Friday, August 30, 2013
Selling Books Like a Client Advisor
By Alice J. Wisler
My husband Carl makes a tasty beef stroganoff, cleans the kitchen after cooking, is an attentive listener, and when asked, will give his opinion. He also sells used cars. Of course, you would expect that the company where he's employed - BMW - would come up with a classy name for its used car salesmen. They are known as client advisors. And the cars aren't called used; they are pre-owned. During his first weeks at BMW, Carl still had a lot to learn about each feature of the cars in stock, but even so, he was praised. His ability to engage with customers was appealing to the management. He'd also sold a number of cars, and one of his clients invited both of us to his annual Christmas party.
As authors with books, we can learn from client advisors. True, what each of us really wants is to sell is a 328i or a romance novel. But the manner in which we do our selling is key to staying credible and authentic in a society that is filled with irritating sales folk. Plenty of authors push their paperbacks as though they are better than immortality. This can be exhausting for the customer. The real question to ponder is, do you care about your readership? Does it show?
The other day I read a post on a business blog, promoting a particular author. This blogger was impressed with the author for the way in which he responded to email messages. "He is quick to write back, unlike typical authors." I read between the lines: Unlike most authors, who either don't respond, or take forever to do so, this author cares. Write to him. You won't be wasting your time.
I know one thing: I don't want to be that author who neglects her audience. I want to be like the salesman at Lowe's, who claims, "In the fourteen years that I've been a salesman, I've always made it a point to meet my customers' needs first. It's not about selling what I want them to buy, but finding out what meets and suits their needs." His customers even followed him when he transferred to another store in town.
In a similar fashion, my sister-in-law, a massage therapist, asks her newsletter subscribers for their advice. "Tell me how I can make your experience better," she writes. She wants her readers to lead enhanced lives, offering details about workshops she's attended that have helped with her mental and physical health. She's looking at the whole person, not just that they get their muscles taken care of by her.
In their book, The Heart of Marketing: Love Your Customers and They Will Love You Back, authors Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski are more interested in creating a relationship than closing a sale. They use the soft-sale approach to marketing products and services as opposed to the bottom-line driven method. Much recognition has been given to them as they lead others in this heart-inspired style of doing business.
As you market your books, don't be so focused on the sale, but on the buyer. Naturally, you want him to buy a book or two (how about ten?), but there is more to life than your book. You can tell him how helpful the book is with its tips on collecting butterflies or growing petunias. Or for a novel, you can tell of its merit due to reviews you've receivedóhow others have found it enjoyable. But if you are vain, prideful, or snotty, you can turn customers off. Listen to those who come to your book signings. Engage in their thoughts and comments about what makes them tick. Let it be about them, and they will remember how good you made them feel. Follow this rule of the heart and watch your readership grow.
You, too, can become a caring client advisor!
[This article was first published in the July 07, 2010 issue of WritersWeekly.]
~ Alice J. Wisler loves it when her husband cooks dinner so that she has more time to create characters for her Southern novels. While she feels everyone would benefit from reading about Ducee and her pineapple chutney-making rituals (RAIN SONG), bandana-wearing Jonas and his swinging wrench (HOW SWEET IT IS), and Aunt Sheerly's enthusiasm for winning the Kitty Hawk song competition (HATTERAS GIRL), her children remind her that there is more to life than her novels published by Bethany House. However, she's sure they wouldn't mind if you ventured to her website to read more, sign up for her newsletter, or comment on her blog: http://www.alicewisler.com
Saturday, August 24, 2013
It's that time of year again. That time when the yellow raincoat hanging in my closet feels as heavy as my heart. Everyone else is older now and with each passing year, this raincoat looks smaller than it did when he wore it. How could he have once been so small?
I look into the face of my son, that cute photo I took when I was just taking another picture of a child. Back before I realized that it would one day help to heal my heart.
There is so much I don't know. I don't know why Daniel spoke of Heaven so fondly. We never told him that he was going to die. I suppose it was because I never believed he would. Not until the very end after the staph infection shut his body down and the EEG confirmed what I did not want to hear. My son was brain dead.
Prior to that he looked into the sky one day and shouted, "I wanna go to Heaven!" His father and I looked at each other, speechless. No, no, our expressions conveyed. Not yet. Get well first and live and then die an old man.
I don't know why he wasn't able to die an old man. I don't know why he didn't even get to learn how to read.
He memorized. He memorized a complete book of jokes. And Maurice Sendak's Nutshell Library collection. "I told you once, I told you twice, all seasons of the year are nice for eating chicken soup with rice." He laughed at Pierre who got eaten by the lion and said, "I don't care." He loved for people to read to him. Curious George Rides a Bike. Are You My Mother? Where the Wild Things Are.
He spat watermelon seeds, built towers with Legos, loved Cocoa Puffs, and gave stickers to the doctors and nurses. "Because," he said, "you give presents to your friends."
