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Is There A Fine Line... Selling Your Books and "Stuff"

Updated on November 16, 2011

I recently attended a writers book event and was thrilled to mix and mingle with authors from all over Iowa. I shared some things and I learned some things, just as it should be. I was privileged to meet some awesome authors and watch how each of us dealt with both sales and slow sales. As the talk progressed from the mutual hello's and how are you's to a bit more up close and personal, I listened as author asked fellow author if they had a strategy. Was there a special way to draw in sales. How did each one approach the subject of sales. Answers were both abstract and straight forward, totally different and yet, still very much alike.

During the exchange of thoughts and ideas, I was presented with a very interesting question. In fact, it may have been the most straight-forward and hardest questions I have been asked in a very long time. A little Brain stimulation can go a long way in causing one to really sit and think. My answer was as abstract as was the day and I found myself pondering the question days later still. Thank you Colleen {Journalist, Author, Film maker} for the question that has followed me around for days. It has been very good for my thinking metabolism.

The question was... "Do you ask your family to buy your books? Is it proper to go to family and friends and seek out sales?"

An interesting question that I was not able to answer completely at the time. I gave her the best answer I knew and said that I did not approach them aggressively. I compared it to a family member suddenly selling "life Insurance" and trying to sign up the entire family. I could relate to that experience as it had happened to me. No, I was not the salesman but I was one of the family members that, yes, bought a life insurance policy that was never going to be followed through. After the first month was over, having fulfilled my obligation or what I thought was my obligation, I cancelled. I didn't want nor did I need a policy at that time but still...

Is placing your books in direct contact with family the same as a salesman with his foot tucked neatly between your door and and the jam? I wonder. I look at the social sites I am on and count down the family and friends, close friends, that I have there. I calculate the numbers and sales and say WOW!!!!! Perhaps not a number 1 best seller right off, but certainly a very nice boost in the right direction. I kick back and forth the pro's and cons to being more aggressive in my sales pitches towards family. I see the distance it may bring, like that aunt that kisses you a thousand times when she sees you, so you hide when-ever she approached. I also see the better side in knowing that those that mean the most to me have my novels in their homes. I think about seeing sales increase and perhaps some of the family finding the novels to be read worthy and passing it on to others.

What is the right answer? I wanted to say all that I have said here but I didn't. A nagging sound in the back of my head says "Nothing ventured, Nothing gained." I pondered the question and still... if I say to brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws "Hey, would you like to support me in my writing venture", am I crossing a hidden line? Will Thanksgiving dinners and holiday gatherings be started off with "You aren't selling anything, are you?"

Colleen, I wish I had a better answer for you. Do I think it is taboo to approach family and friends? No, I am thinking it is not. Do I believe you must approach this with an open mind and not be offended if your sales do Not go up? Absolutely, Yes! I set my novels on my Face book page often and friends and family alike see them there. Choosing to buy or not to buy is their choice and we don't have to look down or around corners when we gather for family get together. I think it is something you yourself must feel comfortable in. "If you don't sell yourself, no one else will for you" so take it and run with it.

I think the next statement applies here as it does in so many others aspects of our lives. I have not been aggressive in the past and wonder, where might I be if I had been. The statement???? "You will always be where you have always been, if you always do what you have always done." Hmmm??? Maybe a change up is in order.


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    • Dday50627 profile image

      Darrel Day 6 years ago from Iowa

      thank you for reading this, Paradise and thank you for your comment. I agree with you and think the line is there for a reason...

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      I think I'd at least let my family members know I've written and published a book. I'd leave it up to them, to buy or not to buy, after letting them know (probably with a blanket email, or something no-pressure like that) that the book is out there and how to get it. I don't think I'd bring up the subject at a family holiday gathering unless someone asked me directly. We have a big family and don't mind supporting each other's endeavors: still, the line exists and we try not to cross it.

    • Dday50627 profile image

      Darrel Day 6 years ago from Iowa

      jfay, thank you for reading this.I ytruly Do think, the more I ponder and listen that family may in fact be an approachable source of sales for novels.

    • jfay2011 profile image

      jfay2011 6 years ago

      Very interesting. My brother and a cousin bought mine and my cousin has been passing it along to other relatives.

    • Dday50627 profile image

      Darrel Day 6 years ago from Iowa

      Sunnie, I want to thank you for reading this. You say that this was a timely hub and I would say that your comments also were that for me. I still ponder the question but look at your words and think, yes, they may be the very ones we pass over. The fear of alienating our family may be something that we should step over a bit and say to ourselves, as we do at all of our signings... "The worst they can say is no thank you." I thank you for what may indeed be a little push that I needed right now.

      I thank you again for reading this and will let you know how things go. Always,Darrel

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 6 years ago


      What a great hub and timely. I went o my first book signing and it was only a very small group of people that hosted the Author night. One couple bought my book and guess who bought three copies?..My dear father..I said,"Dad you do not have to do this..what are you going to do with three copies?"..he said,"I am taking them to the retirement center and give them to the staff" there you go..Family members may be the one thing we have been missing. Wishing you the very best.


    • Dday50627 profile image

      Darrel Day 6 years ago from Iowa

      Thank you Scarlet for reading this and for your comments. It is interesting to think of those that do go to family. I have 42 family members and some close friends on here and often think about if they might or might not buy my novels. I guess time will tell on that one. Thank you again. Always Darrel

    • profile image

      Scarlet Scrivener 6 years ago

      I think it's good to understand something about (#1) marketing, (#2) internet marketing and (#3) copywriting. I've never asked a relative or friend to buy a book. But, I know lots of people who do and some people write a book especially for their friends and family members - especially people with big families. I've heard of people doing family histories, interesting family anecdotes, etc. But, these people aren't usually doing it to make money.

      Interesting hub! Accolades and a vote up!