Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Last Hard Sell

I could have written this yesterday when, despite strenuous combatative mental efforts, I felt somewhat despondent. I could have used this forum to vent: to decry the appalling waste of six hours of my life, to lament the vanity of my efforts, to call into question the wisdom and value of my actions. I could have done that yesterday, but I was hoping a good night's sleep would take the edge of my disappointment. It seems I may have been mistaken.

As part of my continuing efforts to sell my novel, Loathe Your Neighbor, I travelled to Gerringong where a street market is held once a month. At short notice, I was able to get a table, in a good location just inside the entrance to the Town Hall. It was a fresh, sunny morning. My mood was hopeful, and doubtful.

I greeted nearly everyone who walked past.Twenty six of these greetings turned into conversations. I handed out a dozen or so business cards. People talked to me, asked me questions, gave me advice, encouraged me, looked at my books, talked about what they liked to read, and what they had written themselves. Just before nine o'clock I sold a copy of my debut novel, Devolution. Forty five minutes later, I sold a copy of LYN. With that sale, I covered the cost of the table, my mood was bouyant. However, that was my last sale.

A number of people said they would think about it. Still more said they had already spent their money. Others said they simply couldn't, or shouldn't buy any more books. They wished me well. They walked away.

I couldn't help think of my taxi driving days when I once worked ten hours and took home thirty dollars. I couldn't help consider the fact that I had sold two books accidentally, a week ago when I was having dinner with a group of guys from my church. I couldn't help but be hurt but the words 'It costs too much.' I couldn't help but be discouraged by the guy who self published a book and walked into bookshops, and sold fifteen hundred copies. I received so many suggestions on how to sell LYN, and I have tried most of them, but my success has been underwhelming. I've had enough.

Was I only making conversation with people yesterday because I wanted them to buy my book? Yes. Do I like talking to  people? Yes, but I wouldn't go anywhere specifically just to say hello to people, and have a chat. Am I tired of devising new ways to reach people? Yes. I'm not a salesman. It's time to concentrate on the next book. I've done all I can. Enough is enough. This post is too long and I don't want to write any more like this. When I cannot enjoy the fact that two complete strangers risked $20 of their hard earned money to buy my books, I know it is time to step back from this marketing madness. As Kenny said, "You've got to know when to hold 'em, and know when to fold 'em."

Photograph source:


  1. How frustrating! Have not gone through this step yet, but feel your pain. Just purchased a Nook version of Loathe Your neighbor. Hope that gives some cheer!

  2. I'm sorry you had such a long day with only two books sold. I'm not sure I could have done that and if I did, I know I would have walked away just as despondent.

    Maybe it is time to remind yourself of the fun and excitement of writing and creating stories again and see what happens from there. Maybe try and different genre in short story format, mix things up, test yourself, see what is fun and gets your sparks going again.

    Yesterday sounds hellish. Time for you now!

  3. I am sorry that it is not going too well for you. I think you are brave to have taken the risk to sell your book at the market anyway. I can tell you for a fact that I would not have had the guts to do what you did. I think people no longer appreciate he written word as much. I never think spending money on a book is an expensive buy, as you can read that book over and over again. Thank you for visiting my blog. I appreciate it. I truly wish you all the success in the world and please, do not give up on your dream.

  4. Crushing to be sure—I'm so sorry, David. The problem with all the "how to pimp your book advice" is that it assumes every book sells the same way. Frankly, that's BS. If you write a cozy mystery or epic fantasy, there is an easily identifiable audience already corralled, ready, and waiting. All you have to do is give them a little shove. However, if you write general or literary fiction? It's a whole different ballgame, and unfortunately you're playing on the losing team.

    Keep writing. The only proven literary sales technique is tenacity. Don't give up.

    VR Barkowski