I'm terrible at sales. Once when I was young and desperate for employment, I went on an interview for a sales job; my hotshot 25-year-old interviewer pushed a Bic across the desk and said, "Sell me this pen." I started laughing. That's about how well I've done ever since, so I've avoided sales-type jobs all my life: avoided the pyramid schemes, the Avon or Tupperware or Pampered Chef recruitments, even tried to avoid my own children's school fundraisers.
So now I have the one product I can put some faith in, a product I believe in--my own writing. But even now I can't seem to sell. I don't have the big giant salesman balls it takes to do it.
Today at my signing at Books A Million they kindly and strategically put my table right in front of the door. Sometimes, when a person would walk in, I'd venture, "Do you like mysteries?" in the voice of a shy first grader. And the answer was always, "Sorry, no." After a number of those I lost my will to live. I averted my eyes when people walked in, fearing rejection.
Now I know that all those writer/salesman types would tell me, "You have to grab them right when they walk in the door." But I wonder why? So I can frighten them? So they can get that sickly look people get when they fear they've been confronted by a salesperson, or perhaps a sociopath?
At one point, a little old lady with a babushka on her hair came to sit next to me, explaining that her feet were tired. I had an extra chair, apparently to accomodate the fans who might want to get right up in my face and express their love. Instead, my little babushka friend told me why it's good to read nonfiction. Then she pointed at my book, with its spooky cover, and said, "That looks like UFO's. Is it UFO's?"
"No," I said, sort of regretfully. Maybe if it had been about UFO's it would be selling better. Maybe that was an idea for my next book . . . "No UFO's. Just suspense."
She nodded. "There's too much of that UFO stuff."
Before I left in defeat, I bought a couple of books for my sons. The sympathetic clerk at the register said, "It's pretty dead today. Maybe because it's so nice outside. Plus the 1-3 shift is never very good."
I was tempted to ask why I'd been slotted in the 1-3 shift, but I am not assertive that way. Plus she may well have said that just to make me feel better. So I thanked her and took my purchases and returned to my car with my proverbial tail between my legs.
On the upside of things, I went to pick up my boys at my sister's house (she had generously offered to take them so that I could go sit at Books A Million) and I got to see my niece Pammy in her Halloween-costume-in-the-making: a Renaissance lady. My talented sister is making the dress herself, and Pamela will be quite the OCtober queen, which is doubly important, since her birthday is on October 29.
All hail Queen Pamela! And Julia the lousy salesman sadly slipped into her cave.