Marketing Blunders

forehead-65059_1280Comparing someone’s son to a fictional serial killer might not be the best way to gain a sale, but it certainly makes for an interesting story. Today my guest James Callan shares his less than effective sales tactics, because well, if at first you don’t succeed, you may as well laugh about it. For those in sales, don’t do as he did unless you want to end up here. 😉 For everyone else, still don’t do as he did.

Marketing 001 by James Callan

I’ve never been a good salesman. In grade school when they had those contests to sell magazine subscriptions, I couldn’t sell one to my mother. Years later when I had a summer job delivering milk, the dairy held a contest to see who could sell the most of a particular ice cream product during July. I almost won that contest. Not because I sold any – except to myself. But I bought enough to place third. However, selling to yourself is not the best marketing ploy.

So, it’s no surprise that I didn’t do well at personally selling my books. Not only did I have to “sell,” but I had to do so by telling people what a great writer I was. I found that difficult, even though down deep, I did – sort of – believe it. Well, maybe not great, but at least very good.

One day, I was visiting with a successful writer who sold a lot of books. When I questioned her about where she sold, she said, “I sell everywhere.” She went on to mention a few expected places, and then she said, “I once sold three copies as I was being wheeled in for a minor surgery.”

When I asked how, she stared at me like I had the brains of a brass doorknocker. “Nurses and doctors read. And my insurance company and I were certainly paying them enough that they could afford my books.”

I decided I had to give it a try.

The next day, I was at a basketball game. The referee called a foul on a basketball-1565404_1920player who looked mean enough to kill small animals. So I took the opportunity and turned to the man next to me. “That guy looks like the killer in my latest mystery book.” I was ready to launch into my elevator pitch.

The man glared at me as if he might kill me. “That’s my son. And he’s a very nice young man.” With that, he got up and moved a couple of rows away from me.

That discouraged me. It was obvious I needed to work on my approach.

The following week, I had a dental appointment. I was sitting in the chair, telling the nurse about my latest book. The doctor came in, so I immediately began to give him a quick sales pitch. After thirty seconds, he said, “If you would stop talking, I could fill that cavity.”

I shut up. But before leaving, I handed the nurse and the doctor my card which contained an image of the cover of my book and a buy link on it.

There. I was marketing.

James R. Callan, 2016

jim-color-formal-smallJames R. Callan is a writer of mysteries and suspense novels who comes from a varied background. He has taught at the high school and college level. He has worked in a research center in the field of mathematics. He served as the vice-president of technology for a database company. He has received grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA. He has been listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans. He has written and had published eleven books. In addition to writing, Callan loves to travel. He and his wife have visited all fifty of the United States and six of the seven continents. They divide their time between homes in Texas and Mexico. They have four children and six grandchildren.

cover-a-silver-medallionA Silver Medallion:

“… a gripping, action-packed adventure from talented author James Callan.  Crystal Moore is a tough and savvy heroine …”

New York Times Bestselling Author Bobbi Smith

In 2015, young, naive Crystal Moore encounters a slave in Dallas, Texas — a slave held not by chains, but by threats her two girls held hostage in the jungles of Mexico will be killed if she escapes.

To Crystal, it’s clear. The children must be rescued first, or the mother will never escape.

Crystal will need the help of mysterious Juan Grande. If she succeeds, mother and children will be free. But Crystal will have two powerful and ruthless men, one in Texas, one in Mexico, who will want her dead.





About Jennifer Slattery

Novelist and speaker Jennifer Slattery, also writing as Jen Pheobus, uses humor, grace, and truth to inspire God's children to live abundant, Christ-centered lives. She does content editing for Firefly, a southern fiction imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, and is a regular contributor to; Internet Cafe Devotions; Faith, Friends and Chocolate; and manages the social media for Takin’ it to the Streets, a ministry that serves Omaha’s working poor and homeless. She’s placed in numerous writing contests and her work has appeared in numerous compilations, magazines, and e-zines.
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