The Art of Selling

I discovered today that I totally suck at selling. Perhaps I have always known it but never really admitted it to myself or to the general world… But yes, I suck at it. An I hate it, with a fiery burning passion at that!

I hate unprofessional haggling. I recall a visit to the markets in Bangkok where my mother proceeded to haggle with the vendor on the price of a Tee-shirt. It was a valuable cringe moment in my life. Never mind that I hate the hassle over price but the garment was a steal in the first place. My thoughts were on the poor guy trying to make a living. Needless to say I never haggle. The price I see is the price I pay, and if the vendor upped his tag price knowing I would haggle, well then he just made a fair profit for himself. And I am still happy.

I guess my thoughts go further than the ticket price of an item. I think about the work that’s gone into the production of the item, its creation, the cost of that creation, packaging, transportation, distribution, sales… All these things factor into the price of any item we purchase. Which is why I hate haggling.

To me there is a distinct difference between professional business dealings and price haggling of the lay-person. A business auction or tender is emotionless, professional and respectful. A face-to-face personal haggle is decidedly none of these things. Having recently been on the receiving end of a price fight I noticed a few things about the haggler. They seldom meet my eyes and they feel they are entitled to a ‘better’ price. In fact they expect it and when they don’t? Well I’d better be prepared for unjustified complaints…

This led my mind to a seminar I attended where an agent spoke about how she sells her authors books. Her strategy was all sales, from convincing the right agent she had the next bestseller on hand, to effecting a multi-book deal and closing at a very satisfying figure.

Hearing the advice that writers must, or at least should try to, sell themselves even before they can hope to land and agent, networking, blogging. ‘But I want to just write my damned book.’ I hear you lament. Yeah mate! So do I. But its the way of the writers world these days. And though I may hate haggling with my clients in my Day Job #2, its easy enough to chuck the job out the window and say ‘No more dammit! I am worth more than this!’ It’s looking more likely that I will choose that chucking option sooner rather than later.

Which brings me back to the most important question – if I hate haggling and sales, can I really cut it in the big, bad writing world? I think so. Writing is my art. It is what it is. Hard work, imagination, vision, perserverence, disappointment, joy. I could go on… I have created my product and now I have to sell it in my pitch or my query. After that its my agents job, right? Maybe not. Selling is just the next step.

How do you feel about selling your work? Would you be happy to haggle or do you feel the writing world, though tough, is much more civilised in terms of price agreement?


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