I Wrote a Book 22 Years Ago, and Just Looked At It for the First Time Since
Did I know what I was doing way back then?
One of the interesting aspects of getting older is how some things recede into the past while others are still clear memories that still feel recent. You’d think writing and having a three hundred page book published would stick in the memory, but this one hadn’t.
Recently, I was working with a client to help them with their sales strategy, from a marketing perspective. They had contracted with a sales training firm whose primary marketing tool was a book they’d written touting their ‘new improved, not old school’, sales methodology. As part of the prep for a meeting with them, we all read their book.
Non-fiction business books come in two flavors these days
The two flavors are those written to sell books and those written to advance careers as consultants and speakers. The first requires the book to be useful enough to gather recommendations and reviews, and generate positive word of mouth and profits. The second flavor is seldom as well-thought out and well written. Its primary purpose is to lend authority to the author so they can make money as an ‘expert’. The sales book by the consultants was squarely in the second category so I didn’t think I’d find much of interest in it. And it was just about what I’d expected: a pitch for their ‘unique’ sales secret sauce. But the approach looked familiar to me.
Taking a trip into Amazon to see if I could find one of my own books
Years ago I wrote a book about sales, for a series I did on self-employment for a West Coast publisher, now defunct (no, it wasn’t my fault!). It had been out of print for many years and I did not have a copy. In fact I only have copies of a few foreign editions of my books that I held onto as a novelty. I really didn’t remember much of what was actually in it, though I did remember the basic sales process I’d based the book on. It had been drilled into my head as a young salesperson in my early twenties. So, I went on Amazon, searched my name and there it was in all its ‘used in good condition’ glory for the price of $5.48, not one penny of which would go to me. Presumably I’d made a dollar or so on the copy many years go so…I bought it.
It’s a lot longer than I remembered
The semi-interesting thing about this book that I do remember is that I had three months to write it and that I had procrastinated, working on other projects, for two of those months. So I wrote it in one month. It is 300 pages long, in a trade paperback format. Prior to starting my publishing career I had lived under the delusion that writing 300 page books took years, but the hard and fast truth is that most basic how-to stuff gets written fast.
The book arrived, I opened the envelope and the book was much more substantial than I remembered. I thumbed through the extensive table of contents and realized it was far more comprehensive than I remembered. And honestly, a lot of the content looked pretty useful. But I was looking for a specific process section that covered the methodology the sales consultants were touting as new and different.
Some basics just don’t change over time
Selling is an interaction between two people trying to solve a problem to the benefit of both of them. One receives a solution and one gets paid for it. This basic process remains the same, even though there are thousands of books out there purporting to have discovered a surefire new way to energise it and take it to a new level. My methodology was not written to promote myself as an expert. It simply walked the reader through the basic elements of selling. Looking at it with a perspective changed by over twenty years of experience was gratifying. It’s a pretty good book.
The book title is Sales for the Self-Employed (Prima Publishing). Apparently you can find used copies. My caveat before you do is that the content did not anticipate the impact of everyone having access to information about everything, at their fingertips. However, It still resonates.