Take in that title with a grain of salt, because it is me, after all 😉
With a few years of publishing experience under my belt, I’ve come to the conclusion that one hallmark of an immature author is the temptation to try and sell, sell sell all your books to anyone who knows how to read, regardless of their genre preference or whether they even know you. It’s hard work to convince strangers who’ve never heard your name to give your book a chance, but doing so can make you look like that attention-craving six-year-old no one thinks is cute, except her parents.
That’s why I’ve decided to drop that idea completely. I no longer use social media, or even this website, as a platform to sell books.
You may be thinking that’s crazy. How can I call myself an author and not care about selling books? I do, obviously. But my ‘technique’ has completely changed. Gone are the days when I’d peddle my book to strangers like a Jehovah’s Witness banging on your door with unsolicited pamphlets, often with the same results: a slammed door in my face (metaphorically speaking). It’s annoying and impersonal. You, the potential buyer, are reduced to just another number to brag about. My interaction with you would be just another canned sales pitch that dozens of others have heard before.
My new focus is building relationships. When I hibernate in my apartment to write with little distractions, I use Twitter or other blogs I follow to interact with people who share my interests: the very topics I write about. In fact, that is precisely how I found out about Rachel Held Evans, one of my new favorite Christian bloggers and author. Someone I know retweeted a link to one of her blog posts, and I’ve been a devoted customer ever since.
I’m much better at cultivating relationships than trying to sell anything. It takes time, but the payoff is always worth it, and it’s mutual. I’ve been frequenting the same independent coffee shop ever since I moved to Colorado two years ago, and most of the staff knows me by name now. They know I come there to write books, and most recently, I received a message on Goodreads from a patron who heard about me from one of the baristas. That was awesome.
This doesn’t mean every person who knows me there will buy my books, but that’s okay. As I said before, that’s no longer the point. I don’t believe in karma in the spiritual sense, but when it comes to friendships and networking, I do believe you get back what you give. I have learned the difference between seeing people as people instead of merely customers, and I think that makes for more genuine writing in the future.