We’ve all had times when we’ve wanted to slam the door in the sales person’s face, especially if our memory stretches back to those ‘good old days’ when traveling salesmen knocked on many a door and we were torn between being polite and ending the sales pitch. We may even have been a little curious even though we knew we weren’t buying.
For let’s face it. Those people had interesting and even exciting wares to offer us. And if we didn’t allow the sales pitch to continue we might miss out.
Writers have a quandary. We want to tell people about our work but we abhor selling. One of the things we can do is get others to present our work and there are many ways to do this.
A week ago I went on the Internet, found the editor of the local paper, sent him an email with informative attachments asking if one of his reporters would like to interview me. By Friday, an efficient reporter sat opposite me in my living room and asked pertinent questions. She did a good job of keeping me on track and of searching my words for what we would call good sound bites if video were involved. Afterwards I gave some thought to how the article would shape up and just what I should have, could have said. You know how that goes.
I needn’t have worried. The article was fair and honest and, aside from its announcing to the world how old I am, pleased me. Heather Rivers portrayed me and my journey in her own words without misshaping my personal or writing story. You can see for yourself here. Second Career in Historical Fiction for Former Teacher Elaine Cougler.
As for titillating, when I’m giving my ‘elevator pitch’ about The Loyalist’s Wife, I always mention John leaving Lucy behind in the wilds of New York state in the midst of the American Revolution, expecting her to keep up and hold on to their remote farm. This gets my prospective readers’ attention whether they be men or women. The men often look just a little shamed and the women vary from excited to annoyed with John. I then go on to explain that I wanted to show what happens to the ordinary people like us when those in power make decisions such as going to war.
In very few words I’ve given my prospective readers something that interests them and often it is enough to sell the book. You see, I’ve struck a nerve and even though the historical fiction audience is primarily women, many men buy a book when I explain the novel’s dual point of view–John’s and Lucy’s. My neighbor came running after me on my early morning walk to tell me how much he enjoyed the book even though he freely admitted he had bought it mainly to support me, his friend.
So, readers, look for something that starts your engine running when you choose a book. Something that titillates. And writers, give it to them!