As I mentioned here last month, I don't have much faith in myself as a salesman. You know the old line about the guy who could sell ice to the indigenous peoples of Alaska? Well, I don't think I could sell parkas and snow mobiles to the indigenous peoples of Alaska.
Of course, that's not quite how the old line went. But apparently "He could sell ice to Eskimos" is potentially offensive if used too loosely. I read up on it on Wikipedia and, frankly, I'm still kind of confused about when it's appropriate. I think this would be acceptable, for instance: "He could sell ice to Eskimos -- by which I mean members of either the Inupiat or Yupik communities of the northern circumpolar region but not individuals associated with the Northern Athabaskan-speaking ethnolinguistic group." But that could be wrong. Can we really trust analysis from a website that refuses to acknowledge the existence of energy vampires and Biggus Dickus?
Bottom line: I couldn't sell cold weather stuff to people who live where the weather's usually cold. (There goes any chance of a gig with Alaska Snowmobile Salvage. Which is a shame, since it seems like a fun place to work. Just look at how they've embraced that acronym!) But even if I couldn't convince a window-shopping Alaska Native to take a 2013 Arctic Cat out for a spin -- only 10,000 miles on the snowdometer! -- I could, at least, treat her with respect. By not assuming she's O.K. with the label "Eskimo," for instance.
Convincing people to buy crap isn't my bag. Trying to be nice I can handle.
Which is why, I think, the new "Holmes on the Range" book, The Double-A Western Detective Agency, has done very, very well in one regard. I've sold 300 copies in the month since it came out, which isn't bad considering my marketing plan could be boiled down to this: (1) Announce that the book exists and can be purchased online.
There is no (2).
But here's how The Double-A Western Detective Agency has been a spectacular success: As of the morning of Monday, Jan. 14, it has 25 reviews on Amazon, all of them with five-star ratings. That means nearly 10% of the people who've bought the book took the time to write a review after they read it. That's a spectacular ratio. It's neat for Dan Brown that The Da Vinci Code has 4,956 reviews on Amazon, sure, but that thing's sold 80 million copies. If 10% of the people who read it suddenly tried to review it on Amazon, it'd break the Internet.
So how was I able to beat Dan Brown (in one small, narrowly defined way)? It wasn't my marketing savvy. See above: I ain't got none. But I'm guessing most of those 25 five-star reviews came from people who've read my blog posts and email newsletters and tweets and feel a personal connection to me. Maybe they've even communicated with me directly via email or Facebook or Twitter. (I try really, really hard to respond to every message and friend request I get.) They're happy when I put a new book and assume that giving me the Amazon equivalent of a pat on the back -- by buying and reviewing it -- encourages me to finish the next one. And they're 100% correct.
Do I have a million bajillion readers, like Dan Brown? Nope. Do I have fantastic, wonderful, lovely, supportive readers? Yes indeedy.
There's a chance I'll finally add a (2) to my Double-A Western Detective Agency marketing plan in a few months. I have to see how certain factors (rights reversions, development deals, book pitches) play out. If I do decide to give the book more of a push, all those five-star reviews are going to make it a lot easier to gain some traction.
So to everyone who's left a review: Thank you!
To everyone who read the book and hated it and didn't leave a review: Thank you, too! (And sorry. I hope you like the next one better.)
To everyone who read the book and loved it but also didn't leave a review: Thank you, as well. (Hey, I'm not gonna go all hard-sell on leaving reviews now that I've firmly established how chill I am about marketing.)
And to everyone who hasn't bought the book yet: It exists and is available for purchase. Do with that what you will....