The Soft Sell by Rachel Spangler

bsb_does_she_love_you__00732Happy Wednesday! Today award winning author Rachel Spangler talks about her latest release, Does She Love You?

Want to learn more about Rachel? You can check out her website HERE. Or be friends on facebook HERE. And buy her books HERE (paperback) and HERE (ebook).

The Soft Sell
by Rachel Spangler

My buddy Jove Belle invited me to write this blog a month ago. That’s right, a month ago, and yet here I am on the day it’s due trying to figure out what I want to write about. It’s high school all over again. I know vaguely what I need to do. Surprise, surprise: I want you all to buy and read my new release Does She Love You?, but I can’t just say that. First of all, that would make for a very short blog, second of all we all get tired of hearing “buy my book, buy my book,” in any of its many formats.

We all know that author who just doesn’t know when to stop. They tweet endless quotes of their own books; they constantly remind you how many awards/good reviews their book got. They find a way to work their book’s information into any conversation or the comment section of pictures of random things like kittens or food. We’ve all met that person who sees a picture of my kid, and it just happens to remind them about this one time when they were writing their award-winning book in which one of the characters said, “And that’s why I don’t have kids.” Which of course caused one Amazon reviewer to say the book changed her life, and to think it’s available on Kindle for just $9.99.

Seriously, that person gets hidden from my Facebook and unfollowed on Twitter. We all get tired of the constant pushing and nagging. I don’t want to be friends with those people, and I sure don’t want to turn into one of those people.

On the other hand, in an attempt to avoid the hard sell, I also see women I admire, women I adore, women whose writing I am in such awe of continually put themselves down or fail to engage readers at all. These people aren’t as loud, so you might have missed them, but they say things like, “I just write romance,” or “It’s not much but….” or “It’s probably not very good…” I was recently at Golden Crown Literary Society’s annual conference, and at least six different authors started their readings with an apology of some sort. Why do women do that? Why aren’t we comfortable saying, “I write, and I like what I write, and I think you will too.” Why do we feel the need to constantly manage expectations or offer excuses for things we should be proud of? I get that no one likes a braggart, or a pushy salesperson, but there has to be a middle ground here.

When I was studying political science in college, my father made me take a golf class. He explained that in his line of work very few people were overtly sexist, but women often got left out of the conversation because they didn’t do the casual kinds of boasting men do, the kind of networking that can’t take place in a board meeting or the celebrating that would be inappropriate in a corporate setting. He explained these types of conversations often took place on a golf course, and you didn’t even have to be good at golf; you just had to know enough not to make a major faux pas.

That lesson has always stuck with me even though I never went into politics or got very good at golf. As I sat down to try to think of ways to promote Does She Love You?, I found myself wishing I could take each of you for a round of golf. I wished we could talk about the weather and our wretched chip shots. I wish I could ask about your family or your job. Then I wish the conversation could wander until you asked me what I’d been working on lately. I could then casually say, “I have new book out.” You’d ask what it was about, and in between putts I’d explain that it was about two women who couldn’t be more different except they were both dating the same girl. As we drove to the next tee you might say, “That’s an unusual premise for a romance,” and I’d nod solemnly admitting it was a stretch for both my craft and my emotions. Then with a grin that was more bashful than boastful, I’d confide that those challenges made me a better writer, and to be honest I was pretty proud of the final results. Maybe you’d say you wanted to read it, maybe you’d laugh at me for finding a sand trap, and we’d leave it at that. I don’t know, but I think I’d really enjoy having that conversation.

The thing is, I don’t really golf much anymore, and you might not either. Even if we did we likely live miles, or states, or continents apart. The odds of us ever having a casual chat about my new release or my current writing projects are pretty slim. I think that blogs like this might be one of the closest things you and I have to a golf course, but I’m still not sure I know all the rules for navigating it. So I guess what I need to do now is hear from you about what you would like to hear from me. What kind of book conversations do you want to have with any author? Do you like to read blogs? What kind? Do you follow authors on Twitter or Facebook? What kinds of posts interest you? Where do you hear about books? How do you decide which ones you buy? Most of all, how can we authors talk to readers about our books in ways that goes beyond the sale pitch and get to the heart of the work we all love?

