Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Selling Game

Have you successfully publicized anything? I have a theory that some people are just born with the publicity gene. All they have to do is mention an event and suddenly the tickets are sold out. They rave about a book and Amazon goes out of stock. I've had friends who, and I can't believe this is a job, make all their money by convincing people to go out to one particular club. Even the thought of this makes me shrivel up in terror.

I'm shy. I don't like asking people for things. Even when I work my absolute hardest, sometimes I still fail at the publicity game. My awkwardness and reticence tend to trip me up. I'd rather put all my work into making a killer product than trying to convince people that it is a killer product. Surely the quality should speak for itself? (Yes, I know how naive that statement is).

It's unfortunate that I'm the director of a professional dance company that depends on ticket sales for a portion of our income. It's also unfortunate that one of my jobs is as a commission-based sales associate. Oh, and the fact that as a dance teacher I have to actively promote my classes in order to convince people to sign up. Plus, there's that little matter of trying to sell a novel.

The hard truth is, if you want to work in a creative field, self-promotion becomes a necessity.

The good news is with time and practice you can get better at it. I'm still not a pro. I'm not magnetic, confident, and convincing. But, there are signs, little things, that indicate I might be getting better. (Wishful thinking?)

What about you? Do these things come naturally to you, or do you have to work at them? Do you have any promotional success stories to share? Or, perhaps, tips?

Reader's log:
20. Across the Universe - Beth Revis


  1. I'm not great at promoting myself but I'm trying to get better at it too. I just started reading So Yesterday by Scott Wersterfeld and it is making me thing about this kind of thing.

  2. I loved So Yesterday! Anything about how trends are created and promoted is absolutely fascinating. Have you read Bellweather by Connie Willis? Another great book on the topic.

  3. This is one of the reasons I decided not to go solo in the architecture world! I love project management, problem solving and good design, but not marketing or finance (both obviously essential to running a successful business!)

    I do like working in a small company environment and I love working with clients, but only as long as there is someone else on the team to bring them in :)

    Partly, this is because I don't believe that what I'm selling is good for everyone. Partly, it's because I don't pretend to be experienced or able where I'm not - and a marketing architect has to promise the world sometimes. And it's partly because I just don't like to gamble.

  4. I have to admit, I'm jealous you have that option available to you. :/

  5. It is not natural to me, but occasionally it pops up and I'm like, "whoa, where did that come from?"
    Then I go back to being my non-publicity self.

  6. I am horrible at this stuff! I usually just end up feeling like I am repeating myself over and over and not being able to remember exactly what I said. Gah!

  7. people sell things they love, without trying. In your case, I think it is a matter of letting your personal enthusiasm and passion, go public. You don't have to fake caring about your "product", nor do you have to pretend that "everyone" should buy it. When people get a glimpse of your joy, they generally will want to get a piece of it. It is contagious!

  8. I'm terrible at it. I'm shy, too. Part of me just hates having to chat about something so often and the other part of me hates making people feel like they need to support me. In short, I'm crazy awkward!

  9. Lydia - Isn't that funny how every now and then a skill will pop up and then disappear?

    Carrie - I know! I do the same thing. Either that, or I go overly perky and put on a fake performance, making everyone uncomfortable.

    PB - As you read above, I'm a sales associate. I actually do alright in sales, because I like the product I'm selling. It's so much easier to sell something that you believe in. It's less like selling and more like sharing. So, I think you're right to some extent.

    Tracey - Yeah, it's the feeling that you're asking people for a favor. I hate asking people for things!!!

  10. Maybe you aren't asking for a favor but you are doing a favor for them... giving them something very special that will in the end help them... Since I have read your novel that is how I think of it!!

  11. I totally understand where you're coming from; I'm terrible at promoting anything, from my blog to my stories to, well, myself. :) I guess it's partly to do with my personality - I can't bear the thought of people finding out what I'm trying to sell isn't actually that great. Which is probably why my career in retail was so short-lived. XD But I try to pick up tips from people I know who are amazingly good at it. I'm hoping one day I'll get the hang of it. :)