At the fork of a road
In the Vale of Va-Vode
Five foot-weary salesmen have laid down their load.
All day they’ve raced round in the heat, at tops speeds,
Unsuccessfully trying to sell Zizzer-Zoof Seeds
Which nobody wants because nobody needs.
-Dr. Seuss ( from Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book)
Of all the things I consider myself, a salesman is not one of them. However, those of us who want to write books–or rather, those who want their books read–have to market and sell our product. What’s the best way to do that? Make sure your product doesn’t suck.
Hugh MacLeod calls it a social object. Seth Godin calls it a Purple Cow. If your book is going to sell any copies, it will be remarkable, what Godin describes as a product that people remark on.
If a man walked up to your door and said, “Hello, won’t you by this wonderful plant that you must care for and take care of?” would you buy the plant? The plant might be interesting or it might be dull, but the greater problem is that you’re interrupting somebody when they’re comfortable and at home. If you’re going to sell something, the best way to do it is get other people to interrupt people when they want to be interrupted–namely at social gatherings and with social media. Also known as…word of mouth.
But word of mouth won’t spread if 1) you don’t start the fire with your own social tools, and 2) your product sucks.
When people remark on your book, when they share it with others so that groups of people are talking about this awesome little story, then your book is suddenly needed. Someone out there gets an itch to read it, and with that person comes one or three more, and so on.
People aren’t talking about Zizzer-Zoof Seeds. Nobody wants to be sold Zizzer-Zoof Seeds. So sell something remarkable. And make sure your not selling, but socializing.
“Business is socializing with purpose.”