Daily Archives: December 10, 2009

Writing Is Exactly Like Selling Tractors

Huh? 

Tractors are my bread and butter.  Not mine, specifically, as I have no experience selling them.  I could barely tell you the difference between a tractor and a combine.  Yet, after seventeen years of marriage to an Ag Manager, I know a thing or two about DH’s expectations for his sale’s force. 

Basing  my marketing plan off his successful sale’s model makes perfect sense to me.  And once I’m done, you should walk around thinking tractors and books aren’t really all that different.

  1. Writing is a product.  Books, like tractors, must provide the buyer with their heart’s desire.  Each novel, picture book or how-to has a purpose.  It may be sheer entertainment, or it may have educational value.  Regardless of how it is written, the end product is useful.  Just like a tractor is to a farmer.
  2. Writers must know their genres.  Fieldmarketers must know their tractors.  Not that I want to buy a tractor, but if I did, I would find myself a reputable dealer knowledgable about their products.  I would never buy a tractor from a business that only sold lawnmowers and garden weasles.  Likewise, I would never write a Sci-Fi on time travel using quantum physics as a basis for reality.  Though I graduated in the top 10% of my class, I can honestly admit that I am physic-ally illiterate. 
  3. Writers must have a brand or a platform to successfully sell their books.  Tractors have Case IH and John Deere (and others).  Some farmers buy on color (red vs. green) regardless of the product–simply because of branding.  Many book-buyers purchase books based on name recognition.  In a side by side throw down, the familiar name almost always beats out the competion. 
  4. Authors must be approachable.  I would never buy my hypothetical tractor from a curmudgeon.  If I walked into a dealership (and I have walked into many) and the fieldmarketer glowered at me, ignored me or was otherwise unapproachable, I would find myself another dealership.  A writer must like (or appear to like) her readership.  Bashing kids as a nasty breed is not likely to endear me to my potential buyers.
  5. Writers must deliver.  A cool cover blurb might entice me to shell out my hard earned cash on the first book, but if the writing doesn’t equal the promise, I guarantee I will never buy from Author Anita Cell again.  Ever!  I’ve been married to DH long enough to know that farmers are equally demanding.  Bad performance = negative repeat business.  Good service = customers for life.

To become successful writers, we must know what we write, care about our readership and deliver the goods.  Failing this, don’t bother heading to the nearest Ag Dealership and asking for a job.  Their fieldmarketers are held to the same high standards. 

If we are lucky, our books will grow wheels and drive themselves right off the shelves!

~cat