What turns you off as a consumer? What type of pitch approach works best for you?
Not long ago, I was in a bookstore browsing in the section set aside for"African American" fiction when one of the bookstore employees walked over and asked if needed help finding anything in particular. When I told her no, I was looking, she made an interesting comment. She said, "You know a lot of this stuff is garbage."
Now, had I not agreed, the conversation might have taken an ugly turn (LOL), but since so much of stuff showing up the "African American" fiction shelves these days makes me grimace and shake my head, she got no argument from me. For the sake of full disclosure, let me just add that I'd also had a successful book-signing in this same bookstore the day before this particular conversation took place.
Anyway, the bookstore employee went on to give me a glowing and detailed review of a book by an African American author that she'd absolutely adored. When I asked the middle-aged White woman what had prompted her to read a novel by an African American author and that had something of an "urban" storyline, she'd laughed and said, she felt a certain obligation as someone in the book business to read beyond and outside the realm of "dead White authors."
I nodded, listened and took note, in part because I'd heard/read good things about this same author's work elsewhere. Even though on that particular day, I ended up purchasing a different title, I won't soon forget the bookstore employee's enthusiastic sales pitch and I'm sure at some point, I will check out the novel she recommended.
A number of things generally play into my decision to buy or not buy a book. At the top of my list are factors like recommendations, reviews and excerpts. I pay particular attention to the recommendations of folks whose reading taste are similar to mine. If I keep hearing about a book or seeing mentions of it everywhere, I'll typically go online and take a look at some of the reviews written by both customers and bonafide book critics. If I've never read the author's work before, I generally make an attempt to read an excerpt before I make a final decision.
The bookseller's approach worked well for me because she soft-pedaled her pitch and made an effort to both ascertain my tastes and engage me in polite conversation. What doesn't work so well for me is the hard-sell or what I've come to view as the "hustle man" approach.
Pitch turn-offs for me, include the following:
Shoving a book in my face or hands and saying something along the lines of this, "This here is the bomb! You really do need to buy/ read/check this out today!;
Hounding me, chasing me, or following me around with a book while I'm browsing in a bookstore, at a festival or while I'm out in the grocery store parking lot;
Questioning my intelligence, racial solidarity, spiritual integrity, sanity, willingness to help a brother or sister out, etc.;
Bombarding me with notices (email, snail, etc.) about your latest book, literary endeavor and/or accomplishment, but never attempting to engage me otherwise. I mean, an email just to say hello, how ya doing or a comment on my blog every now and then wouldn't hurt;
Turning up at somebody else's event, uninvited, for the specific purpose of hustling me and the other guests with your literary wares;
Authors who under the guise of marketing and promotion-- boast, brag and otherwise act like they're the best thing to hit the scene since barbecued beans and chicken wings.
I do understand and appreciate that some of the items on my "turn-off" list don't bother others. We're all different and that's a beauty thing (smile). I'm also certain that to some my comments will mark me as a snob or some kind of an elitist. Oh well . . . go ahead and hate me for thinking books deserve better than to be hawked like crack, stolen sneakers or bootleg dvds (LOL). Really, all I'm doing is sharing my preferences and trying to get a better sense for how others go about making that decision to fork over their hard-earned dollars for a book. What say you?