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Archive for the ‘Sales’ Category

I’ve got a lot of years under my belt and in all that time I’ve learned a little something about a lot of things. I like gardens and plants and flowers, so I’ve learned which ones like sun and which prefer shade. I know which like a lot of water and which don’t like much at all. I’ve learned which ones look good with which others and which ones look better all by themselves. That’s one area where I know a little something, but I’m not really an expert.

I’m married and have raised three kids, so over the years I’ve done a lot of cooking. I know how to make things taste good. And to keep the boredon out of the whole process, I’ve tried to get creative with lots of dishes. So, now I’ve overheard others say, “Oh Alice . . . well, she’s a very good cook.” I’m glad to know that, but I also know that Martha Stewart doesn’t need to worry.

I’ve lived in several different homes and always liked to decorate them myself. I liked doing that, because I needed to only please my husband and myself in terms of its aesthetics. I don’t really know why others compliment the finished products. I always thought they were being polite. I think I know a little something, but I don’t think I’m an expert interior decorator.

And now a new one has popped up in my life. I have gotten two emails from other authors who have recently published books. They contacted me for advice on how to market their works. Well, yes, I have spent a few years marketing Becoming Alice and am happy to say I’ve had a fair amount of success in doing so. Of course my book never made it onto any Best Seller list and I am still being bombarded by others, like myself, who are now trying to sell me their expertise. None of their books have made the Best Sellerlist either.

So, I’d like to say that I obviously know a whole lot more about marketing a book than the newly published authors do, but I would never want to sell my knowledge to anyone. You see, I am not an expert at this undertaking either … otherwise I might have made it onto one of those coveted Best Seller lists.

I must admit however that I am mighty proud of what I know about gardening, gourmet cooking, decorating, perhaps playing tennis, and the relatively large number of books Becoming Alice has sold. At least I know a little something.

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Yesterday the little town in which I live had its first book faire. Well, it wasn’t strictly a book faire because the OjaiBookFest allowed renters of table space to sell goods such as decorated gords, crafts, pamphlets, and what-nots as well. However, as one of the booksellers (of Becoming Alice, A Memoir,) I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The first good thing that happened was that it didn’t rain despite the fact that it had been in the forcast for a week. Actully that is only partially true since the rain started at about two o’clock sending us booksellers into a frenzy to save our books from becoming soggy piles of wet paper ready for the recycler.That left me about three to three and a half hours to mind my table at the faire. In that period of time I sold a lot of books, but even better, I had a great time.

There is a method for being a bookseller at a faire. First of all the seller must be on his/her feet. So often when I looked around at the others, I found them sitting down, chatting with one another, having coffee and a snack and completely ignoring anyone that might be passing the table. The trick is to make eye contact with the passerby … not the person who’s selling something next to you. Once the passerby has stopped, smile at him/her. That’s the first invitation to maybe say something, like “Do you want to know what this book is about?” They may smile back, shake their head, and move on. That’s okay. Or, they may approach your table. That’s when you pick up your book and say, “You can find out what this book is about if you read this short synopsis on the back cover.”

If you’re lucky they’ll say, “Wow.” Then you can add whatever else you want. In my case I say, “It is a true story.” Now your passeby is engaged and will either ask more questions or make a remark like, “Oh, I’m from Portland.” Or, they might say, “I was in the war … I was with the occupation forces … we did this and that and this and that.” That’s the kind of engagement that ends up in a sale.

The best kind of engagement comes about when the passersby stop three feet from your table. They hesitate and look at the table and your invitation to read the synopsis doesn’t move them an inch closer to you. That’s when you smile and jokingly say, “You’re welcome to come and look at this book without buying it. It’s free to look … you can put it back down and walk away and I won’t mind at all.”

Of course, you already know that these passersby, who probably were afraid of a sales pitch, bought my book.

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I haven’t posted but one or two blogs this past month for one of two reasons. One is that I’ve untaken a move from one house to another of monumental propotions. This is not meaningful to anyone but me.

The other is that it seems that this blog isn’t going anywhere. I often feel that I’m talking to myself. If that is the case, then I might as well be writing a journal and should get off the internet altogether. What little connection I have established online has been with fellow writers who have many of my same aspirations and are experiencing many the same frustrations I have had.

