Monday, February 25, 2013

The Process of Selling

Something I have to compel myself to do daily now is talk about my book, Pete's Garage.  And because I want to keep it real, and not turn into some hideous salesperson, I find myself struggling with the various aspects of talking about how I feel trying to hawk the book.

Several years ago, just prior to the height of the recession, I helped a debt consolidation specialist put together a technical manual that described what he did.  Basically, for those of you who do not know how debt consolidation works, I'll give a brief rundown.

You get into debt.  I mean, serious debt.  To the tune of several hundred thousand dollars.  You owe on everything, but the value of your property will cover the debt.  Usually, just.  At the end of your tether, you throw yourself on a debt consolidator.  He puts together a sum of money through a bank and with that money you pay off your cars, your credit cards, your mortgage, etc ... and then you owe just one payment to the bank.

Now, my client - we'll call him Doug, since being underground was about right for him - is relying on a simple reality.  If you were bad at paying your debts before, you're still bad at it now.  And in a few months, you're going to default on your debt consolidation payment and together with the bank, Doug will take everything you own.

Doing this, Doug gets very rich.

I spent a lot of time with Doug while we worked together.  He was a marvelous speaker, but his writing was for shit and he needed someone who could help with laying out pages.  He paid me a couple of thousand dollars for this, which he basically pulled out of his wallet and gave me in cash.  Doug was not strapped for cash.

What's particular about Doug was that he had ceased to be human.  Doug was a stuffed shirt full of salesman patter, and he could not turn it off - even when he was talking about mundane things like where he parked his car or how the scone with his coffee tasted.  There is a particular tone that sales people adopt, and eventually it just becomes who they are.  It's a disturbingly phony tone.  I've never understood how it works to sell people, but it does.  It has something to do with its cheery, confident, encouraging, non-judgmental manner.  And while I spent all this time with Doug, examining it and re-examining it as he talked about how he'd bought some $300,000 car that was waiting in Vegas for him, and how he and his friend were going to drive down and get it, and spend a week there in the meantime (just one of the many stories I heard), I began to understand how it convinces people to let Doug get his hooks into them.

He sounds harmless.  He sounds just a bit too stupid to be dangerous.  The phoniness actually convinces them that Doug can't really be a viper, he's just too obviously trying to sell them.

I never want to be like this.  I want you to buy my book.  I want you to consider all the tens of thousands of words on this blog, and consider how they demonstrate beyond a shadow that I can write, and that if I turn my mind to a fiction novel, it is going to be a good one.  I know that the world works in a way that I have to say to you, the reader, buy this thing.  It is worth your while.  It is cost of four coffees and the scones they come from.  I love this book.  I wasn't sure for awhile, but I did fall in love with it along the way.

From time to time I will want to reassure you.  This blog and this book are not two different things.  They are the same thing.  They are both me, the person speaking to you now.  And if you are the sort that can't get enough of what I've written today, there's 80,000 more words waiting for you.

2 comments:

JB said...


It sounds like "Doug" (or a similar character) would be an excellent subject for another novel.

Just sayin'...
; )

Lukas said...

Doug is in a story. The one you just read. The one with a tactically placed moral.