After the doctors said there was no more that they could do, I kissed his cheek and whispered to him that he could die. "People tell me to let you go. To let you go. To say good-bye. You can go." The words sounded too harsh; no mother should have to tell her child that he is allowed to die. Quickly, I added, "But not yet. Not yet."
A bald-headed boy in a comatose condition, bloating on a sterile bed was better than no boy.
Each morning when I woke from the bed by his, I was relieved that he was still with us. Today was not the day I would have to deal with death. Not today. Not yet. I talked to him, I told him that I loved him. I told him he could die and I told him not to.
My mother was reading to him from a children's book about a boy who took a star from the sky and tried to keep it in his bed. But the star didn't belong in his bed and began to lose its light. At last, realizing that the star needed to be in the sky once again, the boy let the star sail back up to the heavens. "You can go, too," my mother whispered to Daniel.
Minutes later, our Daniel star left us. After only four years, his body had served its purpose. It was no longer needed. His spirit freely flew, sailing up to Heaven.
No more cancer, no more tears! "There are no tears in Heaven," he'd told me one day. Then he turned and asked me why.
"Jesus is there and there is no sadness when you are face to face with Him," I said.
There are no tears in Heaven, but there are plenty on earth. Especially when I hear Elton John sing Daniel or when somebody mentions Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. Or when it's just an ordinary Sunday and the choir sings Amazing Grace.
I never thought he'd die. I always clung to healing, to health, to growing up with him, not without him. To more walks in the rain with him in his raincoat. To more times of him running out to greet the ice cream truck with all the change he could gather from the kitchen drawer.
I expected more birthdays, more kisses, more laughter. I wanted to send him off to kindergarten; instead I send kisses to Heaven. I take pictures of sunsets and sunrises, oceans and flowers, plant memorial gardens, and search for butterflies and rainbows. And I see the gap he has left between his older sister Rachel and his younger brother Ben and his sister Liz----the one he never met.
But after Daniel died, I remembered that I'd had a dream about six months into his treatment. He was climbing a ladder and the top of it was shaded by clouds. He was smiling, happy, no tears, no pain. He waved at me and continued to eagerly climb with a surge of energy. The next morning I shared the dream with my mom and my friend; their faces were sullen. What was wrong with them? My dream was a clear indication that Daniel was going to go from being ill to being free. His smile was a sure sign that he was going to be healed from the disease. We would have more of life here together.
Now I know that the dream was showing me that Daniel was climbing up to those clouds and beyond---beyond what I have ever experienced----where those who aren't around us anymore to share jokes live. I had wanted to keep him, hold onto him, I wasn't ready to let my precious star go back to where he came from.
I still want him here. With us. But I imagine Heaven is too wonderful to leave and once you are there, you are the happiest----your most perfect and content self----the way you were meant to be.
I love you, Daniel. I miss your bright blue eyes.
But your star shines bright. Especially tonight on your 21st birthday.
In memory of Daniel Paul Wisler: August 25, 1992 ~ February 2, 1997
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Today I welcome Lorilyn Roberts, the author of many books and founder of the John 3:16 Network. While this excerpt from her book leaves the reader without knowing what happens, rest assured that Lorilyn's daughter is alive and well today.
I recall having parasites. Actually, I had an amoeba inside me for about six months when I lived and worked as an adult in the Philippines. Ugh. I remember having to drink two containers of a white substance to kill the thing. Very nasty. Inside creatures really wear you out.
Here's an excerpt from Lorilyn's book, Children of Dreams.
The orderly pushed Manisha’s gurney over to the CAT scan room. I had found a pay phone and called my mother.
Her first comment was, “Do you know what day this is?”
I remembered what day it was. September 18th. Four years to the day and almost to the hour, my father had died of a brain tumor. It was about 5:00 p.m. It was too surreal.
She promised to get the first flight out of Atlanta that she could. After the CAT scan had been done I heard the nurse calling for a doctor.
“A doctor will be with you shortly,” she said and walked out. I knew something was wrong and snuck over to look at the scan.
There was something big and glowing. I nearly collapsed from fear, but the nurse returned and chastised me for being there. She quickly escorted me out without answering any of my questions.
Manisha called for me, and I hurried to the CAT scan machine where she was still lying.
“I love you and everything will be okay,” I told her holding back tears. I looked into her eyes wondering what was inside her head that had caused this evil and horrible thing to happen.
I prayed, “Dear, God, please don’t let her die.”
A few minutes later Laura arrived with her husband, Dr. Jay Lynch, an oncologist at Shands. They each gave me a hug. Their presence meant so much because I wasn’t sure I could go it alone. Jay left to discuss with the doctors what was on the scan. Laura handed me some clean, dry clothes and I discarded the ones that were soiled.
My world, as I had known it, had been turned completely on its head. One moment I had a happy, healthy seven year old daughter that I loved more than anything in the world. The next moment, I feared she might die.
A pediatric neurologist had been called in to meet with me and discuss Manisha’s case. Jay had returned.