Many of those who do find me online are so often interested in teaching me “how to” do things. These experts very often are others who have had no more background in writing, editing, publishing, marketing, etc. than me.

Therefore I have decided to take a new direction in 2011. Much as I like, admire, and often envy other writers, I plan to change the relationship I have had with them in the past. I am going to branch off and try to engage the readers of our material. I am going to try to understand what they like or dislike in our work. What are they reading? Why? What do they look for when they spend time reading? Were are they coming from? Do they prefer to read a book that is a paperback, or do they prefer the Kindle, or like product?

There is so much to know. I may even start a new blog, going down an entirely different route.

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My mother came from the Old World; by that I mean Europe, many decades ago. If you’ve read Becoming Alice you know her pretty well. One of the things I didn’t write about was her propensity for interjecting into our conversations sayings for the ordinary things that happen in life. One of her favorite was, “every pot has its own lid.” That one was used to make old maids feel better about being unmarried. It meant that there was a man out there somewhere for her that would fit her needs, just like there was a lid for every pot.

Lately, I’ve thought about another one of her favorites: “a watched pot doesn’t boil.” It has absolutely applied to my latest experiences on the internet. I have a habit of watching, and I mean almost daily, my statistics on various sites to which I am connected. I am curious to see if anyone, and how many people, might have read a blog after I’ve posted it. Often I get a few hits and then the numbers don’t go up any more. But I keep looking.

Another statistic I watch is Amazon’s Book Ranking for Becoming Alice. There, the numbers change all the time, but mostly in the wrong direction.

This last month, my normal routine has been completely disrupted. I have had to move out of my home of many, many years. I’ve had an estate (it’s a joke, it’s just used furniture) sale and arranged for a donation to charity for what’s left over. I am now having to face cleaning the whole place up. Therefore, there has been no time to check my stats anywhere.

It turned out to be a great thing, because my stats jumped considerably in positive directions on all sites, especially my Amazon site. Since I can’t figure out Amazon’s ranking system in the first place, in future I am not even going to look at it for days or weeks on end. After all, “a watched pot doesn’t boil.”

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I am what preople call a memoirist. I have not only written a book about an early segment of my life, Becoming Alice, but I am more likely than not one to pick a memoir to read over any other genre. I have just finished reading Elyn Saks memoir, The Center Cannot Hold, and know without a double that both of the above-mentioned books are true.

I am never sure about other memoirs authenticity however. Some time ago I had heard that Mary Karr’s memoir was fabricated. I do not know if that is true or not. How could I know such a thing? Then there was the case of the Oprah Book Club’s highly publicised con: A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. It proved to be entirely fabricated. This book sold 3.5 million copies and was on the New York Times Best Seller list for 15 weeks. Now, if Oprah and her entire book club staff can be conned, how can we readers know fact from fraud?

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I am in the process of dabbling in this social networking thing. I’m not sure I have the personality to really get out of it all that it is cracked up to be. I’m not looking for any long lost high school friends, or for that matter, college friends. I have lots of current friends with whom I have much more in common. Sometimes I wonder if the girl I was way back then was really me.

Nor do I find it interesting to read about what someone had for breakfast or how much trouble it is to go grocery shopping when they’d rather be writing their novel. That novel, or course, would be the next greatest American novel written.

And … I am really annoyed by the fact that a zillion posts are written by people who are trying to sell me something. But lately I have stumbled upon an interesting discussion, one which asks a writers’ community the question: when can a writer consider himself/herself a success. This question has produced quite a bit of steam. It has pitted one opinion against another, diametrically opposed to one another, and has turned into a classical power struggle between the two sides, each claiming to be right.

One writer claims his sales of 500,000 books has given him the right to consider himself successful while another wrote, “I consider myself successful each time someone other than a relative or a friend buys my book.”

Now, I know it is true that one must sell thousand of books to be considered by an agent, or editor, or publisher for any kind of contract for his/her work. And I also know you must sell thousands of books in order to make any money. I also understand myself well enough to know that my expectations for Becoming Alice were such that I fall in the category of the writer who feels successful with each sale of his/her book. Luckily I have had many, many days when I have felt successful.

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