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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Crown and Cookies, Sally?

Selling a newspaper humor column isn’t easy for a non-assertive, thin skinned, painstakingly polite woman like myself. But I spend a lot of time walking into the offices of editors and publishers, anyway, unexpected and unannounced.

When I get a face-to-face with the chief in charge, I’ve got under 5 minutes to give my spiel and shove my marketing package into his or her hand. Five minutes doesn’t give me very long to convince a tired, worn out, crotchety guy to add my contribution not just to the overwhelmingly tall stack of papers on his desk, but also to his publication.

Aside from calling back, calling back, calling back, and calling back some more, I’ve learned a few other sales rules that I stick to without deviation:

1) Close the deal sooner rather than later. Whether the answer is yes or no, getting an answer allows me to redirect my energy to the next sale.

2) Visualize hearing the right words. I call upon the café scene from When Harry Met Sally. In my mind, I cut and paste the editor’s face onto Meg Ryan’s body and listen while he pounds his desk and screams, “Yes, yes, yes!”

3) Humor increases the odds. Always make ‘em laugh. Sometimes I take one of my children along. My youngest son, on one such adventure, wound up face down, spread-eagle under a publisher’s over-stuffed golf bag. As his little legs and arms waved helplessly, like a box turtle someone held at eye-level, my newspaper column got accepted.

4) Put them in a position in which they cannot say, “No.” (See #3 above.)

5) Take a gift. I’ve perfected my own recipe for chocolate-chip grits cookies. Editors and publishers, being of the dispositions that they are, respond favorably, especially when I serve their snack with whisky.

Now that Palm Tree Press released my new book, If Mama Don’t Laugh, It Ain’t Funny, I’m using these same five principles to get it into the hands of the public.

So . . . Crown and cookies, Sally?

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