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jimhines has a post here about self-publishing, 'Part Whatever', and I've quoted the first of his five points because I wanted to expand on it here.

1. Dear self-published authors: As a writer, I am not your target audience.  I can’t count the number of times authors, mostly (but not always) self-published or PoD, have tried to hard-sell their books to me.  Just don’t.

This is very true. I know it's hard to attempt to sell self-published fiction. I see more and more self-published authors manning tables in dealer's rooms at even small conventions (and also larger ones), and I am one of the people who assiduously avoid those areas of the dealer's room.

Why? Because I can't browse the way I would normally otherwise browse in a bookstore or similar venue (i.e. Larry & Sally's in the dealer's room). I can't pick up a book and put it back down if it doesn't strike or keep my interest; I can't read a page or two to get a feel for its contents.

If I attempt to do either of these things, I am immediately assaulted by the author assuring me that I will love this book, or that I must buy this book, etc., etc., and I am paralyzed with both revulsion and guilt.

Guilt because I don't want to insult your hard work and the labor of love that is obviously sitting on the table in front of you. I also write, and I do know that the casual cruelty of strangers is often painful. Because I can sometimes be sensitive (although it's best not to rely on it, especially if I am over-focused, when I have been known to walk into moving cars because I was thinking too intently on what was inside my mind), I feel that I am causing you this pain if I choose not to purchase your (usually expensive) paperback.

Revulsion because I have always loathed hard-sell; it's why I hate shopping for shoes. I want to be able to look around to see if things catch my attention; I want your help only if I ask for it. I'm capable of deciding for myself what suits my taste; this certainty doesn't materially change because you are pushing pushing pushing.

You will note that i have said nothing whatever about the quality of your work. This is because the quality of your work is entirely irrelevant to these two points.

Comments

( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
la_marquise_de_
Sep. 7th, 2010 09:52 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is so true!
kiviuq
Sep. 7th, 2010 09:56 pm (UTC)
Ditto ditto DITTO.
marthawells
Sep. 7th, 2010 09:58 pm (UTC)
Yep, exactly. It makes trying to shop in the dealer's room a very uncomfortable experience, sometimes.
damedini
Sep. 7th, 2010 10:04 pm (UTC)
Shoe salespeople push you? They mostly leave me alone til I seek them out... Hmm.

I get what you're saying.
mtlawson
Sep. 7th, 2010 10:41 pm (UTC)
Well said, Michelle.

I also dislike the "buy a magazine subscription" promotion that is used as a fundraiser for schools. (I don't know if that's found in Canada, but it's very common here in the States.) If I want to buy a subscription, I'll buy one. I don't like being made to feel guilty when one of my kids asks me to buy something for their school. I'm more than happy to donate time and other things --hell, I'll even write a check as a donation-- but I don't like having things pushed on me for a supposedly noble reason.
icedrake
Sep. 8th, 2010 12:06 am (UTC)
How about chocolates? We always sold chocolates for music dept. fundraisers...
mother2012
Sep. 8th, 2010 12:31 am (UTC)
Worse.
mtlawson
Sep. 8th, 2010 12:39 am (UTC)
We have an easy and truthful answer: we have a peanut allergy in the house.
msagara
Sep. 8th, 2010 01:36 am (UTC)
How about chocolates? We always sold chocolates for music dept. fundraisers...

Those almost cross over into scam territory for me, because the people who make the chocolates, which aren't ever very good, make a lot more money than the kids who are selling them to people who feel obligated to buy; they're making good money on these charity chocolates; it's not an act of any kindness whatsoever on their part.

Although it's true I don't know how much money the kids make from the magazine subs for their school, either.
(Anonymous)
Sep. 8th, 2010 09:39 pm (UTC)
We sold poinsettias in the fall and daffodils/tulips/hyacinths in the spring (all potted, not cut flowers). This was for the band/music department. People always seemed really pleased with them. It's still my favorite fundraiser that I've seen. The best part was they had to pay up front and then when you delivered and they asked "what do I owe you?" and you said "nothing, already paid", people would just always look so happy. We worked through a local nursery and got quite a good cut.
silvergryphyn
Sep. 8th, 2010 09:39 pm (UTC)
Oops! The anonymous was me. Forgot to log in before commenting.
serge_lj
Sep. 7th, 2010 10:47 pm (UTC)
Nobody ever bothers me when I buy shoes, but I did run into a self-published author in the local con's dealer room recently. He wasn't too pushy, but I still didn't care for the experience - for the same reasons and I'm not even a writer. (OK, I'm married to one.)
tobemeagain
Sep. 7th, 2010 11:38 pm (UTC)
Guilt and revulsion, very apt descriptions indeed.

At the chain I worked for, many self-published authors never got the idea that we could not sell their books; not on commission, not buy them outright for resale - none of it. Even after talking to the home office several still didn't see why I couldn't sell them on the sly. I had one guy tell me he was calling the Better Business Bureau on me and that he would tell all the local writing groups that my store wasn't local author friendly. Which was outrageous as I worked many of the local writing group bookfairs and they got 20% of the proceeds.
msagara
Sep. 9th, 2010 04:41 am (UTC)
At the chain I worked for, many self-published authors never got the idea that we could not sell their books; not on commission, not buy them outright for resale - none of it. Even after talking to the home office several still didn't see why I couldn't sell them on the sly. I had one guy tell me he was calling the Better Business Bureau on me and that he would tell all the local writing groups that my store wasn't local author friendly. Which was outrageous as I worked many of the local writing group bookfairs and they got 20% of the proceeds.

