secretary’s desk, and say something like, “Hi,” I’ll take my hat off and gently stick out my hand for a shake. “My name is Matt. How are you today?” 

That’s two sentences and I’ve said nothing about printers. Why? Because, even though it’s just small talk, it’s endearing. I’m demonstrating that I’m someone who actually wants to know how his or her day is going. 

I’m not being overly aggressive, I’m just being polite. The secretary knows that I’m there for some sort of business reason, but already he or she is more inclined to talk to me, just because I’ve disarmed them by being pleasant. 

I’ve seduced them. 

Of course, this is a staged example, but try it in a book environment. 

At your next book signing (or possibly your first, so, good luck!), don’t be the author that sits behind the table and waits for someone to engage them, but also don’t be the author who is shouting “Buy my book, please!” 

Instead, just greet everyone who walks within five feet of your table. If you’re feeling gutsy, walk around and introduce yourself. 

I spent 3 years selling e-readers, and while I was a trapped victim for the chatty people, I actually had them just as trapped in my web. My e-reader booth was set up directly in front of the door to the store, so I greeted anyone who came in with a very bright and sincere smile, a hello, and followed it up with a “How is your day going?” Somewhere around sixty percent of the time, people would just ignore me or nod as a means of acknowledging me. The rest of the time, they engaged me. They said hi back, or discussed their drive in. We began discussing other things, and I would find a way to turn it back toward the device that I was trying to sell. 

That works at your hypothetical book signing as well. You’ve made your greetings, you’ve asked them how they are doing, they feel obliged to ask you how you’re doing and you can easily spin it toward your books. 

For example: 

“I’m doing alright. How are you doing?” asks the random stranger walking by your table. 

“Me? I’m doing wonderful. I just accomplished my dream come true and became a published author,” you answer with pride and gusto! 

Now the random stranger walking by your table is inclined to ask you about your book or figuratively applaud your accomplishment. 

The point that I’m trying to make is that you need to engage people to succeed at making sales. I have seen authors sitting at their booths and playing on their iPads and never engaging a single person. Those same authors, hours later, were complaining because they didn’t sell a single book, but sitting directly next to them was an author with a mediocre book cover and a plot that didn’t sound overly exciting and he sold out of his books. The difference was that while the first author was playing Angry Chimpanzees on his iPad, the second author was having conversations with anyone who would give him the time of day. 

If you engage your audience, they will give you their time, and time really is money. 

Review: Hard Luck Hank Series by Steven Campbell

People read for a lot of different reasons. Unfortunately, a lot of stigmas are put on reading to make it sound like something you have to do for education, brushing up on modern times, or reading incredibly well-crafted fictional worlds with 35 layers of backstory you’ll never know. There’s nothing wrong with those, but TV seems to get away with so much more. If I tell a friend of mine that I love watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, simply because Charlie’s character is hilarious in his slapstick humor, then even if that person is only a fan of CSPAN, they’ll recognize my need for entertainment and listen as I ramble on about Charlie’s fixation on the world’s rat problem.

The same thing can’t be said, as frequently anyway, about books. We all know whom I’m talking about. That person or people that just finished Wheel of Time in a weekend, but if you wanted to talk to them about Yahtzee Croshaw, A. Lee Martinez, or Larry Correia they wouldn’t even realize they were rolling your eyes at you.

This is me telling you that it’s ok to read something for the pure enjoyment of it.

And that brings me to today’s review.

I led into this review with that long-winded disclaimer for a very good reason. I’m not trying to say that the Hard Luck Hank series isn’t hard literature. I’m sure that there is a solid argument that it could be. My statement is this: Hard Luck Hank should be read for the pure enjoyment factor.

This review is for the series as a whole, as I’ve binge read all of the main series and have only just started the short stories.

Hard Luck Hank by Steven Campbell is fun. Everything takes place on the space station Belvaille. Belvaille is 15 miles by 15 miles and part of the Colmarian Confederation, a government that seems to have a hard enough time keep it’s grip on just about anything. So much so, that when threatened by the military might of the Dredel Led species (sentient robots), they decided that the best way to protect themselves wasn’t to build up a stronger army or work on negotiations, but instead to mutate the entire population of the Colmarian Confederation.

Hank, the main character is one of those mutations (or is he?) and a resident on Belvaille. With how little the government watches and regulates it’s citizens, Belvaille has turned into a criminal city, with gangs and corrupt politicians running everything. Hank’s role, because of his social skills and his mutation (being incredibly strong and dense enough that most things can’t hurt him), is as a negotiator. If gangs are acting up or someone is in a bad way with the wrong people, Hank steps in to speak on their behalf.
This puts him in the thick of a lot of bad situations that make for excellent action scenes and great adventure.

Hank’s companions add to the flavor of this story. His ex is a corrupt politician and assassin and the closest thing he has to a best friend is a three-brained genius mutant with sociopathic tendencies (he randomly subjects the entire population of Belvaille to chemical and radioactive experiments in the name of science.

I wouldn’t even know what to compare this to in order to give you an idea of what this story is like. It’s serious and silly at the same time and entirely entertaining throughout.

