Selling Books

One of the less attractive parts of being a writer is that you need to actually get your books into the hands of readers, who will in turn put money into your hands. You know, that whole trying to make a living thing that gets us all. The theory is sound. The execution for me as a writer is…well…faulty.

Let’s face it, like most writers I am a dedicated introvert. It isn’t that I don’t like people – I do. A lot! It’s just that the light chit-chat expected in a crowd of people is, to me, the emotional equivalent of a triathlon. I have no natural social talent to smooth the way. Exhausting. And no one gives me a medal or even a participant’s ribbon. Ever.

Life is totally unfair.

And so, convincing someone to buy my books, whether it‘s a bookstore manager, an editor, or a gaggle of readers at some kind of event is less than fabulous. I’m lousy at selling. I may live on vast landscapes in my head, but the much smaller landscape of day-to-day interactions are a foreign country where I have not quite mastered the dialect. I get the gist, but my response time is definitely on the slow side. Pidgin social skills.

But if life were easy we wouldn’t bother dying to get to heaven. So I get out there and try. The part I actually like best is talking to readers. I don’t care if they read the kind of book I write – I just like talking books. I’m as happy introducing a reader to a new book by someone else as I am offering my own. In fact, it’s a lot easier because I’m not worrying that maybe my book is not really so good. With someone else’s book, I know it’s a great read and I have no qualms.

This last weekend, my writer’s cooperative rented a booth at a huge event. Literally thousands of people wandered by. I pasted on a cheery smile and called “Hello” to anyone who made eye contact. And even though I managed to place a few books in readers’ hands, the conversations I remember best were with a man who was worried about his grandson’s academic difficulties, a woman who was trying to find positive books for her teenage foster child, an older woman who was losing her sight, and a mother whose daughter refused to read at all. I didn’t sell them a single book. Instead, we talked about coping, about family, about tying knots in the fraying ropes that hold us together.

That’s what I like best about talking books – it’s really talking life.

That’s why I write books – it’s about the realities of life.

And I hope sometime, you will talk with me about life and my books too.