I hope you’ll take the time to offer your thoughts and suggestions in the comment section, and as a way of saying thank you, I’ll send a free e-copy of Does She Love You? or any one of my other books to one lucky commenter.

P.S. Buy my books. Please?

63 comments

  1. Rachel,

    Wow – What a refreshing, honest approach. I would totally play a round of golf with you to discuss your writing. (and I’m not very good at golf.)

    Denise

    P.S.. Your blog worked! Now, of course, I have to get the book. I am intrigued.

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  2. I’m reading your book Learning Curve right now. I recently joined the VLR group. They do Spot-Ons to help promote authors and their books. I read Women and Word so between blogs, groups, GCLS, Facebook and authors and readers that is where I get my books. My list seems to be growing everyday. Does She Love You? is on that list along with so many others. I say be proud of what you do. Promote your book. You can write so many of us can’t. That’s why were readers and your the author…So keep writing….I’ll keep reading them..

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    • Thank you Donna. I am proud of what I do, and I feel very blessed to be able to share my work with such supportive readers. I hope you enjoy Learning Curve. That was my first book and while I’ve learned so much about craft since then I’ll always have a soft spot for those characters.

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    • Thank you Donna! I am proud of what I do, and I feel very blessed to be able to share my work with such supportive readers! I hope you enjoy Learning Curve. That’s my first book and I’ve learned so much about craft since then, but I’ll always have a soft spot for those characters.

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  3. Rachel, hole in one!
    As a reader, I want to be informed but not overwhelmed by choices regarding my to-read list. I acknowledge that following a number of author blogs, subscribing to this and other sites, joining VLR and thoroughly enjoying Cocktail Hour ( in addition to Twitter and G+) I may be my own spammer. I could argue that lesfic does not *yet* enjoy enough general coverage and promotion, but the hard work of authors and publishers is bearing fruit!
    So keep on “keeping on”! You’ve hit the perfect spot in terms of coverage, content and tone and I hope more authors adopt a similar, respectful approach.
    Blu

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  4. Rachel, you are one of the most approachable authors I met at my first GCLS Con this year. I think that alone speaks volumes to whether or not I’ll look for your new releases. It’s almost like waiting for a friend’s new book to come out, if you don’t mind me stretching approachable into friend! Also, I read your FB posts and hearing about your life, minute and big parts, helps with that approachable aura, which again, makes me feel like I don’t want to miss your books. I know this isn’t a traditional marketing sort of technique perhaps, but it works for me, so I wanted to let you know! Can’t wait to read your new book! Ona

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    • I am so glad you found me approachable. I do try my best and genuinely enjoy chatting with readers, but that weekend is always such a flurry of activity that I feel like I never get enough time to just hang out. I’m also happy to hear you enjoy my facebook page. I’ve thought about making a professional page, but to be honest I just can’t separate my life from my work, the two in connected in so many ways and I am who I am.

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    • I am so glad to hear you enjoyed GCLS Ona. I try hard to be accessible and I really enjoy chatting with readers but that weekend is also such a flurry of activity I always feel like I don’t get enough time to just hang out. I’m also happy to hear you enjoy my facebook page. I am who I am, a wife, a mother, and a writer, I can’t separate those things.

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  5. Rachel, I would golf with you in a heartbeat…just for the pleasure of having another golf buddy. I have enjoyed reading your previous books and will buy “Does She Love You?” soon. You see I have to put myself on a strict budget system when it comes to book buying or my credit cards would be in ruins in a very short time 🙂 . August 1 starts a new month, hence a new opportunity to purchase new reads for the Kindle. Hope your day is good.

    P.S. That little boy of yours is absolutely adorable!

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    • Lois, I totally get the book budget. I’ve got a five year old and an old house, sometimes we have to sacrifice the books in favor of new school shoes or a new stove, but I do appreciate you spending those hard earned dollars on my work from time to time. That really means a lot. And thank you for your kind words about Jackson, I think he’s pretty special.

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  6. Rachel, I’m another one who enjoyed meeting you at GCLS. I bought Does She Love You there and am looking forward to reading it(it’s in the towering “to be read” pile. I know promotion is hard for writers who have small publishers who can’t fund book tours and who may have day jobs anyway. In this age when bricks and mortar stores are giving way to e-sales, you might need to do a virtual book tour of readers’ sites(in your copious spare time-lol). Good luck.

