I am not a good salesperson. And that’s the truth.
A few years back, when I was having one of my useless panic attacks about money (I truly believe my Zenish mantra — By Not Worrying About It, It Will Come … OM — but sometimes it just doesn’t keep the 4 a.m. worries at bay), I decided to answer an ad in the paper: “Sell Theater Tickets! Call this number for an interview”. “Easy,” I thought — I liked theater, even had a tad of respect for the entrepreneur whose plays we’d be selling, I could do this! My friendly-phone voice got me the job. I was excited throughout the training and even when they gave me the two-inch notebook of scripts.
But I wasn’t ready for the actual voice-to-voice experience of trying to sell something to someone who didn’t want to buy it. When the customers told me they didn’t have money this year for entertainment (it was the recession after all), I’d answer, “Not to worry, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Have a good evening.” This would instantly get me a tap on the shoulder and a re-training session on Shifting to a Different Script. After four weeks and minimal sales and five re-training sessions, I, and management, thought it was time to just admit I could not sell theater tickets. My life as a call-center employee was over — but not my life as a sales person.
Annie’s Odyssey was “finished” — all tied up in it’s copy-edited bow and ready to venture out into the world. But I wasn’t ready to go into sales mode. Writing it was one thing … selling it another. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in my product. They’re excellent stories — worthy of a splashy cover and glowing blurbs on the back. It’s just I’m a tad shy about venturing into the world of publishers and agents.
I was spoiled with Women in the Office. My first book made it into the world of publishing with very little effort from me — except for the writing, of course. I had fortuitously given Intrepid Editor, Beth McAuley, a ride home from a meeting. She politely asked me what I was doing for my thesis. “Work,” I said. “I’m researching work and what’s happening to women office workers.” Instead of yawning like most people I told (including the murmuring ex-husband), Beth enthusiastically declared that “Work is the Next Big Feminist Issue!” and told me to call her when I finished. I did. That was it. More research, interviews, numerous re-writes and a bit of gnashing of teeth, mine not hers, and a year later it was a book and I was a published author.
This time around I figure it was only made good sense to enlist her help again. I signed up for the Editing Company’s “Publishing Consulting” service. Why not? It was worth the fee just to not have to do it alone. Stupendous Copy Editor, Jessie Hale, took me under her very professional, experienced wing. She gave me deadlines for drafts of submission material, research to be done into appropriate publishers and agents and meetings to attend. Jessie led me through it all. Finally, after the package was all nicely put together, I sent it off to a publisher. I felt gutsy and inordinately proud of myself. Then I waited.
The email came from that publisher four months later — thanks, they said, but “not a good fit” to our list — which made me feel a little like a mis-sized girdle. I didn’t even get a genuine rejection letter that I could use to decorate the bathroom.
But I didn’t crawl into a blue funk, no, with some not-so-subtle prodding from Jessie, I sent out more queries and began yet another wait, and probably will have another one after that.
Waiting for publishers is a lot like waiting for a broken wrist to heal — it’s nerve racking and the exercises you have to do for both are tedious, sometimes painful but so necessary. And, the wait for healing bones and publishers will take just as much time as it needs — not any less or any more — just enough.