I Rarely Buy What I’m Sold

David NicolIn this article I discuss the “marketing” tactics that some indie and self-published authors embark on and why they may be doing more harm than good.

I don’t like being sold to.  When I go in to a shop, I’m there because I know what I want.  If they don’t have it, I’ll find it somewhere else.  What won’t happen is this: a ‘sales assistant’ will saunter up and ask me if they can help, they then listen to what I’m after, ignore the specificity of my request and instead offer me what they have in stock, regardless of comparability.  Here’s the thing: I’m very specific.  I do my research before setting foot in a shop so I’ve already disregarded any alternatives.

Sometimes the sales assistant will offer to order in the item.  That type of sales person is getting rarer and rarer each day, and unless they can sell me the product cheaper than I can order it online myself it’s going to be a No Sale.  I’ve worked in sales myself, or retail as it was called many moons ago.  I didn’t enjoy it, but it was a job and my sales/commission were good because I employed a mysterious and occult talent that many of the other sales people lacked:  I listened to the customer.  I never told a customer what THEY wanted.  They know what they want and building rapport and trust with them wasn’t going to happen if I railroaded them in to buying the item that I made the most commission on, especially if it wasn’t what they were actually looking for.

Building trust enabled me to provide my customers with what they actually wanted, and when I recommended other items to compliment their purchase they would have more confidence in my suggestion.  It also meant that I had more repeat business (although at the time I didn’t realise any of this!).

So let’s fast forward to now, and social media, and online marketing, and self promotion….

I read with interest this article by Kristen Lamb entitled ‘How Can We Brag Without it KILLING Our On-Line Credibility?‘ which discussed the issue of Obnoxious Ollies and Super Secret Susans.  Obnoxious Ollie being the continual self plugger, while Super Secret Susan told no-one what she did and the importance of finding a balance between the two.

The reason for my interest is that recently I got fed up with the Obnoxious Ollies (and Olliettas) whose incessant self promotion was swamping my twitter feed.  I have already started pruning my twitter following list and already I’ve noticed a difference.   I can now see posts from people who have something to say, not just posts saying how wonderful their book is and why I should buy it.

What does this have to do with sales?  I think what’s happening in the independent author world is that people are finding their feet in unknown areas.  The issue I believe stems from all the “how to market” type sites and books out there, and in particular one gem of (mis)information.  According to marketing “law”, it takes eight impressions before someone will take action.  It’s possible that that information is from a very credible source, but like many quotes without the original context it can easily be misconstrued.

For many they seem to think that if someone sees their blurb eight times then they will buy their book, so they keep spouting it out.  Sooner or later their message will scroll through your feed, you’ll see it eight times and be powerless but to click on that link.  Except for one glaring problem.  Is what they’re selling actually what you want?  It could be that their book turns out to be finest thing you’ve ever read, completely life changing and you find a new muse for life.  But what if it’s not.  What if it doesn’t live up to the self produced hype?

I actually find it quite offensive to be constantly sold to, the use of social media becoming a one way hosepipe.  It’s meant to be social, to allow interaction.  But as more authors turn to auto-tweeting platforms they slowly destroy the platform.  Now that I’m weeding out the one-way tweeters I’m spending more time on twitter rather than facebook and enjoying the interaction.

Having a feed full of adverts, retweets and 5* review links was not my idea of fun.


Available now:

The Deluge of Elias by David Nicol

Long after a cataclysm that destroyed humanity had been forgotten, the descendants of the original survivors live in a protected Dome governed by a set of rules known as ‘The Orders’.

The rigid enforcement of The Orders now threatens the people they were designed to protect. Elias has a solution, except it puts him on a course of action that is at odds with the rules that he has been charged to rigorously uphold. On top of every thing else, the solution came to him in the form of a dream; in a time and place where no one dreams.

Can he save the last vestiges of humanity, or even himself?

The Deluge of Elias from Amazon US

The Deluge of Elias from Amazon UK

Hannibal House by David Nicol

‘Sometimes you don’t choose the house, the house chooses you’.

The supernatural story of a house that attracts lost souls. Set in South West Wales, Hannibal House tells the story of Troy who leaves Seattle in search of his roots.

Unsure of what he’s really looking for, Troy comes across Hannibal House. Immediately infatuated with the building he sets out to possess it, or is the house aiming to possess him…

Hannibal House from Amazon US

Hannibal House from Amazon UK


Catch me on twitter: @davidxnicol
Check me out on Amazon: David Nicol Author Page
See what I’m up to on GoodReads.com: David Nicol on GoodReads

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