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    • You hit the nail on the head Sharon. So much work, so little time, but I am very blessed to be able to do the work I do. It was nice to meet you at GCLS too. I hope you’ll let me know what you think of Does She Love You? whenever you get a chance to read it.

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  7. I definitely want to read this…loved this blog and I have enjoyed your other books too. , ive recently given up on commenting on posts of authors and I unfollowed most on facebook because of exactly that- the hard sell and also I asked questions that never got answered or any kind of reply, like I just exist to buy the book. Yeah, no thanks. I would love to have a normal chat with writers I love and its so refreshing to hear that a writer does feel as you do.

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    • Annabel, I’m sorry you’ve had such a bad experience. Most of the authors I know are great people who love readers and hate the hard sell. Feel free to jump on my facebook any time, but be forewarned it’s mostly pictures of my son 🙂

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    • Correct! We do notice, we notice a LOT. Thankyou Karin, it seems a lot of people have forgotten that us readers are human beings and not just online sales. Ive been reminded of a quote I heard somewhere along the lines of Never neet your heroes- I have come to understand that very well of late.

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    • Thank you so much for this Karin, and I agree completely with everything you said. I’ve worked hard to build relationships with my readers and I hate the thought of someone abusing those ties to make a quick buck.

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  8. Rach, I think you scratched the surface of an important itch for all of us. And enough to prompt a well crafted response from Karin. I hope you will keep this conversation alive in some form, either FB or your blog. We all need to learn how to promote, not only ourselves, but each other. The community is large enough for everyone. Well done.

    Barrett

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    • Thanks Barrett, and I think you are right, there is a big different between someone promotion a friend or a colleague and someone pushing their own work into someone else’s space.

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  9. Rachel, Love the honest approach. I am not much for the person who pushed their book on me, or anyone, every chance they get. I like the posts that mention “so-n-so has a new book out” with a brief synopsis. That’s cool with me and is enough. If an author gets too pushy, I won’t buy it. That’s just me though.
    I really like your books. I still have to get your latest one. I will. I am just getting back to reading after completing my Masters. Thanks for sharing your thoughts in this blog. You have said what a lot of us are thinking. Dutch

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    • Thanks Dutch, and a major congrats on finishing your Masters degree! That’s a big deal. I hope that you enjoy Does She Love You? whenever you get a chance to read it.

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  10. Having a Barbara Wright trailer certainly doesn’t hurt.

    Honestly, just hearing someone talking about what they’re working on in the blogosphere is usually enough for me. It has the added benefit of me being able to see their writing style in little snippets, but that are long enough for me to see if they have blaring word choice/spelling errors.

    Their responses to commenters and people on Facebook (and other places) also help me form my decision. If they get super defensive and cranky with people over perceived threats, that is the number one thing that will guarantee that I will not buy their books. Reminds me of something my dad (who’s a salesman) has said to me. “There aren’t many things that will make someone stop shopping at a store, but the number one thing that will is an awful/pushy salesman.”

    I think you do a good job walking that line. You talk about what you’re doing and mention it (on your own space, not on other people’s) without harping on it. You DO have to put yourself out there, but there is a way to do that without making people furiously block you. Honestly I see the ability to see that distinction as a “you either got it or you don’t” personality trait.

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    • Thanks Nikki – it’s been so much fun to get to know you on Facebook over the past six months. I’m glad I didn’t miss out on that by being pushy or defensive 🙂 I think you also hit on something about putting yourself out there, because I am proud of my work and I do like to talk about what I’m working on, but I hope I am able to do that without putting any pressure on anyone else in the process.

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  11. Great post! Let’s face it… the hard sell sucks. As a reader I like to be informed about when new books are available and that’s about as far as it goes with me. I don’t want to feel pushed into buying. I want the decision to be mine. That’s what I like about this site. It informs me. I follow a very small number authors blogs or on twitter but for the most part this is my place. I come back every day because it feels real. I get updated on books and more often than not I get touched by something someone wrote. I’ll take a “buy my book and oh by the way here’s some insight into me” blog any day. And not only will I buy your new book but I’ll pick up the ones before as well. So if this is our golf course… then lets play.

