Friday, 28 October 2011

Selling and Not Sellling Catherine Johnson


Dear people, I know this is stupid, seeing as I do try and earn some money from writing, but one thing I find excruciating is trying to sell my own books. I know some people can do this, and I wish it was a skill I had, but the times when I've been behind a book shop counter or stall I have found it so much easier to sell other people’s.
Look at it this way, you may not even like my book, I mean, I can't really explain what it's about, not coherently, not in one sentence or less, and anyway aren't there a gazillion better books than mine out there?
I love it when I find something that I think is fabulous and will rant on and on about it, Nicky Browne's Wolf Blood? Brilliant,.... Sarra Manning's Let's Get Lost? Heartbreaking... The Dunderheads by Paul Fleischman and David Roberts? Sheer genius... and I haven’t even mentioned The Sterkarms or anyone of the many other books I hold close to my heart. You would be here all day.
My own stuff? Well, it's all right I suppose, some of it....if you like that sort of thing...
Talk like that though, If you are not careful, can end up close to the other end of the spectrum which is - in my mind anyway - quite sick making. The 'little me' fishing for compliments thing. As our young people say today: ew!
So how does one sell a book, how do you say to someone who isn't related to you, that you think they might like, or might know someone who might like your book? Shouldn't you hone that this is my book in one sentence thing? So that when you do go into schools and stuff you can be confident about it? I suppose so....
And for some of my books it really does come easy, for example, NEST OF VIPERS is that TV programme, Hustle, set in the 18th century, with teenagers.
But this new one has been hard.
Try this; BRAVE NEW GIRL by Catherine Johnson, a novel about Seren, her best mate Keith, and her complicated family, she tries to make things right and only ends up making everything a whole lot worse! That just sounds like so many books.
No, please, I hear you say, what is it about, really?
How about; Friends, films, falling out and family. There.
Now, lets hear yours for your books....

11 comments:

Miriam Halahmy said...

I do think its difficult and not sure how to pitch it to a new group of kids gathered in a library, who have never heard of me before. And my book deals with really controversial stuff anyway. That's why I like social media. I can say something about the book and then people can look on my website, etc and make their own minds up. Great post Catherine.

JO said...

Oh how I identify with this. How can I possibly stand up and shout about my book when there are so many others clamouring for attention? One reader may love it, others just not 'get it.'

I think my book is wonderful - and no, I'm not going to plug it here, as it's not for children or teenagers. But thanks for posting this - it's good to know I'm not the only one who hates the selling.

Karen said...

Totally emphasise with this, Catherine, I'm hopeless at plugging my books. When I do school visits I don't even take books to sell, unless I'm asked to. I don't think it's strange that we're like this, we're authors, after all, not salesmen (or women).

Carole Anne Carr said...

Old age, I suppose, you reach a stage where it is too late to worry. At first I was hesitant for I edit the books myself and I knew I'd missed a couple of typing errors. But now that I'm 99.9% sure I haven't, and confident that the books are ok - so many lovely reviews from child readers - I'm never ashamed to enthuse about my work. :0)

Linda Strachan said...

I wonder if it is about trying to bring back the excitement you felt for the original idea.
Trying to leave yourself behind and get away from the feeling that it is boasting to talk about your own books.

It should be just the same as extolling the virtues of any great book you have read and enjoyed, but it is so much more personal that it is just NOT the same, is it!

I don't have too much trouble talking up my books, I can easily get excited about them and probably forget to stop!
But it is often more of a problem trying to decide which books they would be interested in, (unless it is a school class or specific audience).
Would it be the books for little ones, or perhaps they have teenagers who would be interested in those, or do they write? Possibly my Writing for Children writing handbook? Shouldn't really be a problem having lots of different ages that I write for, but it can muddy the waters, sometimes!

H.M. Castor said...

Gah, Catherine, I'm with you all the way on this one. Doing signings & events is new to me - I've plunged in this month, in fact - and I'm aware, when accosting people (nicely I hope!) and trying just to give them a bookmark (because I've been told by other authors that one mustn't just sit there...) that I need the skill-set of an Apprentice contestant... Instead I just feel toe-curlingly embarrassed. I can talk enthusiastically if people ask me specific questions, but as for selling, or even reading from my own book... I know - why don't we band together in pairs and sell each other's?? :)

madwippitt said...

I suppose 'Please buy this, as my wippitts would like a new squeaky ball' won't persuade many, but then I'm REALLY pants at doing those summing-up description thingys that publishers always ask you to write (although as they then totally ignore it, I might just as well go with the ball-buying plea ...)

JO said...

Isn't it comforting that so many of are feel we are pants at this!

Nicky said...

Having trouble posting - third time lucky!
Maybe we should do promotion pairings and talk up each others work as you have kindly done for me !

hilary said...

Excruciating is the exact right word! In fact, I can't do it. I'd truly rather sweep streets, although I'm perfectly happy to sing the praises of other people's books- in fact, nothing I like better than forcing books into readers' hands (as long as they are not my books). Actually, I'm not even comfortable giving them away. Thanks for this post, it is so nice to hear that other people feel the same way.

Penny Dolan said...

Part of the trouble is that you can always remember the less good moments of how you felt when you were writing the thing - and its rather hard to dismiss those feelings and turn into the complete enthusiast about the book when its more a case of "as good as you could get it to be".