Monday, January 06, 2014

Promo Tip: "How's Your Book Selling?"

I understand these writers' annoyance at this question. To them it feels like someone is asking a more personal question than one should.

I STRONGLY urge you to look at this from a different perspective, particularly if you are self-publishing and thus your very own sales department.

There is only ONE correct answer to that question:

"Just great, thank you for asking!"


Because people are your buyers. Even people who ask these kinds of questions.  And people respond to positive encouragement.  If your book is doing well, clearly the implication is the person should buy and read it.

But more than that, it gets you in the habit of being positive about sales.

As the face of your book in the world, you want to get right to the heart of the matter too:  everyone should buy and read your book, so of course it's selling nicely, and here's a bookmark with how to order.

Someone asking about your book is an opportunity, not an intrusive personal question.

Talking about your book is business NOT personal.


Bill Scott said...

Great lesson there. One I'll use some day. I did chuckle at the writer's reply. Still smiling.

It reminded me of an interaction My ex and I had at one of his work events. He was ten years older than me. We were at a party and one of his coworkers said, "Oh, this must be your son."

"No," he said, "this is my boyfriend. When's your baby do?"

Fortunately, she laughed. She was fifty and svelte.
Unfortunately, he was not that quick witted all of the time.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Perhaps one day there will be a time I feel questions about my published novels are invasive, or I'm just jaded on the whole process. But I don't have published novels, so when that day comes, I think it'll be much like when I finally got a dog: I'll want to talk about it even if nobody else does.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

How's your column doing?
Great. The papers are in 100,000 households and they get 4M hits a month on line. Yup, the column has really taken off. My platform is expanding. I'm up for a Pulitzer.
How's that sound Janet?
Ah, maybe the Pulitzer is a bit much but, really it is doing great.

jenny said...

I don't have anything published yet but, I have to admit, when the few people who know about my authorial aspirations ask, "How's your story coming?" it does feel incredibly personal even though it most likely is simple, polite curiosity. And yet I never think twice about asking a self-employed friend, "How's business?" If her numbers are down or one of her employees is giving her problems, she might feel like that reflects on her in a personal way as well. So I like your perspective and I think in the long run it would definitely make it easier to detach a tiny bit from the deeeeply deep and personal aspect of writing and be all business when asked about it.

Anonymous said...

I think Jenny got it right...

I've always been a bit embarrassed when asked about it by the few who know. (which is partly why I haven't told many) And, they are probably just curious or being polite b/c I'm sure it's sometimes like that elephant in the room. But, to go a step further, in my opinion, it's the equivalent of asking someone "how's business?" while they are still looking at paint colors for their new shop. How's the writing? to them doesn't mean they want to know how hard it has been to develop characters, or to pull off a difficult plot twist, etc. What I think they really want to know is...did the book sell?

I hope to scream yes one day, before they even get the question out.

Terri Lynn Coop said...

There are three types of people who would ask this question:

1. Those who want you to succeed.

2. Those who want you to fail.

3. Those who are looking to fill polite conversation and the subjects of weather, pets, and the playoffs have been exhausted.

The Shark's tasty answer is perfect for all three.


Wintercom said...

I can't believe people actually ask these questions? True truth though - writing is too cruel of a business to take personally. Good luck especially with taking things personally that are now out of your hands while maintaining sanity/will to live/self-control from punching people in the nuts, &etc. Thanks for the great advice, as always!

Wintercom said...

@Terri nvm thanks for answering that question ;)

KayC said...

I completely agree with Terri's succinct summary.

When we put our work/writing (at some stage, hopefully) in the public arena we have to expect these sort of questions. If we want to be successful writers we need a professional response, not a personal one.

Elissa M said...

When my mom asked, "How's the book coming?" it was always personal and I always felt defensive. I don't know if she wanted me to succeed or fail- maybe she didn't know either.

Now she's not here to ask, and while that makes me a little sad, I also feel a touch relieved. It's no longer a loaded question for me, and I can cheerfully respond with Janet's answer.

Valerie said...

I'm always flattered when someone asks me about my writing. It shows that they were actually paying attention to me the last time we were chillin' like villains.

I also take the opportunity to practice my pitching (if I'm ready to) that way if I sound like an idiot, it's only my friend who's give me odd glares.

Linda Fox said...

It can be hard to answer questions like that without feeling like a fraud.

The best answer I've ever heard is, "You wouldn't believe it if I told you!" delivered in a positive, upbeat voice.

True either way:
- if you're selling, they probably would not believe how good it is
- if you're NOT selling, they would not believe that you're still trying to succeed in this