Selling is Believing

In a few hours I will be interviewing P. J. Campbell, author of 101 Author Tips, and we will be talking about marketing. I used to loath the idea of marketing, especially as it pertained to what I had written. Selling oneself seemed like such a craven act, always carrying the vague reek of obsequious desperation. At best it, you might come across as an untrustworthy huckster, at worst, a glorified beggar.

Yet I heard once that everyone in America is selling something. This seemed cynical at first, but I’m not so sure anymore. There is always that moment, whether at the kitchen table with your husband, or across the pitching table from an agent, where you must reveal to another human being an idea you think worth considering. And it doesn’t matter if you’re explaining your vision for new living room curtains or a new series of Young Adult mysteries, the job is ultimately the same: Here is an idea that I think is worthwhile; here is why it think it is worthwhile; here is why I think you could benefit from it.

Such is the business of living on planet earth. For me, however, the key to marketing is believing in what you are selling. You always start from there. If you’ve written a book, you must believe it is worthy of publication, worthy of being read – and if you don’t, it probably needs more work. Don’t wait for agents or editors or other writers to tell you so—you believe in it. Hucksters are only dishonest if they are selling junk disguised as jewels; beggars are only beggars if they offer nothing in exchange for what they are asking.

I understand, however, that believing in the idea hatched in the privacy of your imagination can be tricky sometimes. What if my husband doesn’t want the curtains? What if the agent hates my mystery series? The answer, of course, is so what? But this is critical. You will only fear marketing if you believe everyone must want what you are selling. By allowing others the room to make up their own mind, uncluttered by your need for them to want it, you stand the best chance of what you have to offer being received.

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