Well, today’s the day I’m going to make one reader happy and disappoint a bunch of others. Sorry! I really wish I could provide you all with a seat in James Patterson’s Writing Masterclass because I hate disappointing people. *sigh*
However, congratulations go to Kimberly S. Barton! Yay!
Like I mentioned last time, we shouldn’t think that not winning this giveaway will prevent us from being successful. There’s no secret to success lurking in any workshop or conference that we’re going to miss out on if we don’t pony up the money—no matter what the hard-sell tactics might say. *grin*
Slimy Sales Pitches, Part Two
After my last post about how I’m tired of sales pitches playing on our fears, Kerry Howard, one of my readers, reminded me of a similar tactic:
“The tactic I find particularly offensive goes along the lines of ‘if you are not serious about writing and not prepared to take action but want to leave choosing success until 2017 like a loser and miss out on lots of money then this course is not for you.’
Ok, so maybe I’ve elaborated a bit, but that is the implied message…”
Ugh. Yes, I’ve seen tons of sales messages along these lines.
The emotion triggered in these types of sales pitches isn’t quite the same as the fear-messages we discussed last time, which implied: “There’s a secret to success, and I won’t learn what it is unless I buy this.”
Instead of exploiting our fears, however, these “If you’re a serious writer, you’ll…” pitches play on our self-doubt. Either way, they’re emotionally manipulative.
About “If We’re Serious about Writing, We’ll…”
Unfortunately, we see these “if you’re serious…” messages all the time in the writing world. I bet we’ve all seen at least one of these:
If we’re serious about writing, we’ll…
- write every day
- write 2000 words a day
- plot our stories in advance
- use character sheets/scene notecards/chapter outlines, etc.
- focus only on the Big 5 publishers
- focus only on self-publishing
- make writing our top priority
- be willing to sacrifice time and money
- hire a cover artist/editor/publicist, etc.
- Etc., etc.
Just two weeks ago, author Neil Gaiman tweeted a hyperbolic message:
“If you want to be a writer, you want to go to Clarion, NEED to go to Clarion.”
Of course, he didn’t attend this writing workshop, so he knew he wasn’t making a statement of fact. But I think the way his tweet blew up with writers taking him seriously (and being angry with his “directive”) speaks to how many of these “if you’re serious…” messages surround us every day.
He later made sure everyone knew his true thoughts with a follow-up tweet:
“All you need to do to be a writer is to write. Clarion & other such workshops will teach you skills, & help. Help some a little, some a lot.”
As I’ve said many times before, we each have our own goals, which means we each have our own path. In addition, there’s no “one right way” to write. So messages that imply there’s a “right” way—that there’s a serious and professional way and then there’s the loser way—can fill us with self-doubt no matter how good of a writer we are.
It’s really that emotion of self-doubt that the sales pitches are after. If we’re doubting ourselves, we’re more vulnerable to their messaging.
Learn to Identify a “Negging” Sales Pitch
In a way, these pitches are the marketing world’s equivalent of “negging” in the dating world. “Negging” comes from the pickup-artist community, where backhanded compliments (or just plain mini-insults) are meant to undermine a target’s confidence.
For example, a stranger might approach someone they’re interested in and point out a minor flaw (“You’ve got a spot on your shirt”) or slip “helpful” criticism into a compliment (“You’d be even prettier if…”).
As the Urban Dictionary says, negging is…:
“Low-grade insults meant to undermine the self-confidence of a woman so she might be more vulnerable to your advances.”
Hmm, messages that increase self-doubt to make the target more vulnerable. Sound familiar?
Those are the same emotions affected by “If you’re serious about writing, you’ll…” sales pitches. They can make us…
- doubt our ability to be successful on our own,
- want to prove to…whomever…that “no, really, we are serious,”
- forget that there’s more than one way to be successful,
- accept their definition of success or professionalism (even in irrelevant aspects),
- think we’ll miss our opportunity if we don’t act now,
- fall for reverse psychology, etc., etc.
Serious, Schmerious—What Works for Us?
Whether the message is related to sales or not, we want to remember that just like how there’s no “one right writing process”—all that matters is whether we have a quality, finished book at the end—there’s no “one right way” to be a writer.
Even if we’re trying to be a “serious” writer, we get to decide what that means for us. Serious could refer to:
- our content, such as our writing style or topics,
- our dedication, as far as time invested or words on the page,
- our obsession with quality writing craft or editing,
- Etc., etc.
We don’t have to let others define what “serious” means to us. We have the right to ignore those messages that act like we should live up to their definition of the word. And that “right to ignore” goes double for sales pitches.
As I mentioned last time, we have a hard enough journey in the writing world without thinking that we have to sell our first-born child to be able to afford this “essential” class or that “necessary” software. Yes, writing can require sacrifices, but there are options (often free), so we shouldn’t feel like we’ll never succeed unless we buy x, y, or z.
In one of my comments on that previous post, I shared:
“My main point with this post is just to make sure that no writer feels like they can’t become a writer because they can’t afford to attend this class or that conference. I also don’t want anyone to be taken in sales pitches that get them to spend more than they can afford…
Either of those situations is sad, and I hope this helps vulnerable writers be able to tell the difference.”
Hopefully by learning to identify these slimy sales tactics, we’ll be better prepared to avoid them. Or at the very least, we might be able to look past the hype and see if their claims even apply to us, our situation, and our goals. *smile*
And congratulations once again to Kimberly! (I’ll be in touch!)
Do you feel pressure to be a “serious” writer? What expectations have you seen attached to that word (word count output, participating in a writing program, etc.)? How do you define “serious writer”? Do you consider youself a serious writer? Have you seen “negging” sales pitches, or ones that focus on our self-doubt?Pin It