Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Selling Stuff... for Writers

I met my Rick Roberge almost a year ago when he ran a speed networking meeting for the Society of Professional Communicators. We hit it off and kept in touch since. Although writing is my passion, I know that I need to sell it if I want to devote as much time as I want to writing (full time forever…). That said, I find sales & selling an intriguing study; I always want to learn more.

In any case, I proposed to Rick that we trade guest blogs. He is much more concise than I am, so below is his post to mine… while my post to him will be spread out among 5 days starting today/Wednesday.

Rick's post is especially pertinent to short markets, non-fiction markets and copywriting, but there is plenty to learn. Please leave him comments or send him an email below!


I read your post on Wii Fit Plus [Wednesday night] with a smile on my face and thought that you were writing my guest post for me. Your writer-readers should re-read the post and realize that you are telling Wii what you want to buy and you’re telling them why. Wii currently uses Math. You’re suggesting a language, grammar and writing version of the Wii. How about a Physics Wii that gives you the left side of the equation F= and you have to hip check the right side “ma”, or PV= and the hip check goes to nrT. Or the astronomers version where you have to hip check your way through the planets in the order that they are away from the sun? The possibilities are endless!

The sales lesson in your story is actually that the customer gets to pick what they want to buy. How they want to buy it. Why they want to buy it and when they want to buy it. They have a buying process. They have a preferred language. They also get to pick who they want to buy it from. They don’t have to listen to blondes or brunettes. They don’t have to see fat people or skinny people. They may not like or respect people that are smarter than them, dumber than them, older, younger, married, single, ethnic or not.

So, your specific request was for me to “help writers sell themselves and sell their work”. Let me twist it. Writers shouldn’t try to sell themselves or their work. Rather they should learn how to identify buyers. A few simple examples. What demographic is your prospect looking to reach? Are they looking for a weekly contribution or a one-time feature article? Are they looking for a heavily researched, fact based treatise or a fantasy? These are questions that are probably already being asked and answered. But do writers ask whether or not the status quo is working? Why they want to change? Or stay the same? Does anyone ask their prospect what they’ve heard about them? Why they’re talking to them now? What they’re hoping to hear?

I talk with inventors, designers, and fabricators that all believe that they have the best solution. They can think of all kinds of benefits to their offering and they become frustrated when the perfect prospect won’t even listen to their story. Writers are no different. It’s not about how awesome the writing is. It’s not about how many readers the writer thinks (or knows) they’ll attract. It’s about whether or not the prospect recognizes that they have an issue, whether or not they feel that it’s important enough to fix and whether they realize that you have the perfect solution…..in that order.

OK. I’m over my word limit. There are two other issues that are worthy of discussion. The first is that anyone who wants to ‘sell’ consistently and predictably needs to master 21 Core Competencies. The second is that some people have difficulty looking at themselves objectively. Each of us has a sales personality. Which do you think you are? Which do you think your friends think you are? Which would I think you are?

I could go on forever. I’ll answer questions that appear in comments publicly as a comment. I’ll answer questions that I receive by email, by email and if you’d like to call, meet or you’re hungry to read more, start at RickRoberge.com.


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