“I want to do some research on something and I’ll be back a little later,” Jay said.
One of the nurses dripped something into her IV and walked out leaving me alone with her. Suddenly she started itching violently. I ran out of the room trying to grab someone’s attention.
“Please come help my daughter,” I cried. “Something is wrong. Please come now.”
One of the nurses ran in and stopped running the IV.
“What is in the IV?” One of the doctor’s asked.
“She must be allergic to the Dilantin. We’ll have to use something else.”
After that, Manisha settled down and rested more comfortably. I was shaking and scared.
“Please God,” I cried, “Don’t let anything else happen.”
A short while later Dr. Kohrman, a pediatric neurologist, walked in. He was warm and engaging and his demeanor helped to put me at ease. He told me he had looked at the scans and wasn’t sure what was going on.
Dr. Kohrman performed a neurological evaluation on Manisha. About that time Dr. Lynch returned. He and Dr. Kohrman discussed Manisha’s scans in doctor lingo as I sat and listened.
Along with the neurological evaluation, Dr. Kohrman took a medical history. I told him how I had adopted Manisha when she was three from Nepal. She had chronic diarrhea when she arrived and had undergone testing to determine the cause, but nothing definitive ever showed up. It had eventually gone away with good nutrition.
She also had a stool sample with parasites, but they were never able to confirm what was there because the second stool sample was negative.
I came to appreciate how important the medical history was along with a medical examination. Both Dr. Lynch and Dr. Kohrman agreed they weren’t sure what it was, but considering Manisha’s background coming from a third world country, there was a possibility she had something called neurocysticerosis.
Anything that wasn’t cancer had to be a better diagnosis, I thought.
“What is that?” I asked.
Dr. Kohrman explained, “Neurocysticerosis is a parasitic infection of the nervous system. It is caused by the larvae of the tapeworm, Taenia solium, normally found in pork. When the larval cysts travel to the brain, either the invasion of the organism or the death of the organism can cause symptoms, oftentimes seizures.”
“Of course, we must be sure of what we’re dealing with,” he went on. “If it’s a brain tumor, she’ll need surgery. We will need to admit her so we can work her up.”
I had always found uncertainty difficult. To have my child have something serious and not know what it was caused me excruciating pain. Jay took me into a private room away from the bustle of the emergency area and gave me words of encouragement and prayed for Manisha. I was thankful to have a Christian doctor and friend interceding for us.
Children of Dreams is being showcased by the John 3:16 Marketing Network as part of their August Book Launch Event. Be sure to visit http://bit.ly/Christian_Books for a chance to win a Kindle, a $25 gift card and a $10 Starbucks card, as well as purchase Children of Dreams.
Lorilyn Roberts is a Christian author who writes children's picture books, adult nonfiction, memoirs, and a young adult Christian fantasy series, Seventh Dimension.
Lorilyn graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Alabama, which included international study in Israel and England. She received her Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Perelandra College and is a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature.
Lorilyn is the founder of the John 316 Marketing Network, a network of Christian authors who are passionate about promoting books with a Christian worldview.
To learn more about Lorilyn, please visit her website at http://lorilynroberts.com or blog at http://lorilynroberts.blogspot.com. You can follow her on twitter at http://twitter.com/lorilynroberts
Monday, August 5, 2013
Marsha Richardson, Phillip's mom, shares with readers here today. She writes, "Attached is a photo of another plate piled high with spaghetti . . . another of Phillip's short list of favorties...again, prompting mom to implore, "Human-sized bites, please!" Thank you Alice, for sharing your touching stories as well as allowing us to share ours. This is truly a healing process! Thanks again."
In Memory of: Phillip L. Richardson, III
March 16, 1989-July 17, 2010
1 large bunch of broccoli, steamed
2 cup chicken, cooked
2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
croutons or buttered bread cut into cubes
Arrange broccoli stalks in 9x13 pan. Place chunks of chicken on top. Spread mixture of soup, mayonnaise, and lemon juice on top. Top with cheese and croutons, if desired.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.
Can be served over rice or noodles.
To say that Phillip was a picky eater was the understatement of the century. He liked what he liked and could eat a ton of it. But if you didn't have what he liked, he would just plain not eat at all. I could always count on him piling his plate high with Chicken Divan---no rice, no croutons, just Chicken Divan. Ironically, the recipe was given to us by our daughter's best friend's mother who undoubtedly grew tired of it being requested every time my daughter walked through her door. It became a family favorite since it was easy and everyone liked it, which meant we could all actually eat together . . . which is priceless when you have teenagers.
I can still see Phillip shoveling his pile of Chicken Divan down with hardly a breath in between bites and me reminding him, “Human-sized bites, son!”
Special thanks to Rae and Bill and Laura Oldham for sharing this great recipe and all of the precious memories that it inspired.
--Phillip's mom, Marsha Maples Richardson
Order a copy of Memories Around the Table today, compiled by Alice J. Wisler!
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