Querying: what kind of a salesman are you?

I remember when we were shopping around for new couches. The saleslady didn’t seem to know a lot about the couch set we were looking at and did a lot of head scratching. Since she had so little information or knowledge about the couches, we were at an impasse. When hubby accidentally discovered that the center back folded down into a console with drink holders, heaters for either ends of the couch and back vibrators, we nearly jumped out of our collective skins.


The  saleslady was surprised and said, “Oh wow, I didn’t know those couches did that.”

Clunk. Say, dearie, do you work on commission? If so, I gotta wonder at the size of your paychecks.

So she made a sale quite by accident. She had nothing to do with it because the merits of the couch spoke for itself. Lucky her.

But what about your stories? Hopefully, your book speaks for itself and sells on its merits. But in this day and age of modern nonfiction (and some fiction), including your platform or  promotional ideas is an intelligent way to speed yourself right up to the head of the class. So the last thing any agent or editor wants to see is, “I’m always open to suggestions for further marketing/promotional ideas.”

That’s nice, but we assume any author with a firing synapse would be open to ideas. To actually state this makes me think that you know there are more promo ideas out there you could think of, but for whatever reason you haven’t. And I have to say that whenever I see this statement, it often comes at the end of a so-so promo/marketing plan. So I already know you’re basically saying, “sorry there isn’t more!”

Just like the couch saleslady, we assume you are the professional trying to close the deal. This means you have to show me how the center console folds down and has drink holders and buttons for heat and back vibration (which is damned fabulous, I might add) because I might not discover it on my own.

Empathy is a great way to enhance your sales pitch because it forces you to think ahead. You know what questions are running through our melons and can head us off at the pass:

  • Is the story strong and marketable?
  • Can I sell the story and the author?
  • Is there a large audience for this book?
  • What is the author’s promo plan?
  • How many people does she know?
  • How many people know her?
  • Is she immersed in the community who might read her book?

This kind of sales job is much more effective than telling me you’re open to suggestions. We always have suggestions. And so do our marketing and sales folks. What we need to know is that you’ve taken the steps to sell yourself.

Now, I really must get back to my couch. Beagle…fire up the blender!

2 Responses to Querying: what kind of a salesman are you?

  1. Madison Woods says:

    Great post. You raised an angle I’d not thought of before but will definitely use when I get to querying!

  2. Maggie Dana says:

    Just so you know, my couch comes with a built-in blender AND a beagle.

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