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Thursday, July 07, 2011

My Experience in Sales

One summer, between my junior and senior year of college, I landed a job as an aide in a summer school program. It was a great experience since I intended to become a teacher. However, it paid next to nothing and I needed more money for college. To supplement my puny salary, I decided to sell cosmetics. My success in selling cosmetics depended almost entirely on the vanity of women. Fortunately, many women long to be beautiful and anything that will help them toward that goal is something they desire to own. (Especially if it is not too expensive.)

In fact there were only two real problems selling a line of beauty aids for me. One was my fear of getting bit by a dog. I went door-to-door initially to gather a customer base, but I skirted around any house with a snarling dog.

My other downfall was that I tended to use up my profits by buying many of the cosmetics for myself. Yes, I longed to be gorgeous and alluring just like everyone else. I believed all the hype--and, of course, I looked in the mirror and found myself lacking--even though I was twenty, thin, and did not have a single wrinkle in my face. Still, my lips seemed too thin. I had freckles. I wanted glowing cheeks and come-hither eyes. I put on way too much makeup.

Nevertheless, I had fun. I got to chat with people, something I've always enjoyed because in the process I collect gossip and characters--an extremely useful habit to develop for a writer.

My customers never complained about the products I sold. I'd douse myself with the newest fragrance, they would get a good whiff when I walked in the door and then they would order some for themselves.

It was a great business.

Selling books is far more difficult than selling cosmetics. Some people don't read and those who do read, don't read romances. Most people refer to my habit of touting my wares as shameless self-promotion. In addition to that, there's always criticism in the form of reviews.

Despite that, some of the techniques I learned in selling cosmetics actually do work in selling books.

Here are the salient points:

1. Stay away from snarling dogs.

2. Dress up and smell good.

3. Smile.

4. Enjoy the conversation, wherever it goes. (You might get an inspiration for another character.)

5. Always believe in your product. (I have had to explain over and over what a romance novel is. Some people really do not understand the genre at all.)

6. Help the customer find what they want. If they don't want to read any of your books, point them to another author who writes in the genre they claim to enjoy.

7. Keep writing!

1 comment:

MarkD60 said...

When I was a kid I delivered newspapers. I got about $30 a month, top dollar back then!