Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Selling myself (short).

We have a new bookstore in Nashville that just opened a few weeks ago. "A new bookstore," you ask. "But I thought bookstores were going out of business faster than you could say Kindle!" It's true. Sadly, bookstores seem to be going the way of the dinosaurs and mom and pop hardware stores. But, fortunately for us Nashvillians, bestselling author Ann Patchett calls middle Tennessee home and is not interested in living somewhere that doesn't have a bookstore. So she took a leap and opened Parnassus Books.

As a reader and a book lover, I am over-the-moon thrilled.

As a self-published author who gets nervous at so much as the thought of selling myself, I'm...not so much.

A new bookstore means a new location that could potentially sell my book. While this may sound like a good thing - Oh, the possibilities! - to me, it also kind of sounds like a nightmare. It means I might have to, you know, talk to someone. About buying my books. And putting them in their store! And that's, well, that's just above and beyond what I feel capable of.

My approach to sales could best be described as "un-selling." Meaning, before I have even asked you if you want to buy something from me I have come up with at least a dozen reasons why you should say no. Maybe your budget is a little tight this month. Or whatever I'm selling won't exactly suit your needs. Perhaps you feel bad for me and are planning to say yes out of guilt. No way I can get behind that!

I honed this approach as a young Girl Scout. Yes, that's right, I figured out a way to un-sell Girl Scout cookies. Like there's a single good reason not to buy cookies from a child. A child in a uniform no less! But I did it. And I un-sold the hell out of some Thin Mints.

My husband thinks I'm ridiculous (not in general, just when it comes to my inability to deliver a sales pitch). But it's totally not fair because he's IN SALES. Talking to people about buying things is what he does EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even when he's not at work! Because when you're good at something like that, it's not just what you do, it's WHO YOU ARE.

I think writing is like that too. I am good at writing because I'm BAD at everything else. Okay, not everything else. But the face-to-face, small talky type stuff - oh, lordy. I am awkward with an extra side of awkward sauce. And if I think I'm bad at regular ol' chit chat, imagine how freaked out I get when the conversation turns toward me and something I want you to buy.

{I should maybe point out that people I know (besides my husband) are surprised when I tell them I feel this way. Evidently my awkward un-selling is not discernible to the naked eye. Which seems completely insane because to me it feels like every time I speak out loud a record scratches and everyone in the room turns to stare at the awkward girl with her foot in her mouth. Maybe not, but that doesn't make it any more fun for me.}

So last week after I took the boys to the bookstore for the first time, I couldn't wait to tell Bill what I had done.

"Guess what," I said as soon as we sat down for dinner. "We went to Parnassus and I talked to someone about my book!"

"Who?"

"Uh, I dunno. Whoever was working the register. Anyway, I was like, Yeah, I've got this children's book I wrote and illustrated and I was wondering who I could talk to about getting it into inventory."

"And?"

"Isn't that great?!" I said beaming. "I almost chickened out. Like, I really, really didn't want to do it but I did. I wanted Liam to see that it's good to do things you're scared of sometimes." I looked over at him and winked. I was setting such a good example!

"So who do you need to talk to?"

"Oh, well I don't remember her name. But they're not taking on any new inventory until the first of the year."

"You don't remember her name?"

"What's the big deal? I'll just ask again in January."

"Your book is for Christmas. January is too late."

"Yeah but, that's what the lady at the register said. THEY'RE NOT ADDING ANY MORE INVENTORY UNTIL THE FIRST OF THE YEAR!"

"But that won't work. You need to call them and explain that. Your book is for Christmas, you need to get it into the store now."

"But...I can't. Aren't you at least proud of me for asking?"

"No," he said laughing a little. "I hate to say it but this was a fail. Big time. I mean, you didn't even get a name."

Ouch, right? But he has no idea he's being mean. To him, this kind of thing is a game. He actually thinks it's fun! He's like, "Ooh, now's the good part. You get to push and push and push until they can't say no and you win. Aren't you excited?!" I'm like, "Are you crazy?! I can't even talk about this without wanting to crawl back in bed and watch TV."

Self publishing is so not for me.

I need to find myself a publisher or an agent or someone like Bill who wants to do this icky stuff for me. (He won't do it because he says that would be "weird" like he was "controlling" me or something. WTF?) I think that will be my BIG goal for 2012.

In the meantime, I'm going to do it my way. I have some books on hand I can sign and sell for $10 each (via word of mouth, Facebook and this very blog!). My book is available on Amazon.com and can be found at Fairytales Bookstore in Nashville and The Tennessee State Museum Gift Store (I'm working there on Sundays so if you want me to sign it, just ask the guy in the store to grab me!).

I also have one very special copy that will be given away to one very special reader. Are you feeling special? Leave me a comment and I'll put your name in a hat for a drawing on Sunday!

It really is a sweet book. One that my boys and I look forward to reading together at least once a day every single day of December. The illustrations are handmade cut paper art and the story rhymes which makes it really fun to read out loud. If you don't believe me (un-sell alert!), check out the customer reviews on Amazon. I just did and they totally made me cry! (THANK YOU!!!)

If you'd like to buy a copy, please email me (nomommybrain @ gmail.com) and I'll get it shipped out to you right away. If you want to see even more, you can check out the little website I threw together (www.maggiedayconran.com). And please, tell your friends!

3 comments:

Katie said...

Hey Maggie! I love reading your blog! I am Erin Kice's sister Sarah's best friend from high school (that's a mouthfull!) Anyway, your blog is one of my absolute favorites!
I also have a 5-year-old Maggie of my own and we would LOVE to win a copy of your book!
Katie Walker

No Mommy Brain said...

Katie - so nice to "meet" you! Looks like so far you have excellent odds of winning! ; )

No Mommy Brain said...

Winner, winner!!! Katie, please email me your address and I will get a book shipped off to you and Maggie right away. I hope you love it! Thanks for reading...