Pitching and Persuasion

Pitched yourself to a journalist or bookstore recently?

Or tried to convince your spouse, boss, kid, or friend of anything?

Just a reminder today of something you already know: It’ll go better if you keep their interests in mind and present the idea accordingly.

You know, a somewhat less crass version of “What’s In It for Me.”

A couple of different interactions this week reminded me that we all naturally start from our own viewpoint and own goals.  And many of the projects we take on, such as, but not only, publishing a book, are so consuming that we kind of get lost in them.

It’s easy to lose the objectivity that lets us step back and think about what the other person might need to be convinced and agree to whatever it is that you want them to do.

So take a look at those two scenarios where authors may find themselves struggling for traction and a positive response.

Journalists need news and a great story idea.

But I’ve said here before that, unfortunately, the fact that you have published a book is probably not news.

Your topic or an aspect of your topic that fits a current discussion going on in society – now that starts getting more interesting. Or if you have a powerful testimony to go along with your book, something that can be a blessing to their audience, that can also draw attention. And while I’d like to say your legitimate news angle, such as winning an award for the book or garnering a stellar endorsement from a local celebrity, should catch their attention, it might not be enough on its own anymore.   

Similarly, if you are trying to persuade someone to allow you to do a book signing.

What’s in it for them?

There are reasons why stores do book signings, and there is some variety in the reasons, but bottom line they want to promote their store and ultimately sell more books. But there might be some more subtle aspects to getting to that goal. For example, many local independent stores also have a policy to support local authors and that’s why they would be interested in you. How many people can you get to come to their store for your signing? What other publicity can you provide for this event?

Take a moment, find out what they need and then tailor your request accordingly. And, I might add, succinctly. The journalists and retailers I have in mind are busy and will ask for more detail after you’ve caught their attention.

There are many other categories where the principle comes to play. But, I have to admit. When it comes to convincing a spouse, teenager – or toddler – to see your point of view…then it gets even more complicated. Do feel free to send me your best ideas to share for the good of all in this community!

Originally sent as an email to the Buoyancy community on January 21, 2022.
Joni Sullivan Baker
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