Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tough Selling

When I blasted the e-mail about TWICE being published to 550+ people, and the Facebook Page invite to 600+, I figured a good percentage of them would buy it. Regardless of the quality of the content, memoirs are inherently interesting, especially when you personally know the author. Hamburgers and I likened it to a snotty girl from our high school who lacked basic writing skills, but if she were to write a memoir, then we’d still buy it.

When I got the feeling that few people were buying from my book’s website, I accommodated.

I visited former doctors and nurses at National Institutes of Health, where I received treatment for my first cancer ten years ago. I took three hours out of my work day and dealt with the insane security measures at NIH, which are somehow more intense than they used to be. I enjoyed spending time with those folks, but was surprised when most—including doctors who are actually in the book—didn’t purchase it.

I am not suggesting that anyone is obligated to buy my book simply because they know me, or because I make factual claims like, “My book will save the world, or, “It will change your life.” I would never instruct anyone how to spend his money. Is my book too pricey in this rough economy? Do people assume my book is not legitimate? Do people no longer read?*

I then offered to personally deliver my book to friends in the Northern Virginia area. I hounded people on Facebook and Google chat, and with texts and phone calls. I wanted to approach the line of being terribly obnoxious without crossing it. This time I succeeded and began bringing joy to book lovers young and old (though, I likely trampled on my obnoxious line).

I met friends in Woodbridge and Manassas to watch football games, and even drove from my apartment in Arlington to the Vienna metro station during afternoon rush hour to deliver one copy. He felt bad and ended up buying two. This may all sound silly, but I view my time and money far less valuably as getting my book out into the world.

I feel like I’m taking an on-the-job crash course in sales and marketing. It can be frustrating how publications and bookstores outright ignore me (a response of “No thanks” or “Not interested” would be better than nothing). But it’s also exciting, and I am up for the challenge. I have a product that customers seem to really be enjoying, but this may be a slow process at first that relies more on word-of-mouth. This I promise: I will never quit until it becomes crystal clear that nobody wants to read my book.

Happy reading.

*My friend, Greek, joked that he had never read a whole book until he finished mine in four days. JD joked that he didn’t know how to read, but finished my book in a week.


Anonymous said...

E-books, Kindle, etc. Those seem to work best for me in a world where accessabilty and time are unexpected. I think an ebook is great because it is cheaper, I can open it at anytime on my phone through email or pdf file and that is what works best for me. Sure it takes away from the mystique if owning a book signed by a former classmate of 6 years but opening an email to hear your story at my convenience rather than hauling your book with me waiting for an opportune time would be something that works best for me.

Regardless I will be purchasing a copy soon because you are good dude with a good heart who has been through a lot and never bitched or complain about your health or how life gave you the short end of the stick growing up. I can appreciate that and think we could all learn from your experiences, that and your blogs are hilarious.

Take care Ben.

-Dan Graziano

Benjamin Rubenstein said...

Haha when I first began reading your comment I assumed it was spam. Dan--awesome comment dude, and good to hear from you, as well. Now I kind of want to get you riled up to keep going on an e-book rant.

Sorry, but it's currently not available for e-readers. I appreciate your support in buying a hard copy. The attempted-hilarious blogs shall continue--glad you like them. Catch you later.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ben,
My daughter rec'd a copy of your book while at the Hemonc clinic at CNMC last month. I quickly read it, and recommened to parents on the LLS blog (my daughter is a leukemia, liver failure, Stevens-Johnson survivor). It was a great book for parents of a teen going thru a similar experience. You covered a difficult subject with humor. I was worried about it making me cry, but each sad anecdote was accompanied by enough humor to make me laugh thru the tears. My heart goes out to your Mom and Dad, its quite humbling to not be able to take away the pain of the person you would give your life for. Best of luck!
Robyn, mom to Maddie DX preBcell All, 7/2008, 3.5 years

Benjamin Rubenstein said...

Robyn, thanks for sharing, and for spreading the word. I'm very glad you found my book helpful. Visiting CNMC was a great experience, and I plan on blogging about it soon.