Selling Is Not A Dirty Word

Friday, December 08, 2023

Jodi Webb
“The self-promo is hard for me. I know it’s necessary to raise visibility for my coaching and workshop offers, but memoir and personal storytelling are so…well, personal, that 'selling' just feels icky.”

Annette Fix, a fellow writer who is also a memoir writing coach, recently wrote that when someone pointed out that her social media posts should always include her business information. Writers are not salespeople. So sometimes (a lot of times) sales feels…icky. But the truth is that everywhere we turn, someone is selling something. Selling is not a dirty word. So how can we be comfortable as writers who are also salespeople?

As writers, we’re all familiar with how point-of-view can change everything. A murder mystery written from the victim’s POV is very different from one from the murderer’s POV or the detective’s POV. 
If you’re uncomfortable with self-promotion, stop and ask yourself about the POV. Do you see it as you trying to get something (usually money) from people? Stop right there. You are not a con artist tricking a person out of their money with snake oil. Look at your exchange from the nonwriter’s POV.  What are they receiving in this exchange? 
Our most common exchange as writers is a book sale. We get money. The reader gets a book. It’s easy to see things from the nonwriter’s POV. Self-promotion is easy when the exchange feels concrete. But don’t overlook the value of the others things you have to offer. 
Value Beyond Books 
Many us of start to falter when we’re selling something more abstract…our knowledge as a writing coach or our presence as a speaker. For some, it feels like we’re asking for money but giving nothing “real.” We mistakenly believe that it’s an uneven trade, that we’re receiving much more than we’re giving.  
Take a moment to appreciate what you’re bringing to the table. Look at the exchange from the nonwriter’s POV. You’re offering them something they may not have found anywhere else. Your engaging personality bringing people to their event. Your knowledge helping them achieve their long-held dream of writing a memoir. Not everything valuable fits in an Amazon delivery truck. Don’t underestimate the value of what you are delivering.  
Writing vs. Writing Well 
Sometimes, it’s difficult to get over the fact that everyone can write. Yes, we all learned to write in elementary school, starting with those one-paragraph book reports hung neatly on the bulletin board. But there is a difference between writing and writing well. Don’t dismiss your skill. Compare the handful of flowers you picked from your garden and plunked in a water glass to the breathtaking arrangement your florist delivers. Technically, you both arranged flowers. Realistically, the results were worlds apart. Why? Skill. 
For writers, writing can be many things. Challenging. Fun. Rewarding. For non-writers, it can be very different. Torturous. Overwhelming. Mind numbing. (OK, it can be those things for writers too, but we eventually get to the positive parts.)  Recognize that what is innate to you can be insurmountable to another person. You can help them tackle that mountain. Even if writing well seems simple to you, it is a skill that not everyone possesses. 
Repeat after me. I am a writer. I am also a salesperson. My skills are valuable.  
Happy promoting!
Jodi M. Webb was published in dozens of magazines and anthologies you won’t recognize. She even spent several years as a WOW Blog Tour Manager and has the sweatshirt to prove it! For the last 12 years, she’s written ad copy, advertorials and organized contests for her local newspaper. Stay tuned for what comes next!


Yvonne Osborne said...

This post is timely for me and just what I needed to hear. Thank you! "Selling" does feel icky (perfect word) but if I look at it this way-not selling snake oil but something concrete-it feels honest and worthy. "I am a writer. I am also a salesperson." I'll see if I can get used to telling myself that. THANK YOU!!!

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