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  12. Rachel, I think this was a terrific blog.
    You amused your reader and sold your book and it was all done with a deft touch and a sense of humor. You also made a wonderful point about those who manage to kidnap other’s posts to sell their own works. I hope that a few folks recognize themselves and take a break in the self promotion game.
    You wanted to know what to do to reach readers who would want to buy your books. Simple, keep writing blogs like this one.

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  13. Hi Rachel, I love your approach of a gentle chat over golf. The reason I like it is because it is a two way process as is the relationship between author and reader. We both depend upon each other and we are both looking for a happy outcome and, to be honest, mutual respect. I far prefer the soft sell and I think you achieve that perfectly also the fact that your books are fantastic helps a lot too 🙂

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    • Rachel, what a great article. I have all of your books except this new one, and I hope to order it soon. I purchase online from the publisher website but not e-books (so you can exclude me from your give-away). I use our county library as much as possible and have read many titles from Naiad Press, Bella, Bold Strokes, Spinsters Ink, and other publishers. I follow many authors on facebook and would love to go to a GCLS conference some day. We attended several author sessions during Women’s Week in Provincetown two years ago, and it was great seeing you there. I have several close friends who are also avid readers, so we recommend books to each other. I read a few of the blogs, but I also pay attention to books that are nominated and win awards. It is nice to know a little about the authors for those who share on facebook. It is also great to observe the camaraderie and support that some of you share with each other. Keep doing what you are doing. Your accomplishments are appreciated. Go Cards!

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      • Thank you, Sally! I love that your support libraries and the publishers, both are good ways to help authors. I hope we cross paths again soon. And in the mean time lets hope our Cardinals pull out of this slump soon!

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  14. How refeshing to read something that is not egotistical and self-inflating. I like the advice your Dad gave you, I’m sure many deals have been clinched on the fairway or the 19th hole!
    As for your book….I feel the need, the need to read!
    Review to follow.

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  15. GAWD I hope I’m not THAT writer. The one you’ve blocked on Twitter…

    That said, I do play a little golf. My long game is horrible, but I have a decent short game. And I’m not too bad at mini-golf, either. Heh.

    Thanks for joining us at Women and Words, Rachel. Always a pleasure.

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  16. Hi Rachel. I tend to be a reader who is very loyal to my favorite authors. Once I have decided that someone is on that list, I will read everything they write…books, blogs, whatever. When it comes to finding new authors to read, I generally look for suggestions from one of the reading groups I belong to. You are definitely on my list. Great blog, but you don’t have to sell me on anything…just keep writing and I will keep reading. 🙂

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  17. Awesome job, Rach. Your dad knows his stuff! I am looking forward to reading your latest.
    Thanks for the heart-warmingly honest talk.

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  18. Rachel, another fine blog from you. I think the Author who ‘gets’ the reader will always be popular and widely read. I too dislike Authors who treat me like a child and force-feed me with information. Some Authors seem to be promoting their books at every turn and this is a real turn-off.
    Authors who put themselves out there and share some of themselves with readers will be seen as a ‘friend’ and will be supported.
    I too tend to have favoured authors who I will buy everything from.
    Authors who interact on facebook and yahoo groups are more likely to garner my interest. Notice I used the word ‘interact’, I dont see telling all the time as interacting.
    Social Media can be a double-edged sword though as I have ‘ditched’ a number of authors who I have found petty and bitchy and will not support their writing by buying their books. Not many mind you but a few.
    I would play 18 with you any day Rachel, if only distance didnt separate us all.

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  19. Thank you all for the great feedback. It’s good to know I’m on the right track with the golf analogy. With a wife and son and full time writing job I don’t get as much time to just hang out in online groups as I’d like but I do try to check in with several of them from time to time. I try to answer all my mail from readers (if I don’t answer it, assume I didn’t get it and send again!). I also try to reply to any questions posed on my Facebook, twitter, or blogs. Finally my favorite things to do as a writer is attend GCLS and Women’s Week each year were I actually do get to sit down and chat with readers.

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  20. I love the trailer, Rachel. Love, love it. I think we have to look for a balance in how we promote our work. I tweet, and I have both an Author FB page and a personal FB page, where I keep people apprised of my work, but don’t beat them over the head with it. I keep my website up to date as well, for people who go looking for me. A lot of authors are trying to figure out how to do this. In the olden days we didn’t have to market, other than appearances, because the publishers did it for us. Today, not the case. I try to keep an open heart.

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