I think many people don't really understand the concept of Head Office, which is almost beside the point. I think people work themselves up in a state of desperation in which they justify some pretty boundary-crossing behaviour as an acceptable action when it is done for their labour of love.

I've worked at both a chain and an independent, and it can be frustrating. Although I think we've only had to deal with one furious, frustrated self-published writer. You have my sympathies!
icedrake
Sep. 8th, 2010 12:04 am (UTC)
I find this to be true of the publishers/editors of small magazines, as well.
mtlawson
Sep. 8th, 2010 12:40 am (UTC)
Oh, and I wanted to say that I like the design changes to your LJ.
msagara
Sep. 8th, 2010 01:37 am (UTC)
Thank you :).

The icon is the same, but recoloured by the friend who did the original black-and-white when we were in University--she's a children's book illustrator & writer, by the name of Ruth Ohi.

And, umm. Since she'd sent me this recoloured icon, I had to actually use it because it is shiny :D
jimhines
Sep. 8th, 2010 01:51 am (UTC)
Very shiny. I like it! (But then, I have a ridiculous fondness for all things purplish.)
mtlawson
Sep. 8th, 2010 03:15 am (UTC)
You'd have liked my high school's colors, Jim. Royal Purple and White. You probably wouldn't have been impressed by much else there, but you'd have liked the colors.
mtlawson
Sep. 8th, 2010 03:13 am (UTC)
Hey, it makes sense to me.

Who's the little Death with the Scythe?
jonquil
Sep. 22nd, 2010 12:30 am (UTC)
It's beautiful.
twiegand
Sep. 8th, 2010 02:12 am (UTC)
But trust me, I'll love your money. I'm of mixed emotions about self-publishing. I would love to be published, but if I do it for myself, I might as well sell lemonade at a buck a cup as well. I think I want the satisfaction of knowing that someone else believes in my work enough to try to sell it and make a profit on it. It seems to be a value thing on my hierarchy of needs. See you Saturday.
baka_kit
Sep. 8th, 2010 09:53 am (UTC)
This, exactly!

There are people who just won't get why I don't want to go the self-publishing route. For me the goal I'm striving for is more than just the physical object of a book with my name on it, it's the knowledge that someone else believes in it, too.
janeg
Sep. 8th, 2010 12:40 pm (UTC)
I've told filkers the same about selling their own CDs. Leave the table and schmooze; let someone more anonymous sell for you. It's just so much easier and less stressful for people to browse and consider buying. Even worse, don't have two filkers sitting at one table each selling their own CDs, so you have to hurt someone's feelings if you only want to buy one. And that someone is usually a friend, for me, but money is limited and we have to make choices.
steve_buchheit
Sep. 8th, 2010 03:14 pm (UTC)
Yea and verily.
bondo_ba
Sep. 8th, 2010 03:33 pm (UTC)
Absolutely agreed - plus, self-published authors are a... special... bunch. They have to be, because there is a huge amount of effort that goes into everything they do, and not only on the writing side. They seem to feel that aggressive promotion is a must for what they wish to achieve.
msagara
Sep. 9th, 2010 04:44 am (UTC)
They seem to feel that aggressive promotion is a must for what they wish to achieve.

I think it's because they confuse aggressive with promotion, i.e. if it's not In Your Face, it's not promotion.

The most successful publicists I met while working as manager were those who were so instantly likeable or helpful that you wanted to be helpful in return. They didn't do this by pushing or wheedling; they were often more blunt and more colourful.
bondo_ba
Sep. 9th, 2010 01:12 pm (UTC)
I agree. The best salesmen I've met are the ones that convince without pushing. But not everyone was born to be a salesman, I guess.
therinth
Sep. 9th, 2010 06:32 am (UTC)
Yes! I see a book fort at conventions, and sort of panic. And then when if i do get guilted into buying things i don't want, i resent it :P.
msagara
Sep. 9th, 2010 06:42 am (UTC)
And then when if i do get guilted into buying things i don't want, i resent it :P.

Which doesn't really help either the writer or you in the long run.

I can be guilted into doing things; I have those buttons. But there's a very strong difference between the guilt I apply to myself and the guilt other people apply to me.
jonquil
Sep. 21st, 2010 01:51 am (UTC)
Just reading this made my skin crawl. I avoid small clothing boutiques if the proprietor insists on watching me or helping me while I shop. Having the hopeful author trying to tell me how good the book is while I skim the pages and decide if it's readable -- no, and no, and never.

Re: shoes. Zappo's are God's own gift to introverts. Zappo's is *thrilled* to have you order five pairs of shoes and ship back four and they pay the shipping both ways. If you see a shoe you aren't sure about, it's just fine to buy it in two different sizes.

After a horrendous day of unsuccessful prom shopping with thousands of storeroom round-trips ("I'm sorry, we don't have that in your daughter's size, but would you like it in dead-mouse grey? Or I have this shoe in her size with a heel entirely made from zebra tongues") we did a search at Zappo's, narrowing it by my daughter's preferred color, style, size, and heel height, ordered five pairs of shoes, she picked the winner, and I shipped the rest back. Heaven.

I checked. They do ship to Canada. http://canada.zappos.com/cs_shipping.zhtml

I keep meaning to do the same for bras.
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( 32 comments — Leave a comment )