I give everything in the Hard Luck Hank series 5 out of 5 stars. Check it out!

Review: Brightblade by Phipps and Suttkus

Brightblade (The Morgan Detective Agency Book 1) by [Phipps, C. T., Suttkus, Michael]

Brightblade is the newest book in Phipps’s and Suttkus’s United States of Monsters world. This is the world of New Detroit, where supernatural beings decided to make themselves known to everyone a few years back and now the world has to deal with them on a daily (or nightly, in some instances) basis.

Brightblade sticks out because it’s both a new story as well as what I can only describe as the linchpin. This story helps to show you how every other story is connected, aside from that big reveal of monsters being actually under your bed. It does this really well, reminding the readers that outside of the obvious books in the United States of Monsters series, there’s also the Red Room series by these guys.

If there’s one thing that these guys know how to do, it’s building a huge universe to play in.

Brightblade is much more than the “missing link,” though. We have a strong tale of a woman trained to be this generation’s Buffy the Vampire slayer, but much like Buffy, she is quickly learning that everything she’s trained to kill is too intricately woven into her personal life. The MacGuffin for the story lends itself well to her turmoil, as it seems to be the only thing that can untie the complicated knot that is her family and friends and potentially save her from joining them, but she’s struck with the realization that no one wants their “problems” to be undone.

The struggle is real as Ashley (the main character) has to decide if she can love her friends and family with the stains on their souls or if she should go against their wishes and cure them. Which is the bigger evil? How can she learn to unhate everything they are?

This was just another great story in the Phipps and Suttkus catalog and I’m a huge fan. The little nods to characters I’ve learned to love from other books helped to propel me into this story and introduce these new characters in a manner that made them feel new but also as if they were old friends.

It’s a great book and I give it 5 out of 5.

Unfortunately, it’s also made me yearn for the next Weredeer book… Get on that guys!

Alien: Legion (Fan Fiction Effort)

In case you were curious about my process or the amount of effort I put into writing a fan-fiction, I decided to give you a little peak with the notes I wrote for my take on where the Alien Franchise should go. Someday I’ll type this up. Hopefully before Ridley Scott steals it.

If you actually read through this and want to see more, let me know. My fan-fictions usually sit until I either want to remind myself how fun writing can be or someone demands more. Please feel encourage to comment on my concept or my writing process (notes like these before I type it up).

Additionally, if you can’t read my chicken scratch…well, I just don’t care. Go check out Gaiman’s, King’s, or any other author who’s posted their notes. My writing is gorgeous!


This Year In Writing (2019)!

No one who follows my adventures in penmanship will be shocked to hear that this year didn’t go quite as I intended it would in regards to my writing.
There were a lot of hurdles that stopped me from getting in front of a computer. Hurdles are detrimental to one thing, but aren’t necessarily bad.
For example, some of my hurdles were a big move that took up much of my spring, getting fired from a job that I was sure I had a great future from, a surgery that I hadn’t known I would need, and a toddler that (in defiance of my previous post about kids and writing) decided to become wonderfully clingy. I say wonderfully because it’s nice to be clung too, but at the same time it’s difficult to get anything done when you have a 30 pound, squirming weight attached to your ankle.
All of those things, even the surgery and getting fired, were great in there way and helped me succeed in my life in new and interesting ways. They were hurdles in that they stopped me from getting as far as I had hoped I would with my writing.
I fell behind on three major novels I’m working on, one anthology, and my blog. Somewhere in the middle of that, I started to lose faith in my skills as a writer and I’d be remiss to ignore the effect of mental health on writing (don’t worry about me, it was a brief period of time in which my self-confidence wained, but I’m back on track now).
My writing successes were hidden in there as well, though. We published The Tales of the Al Azif and I managed to make some serious forward momentum in regards to the third Andrew Doran novel. I’ve restarted the anthology project I’m working on with fellow writers David HamblingByron Craft, and John A. Delaughter, about 4 times and now their only waiting on me.
Needless to say, don’t surrender your Daven-verse Fandoms, yet. Each project I’ve mentioned in the past is still on the table and being worked on. Expect more from Broken Nights, Andrew Doran, spinoffs to the Broken Nights books, Satan’s Salesman 2, and the Multiverse Protection Bureau, as well as a few other projects I’m currently putting notes together for (including a potential radio drama styled serial. We’ll see.)
To my chagrin, my blog has turned into a list of apologies for derailed writing efforts, and that’s going to change. At the very least, I’m going to be writing here more frequently in the hopes that it encourages my other endeavors to stay on track.
Stay tuned for a great Lovecraft-inspired time travel book by four great authors as well as the next Andrew Doran novel – Andrew Doran and the Scroll of Nightmares.
At the end of the day, I know what I need to do to be a successful writer, and that’s to get the biggest hurdle out of my way: ME. Schedules and steady effort are what it’s going to take. It won’t be overnight, but I’ll get there.
Expect more reviews of things, as well! I just finished reading 7 Hard Luck Hank novels and I really want to talk about them.