All I need to know I learned at the market

View of a holiday market with jewelry.The best lesson? How to see “No” as a positive, and I mean a really big positive. I’m talking sales and marketing, looking for a job or, heck, even finding a spouse (if you happen to be looking for one). But before I go further, it would help to know what I mean by “the market.” I’ve spent a fair chunk of time the past few months selling my novel at farmers markets and, more recently, holiday markets (for upcoming dates, see my events page). Do I think these venues are the end-all, be-all? No, but besides being great sites for people watching–and homemade and homegrown stuff–they offer interesting lessons for life.

How so?

Marcia at a holiday market with her books.At the market, as in life, you’ll hear far more No’s than Yeses. Would you like to look at my book? No. Are you a reader? No. Sometimes the responses are comical and sometimes they’re just darn irritating. At my table, wherever I may be, I sit with my books and ask shoppers passing by if they’re interested. The responses I get are as varied as DNA. A few will say “Yes” and even dash to the table, all smiles, gushing a life-long love affair with books. What could be better? But alas, they’re a minority.

Most people are not big readers, which I saw first-hand at the market. Either they don’t get into books or they simply don’t have time. Their responses, as they pass by without looking, typically mirror one of the following: They say “No thank you” and keep walking; They say “I’m in a hurry” and keep walking; They open their mouths but don’t say anything and keep walking (which is always fun); Or they say “I don’t have money” and keep walking. (Wait, then why are you at the market?)

Holiday market wider shot.Also fun are the people who stop, look at the book, read both covers, love the premise of the story, nab a bookmark with my website, tie up my table to learn about publishing and then leave without buying.

I always say, “Thank you for stopping!” and hope for an eBook sale.

Oh yes she did

But my favorite, of all time, was honestly and truthfully, one of the sweetest people you could imagine: an elderly woman–yes, a little old lady–with her little old husband in tow.

“Is this your book?” she said, with glee.

“Yes it is,” I answered, beaming.

“And you wrote the whole thing?”

“Yes, the whole thing.”

“And you live around here?”

“About six minutes away.”

“That’s wonderful!”

“Well, thank you.”

“No, really, that’s exciting! You’re a local author and this is your book!”

“Yes,” I said, “and I have signed copies here for $12. Would you like to buy one?

“Oh, no,” she exclaimed, “I would never pay $12 dollars for a book! I get them free at the library.”

Despite all this, I’ve found success at the markets too. I’ve made multiple book club connections, sold to readers who wrote amazing reviews, learned my target audience (mostly women older than 30) by selling books to them in person, handed out dozens of bookmarks that became Kindle sales, met other writers and got excellent marketing tips. Not to mention what I discovered about my novel: the first impressions, the pros and cons of my cover, and thoughts on The God of Sno Cone Blue as a title–Oh, the things people assume!

It really works

Holiday market hats, etc.Best of all are the lessons I learned that are useful in everyday life: like reaching out and taking chances, like being prepared for whatever may come. But my absolute favorite is the lesson of “No,” and it works, it really works! Instead of seeing No as a negative, consider it one step closer to your next Yes. That’s right: one step closer. Because we all know there’s another Yes down the road. The problem is we get discouraged waiting for it, and how effective are we then?

So, instead of seeing No as a negative–in life or on the job, building a business or fostering relationships–think of it instead as one step closer to your next Yes. Here’s what it did for me: It changed my attitude, it turned me into a better salesman, and it made the work exponentially more enjoyable.

Come pay a visit

I’ll get more practice in the coming weeks with turning No into a positive. Holiday markets are in full swing and I’ll be signing my book at a slew of them. If you’d like to drop in on one, check the schedule on my events page. When you spot my table, saunter over and say “No” and we’ll share a laugh.

–As always, your comments are welcome. Just click Leave a reply below–


4 thoughts on “All I need to know I learned at the market

  1. A funny, insightful post and I liked it a lot. You touch on something very important: whether we pitch our books to readers, or pitch outselves to potential sources we hear tons of “No” before getting to “yes.” You know the rally — keep pitching. Good luck always!

    • Thanks Mark. It really did change my attitude. At first, it was super hard to hear “No” over and over, easy to get down about it. But when I started looking at it another way, I actually got a kick out of the no’s. And sure enough, someone would come along soon with great enthusiasm to buy my book or want to take it to their book club. There was always a positive down the road that vastly outweighed the negative. Thanks for the comment and for stopping by!

  2. My favorite post to date, Marcia. (photos a big plus, too) Thanks! Little old lady? How about a nice young woman! My grocery cart was full at Safeway the other day (my teen twins eat, eat, eat) and I had to resort to stuffing the bottom of the cart with overflow items ( a sure tip-off our pantry was empty). At the check out counter, I noticed the bagged items just didn’t seem to add up. But I was in a hurry so it was out the door and to my SUV pushing a full cart. While I downloaded, a nice young woman walked up carrying a bottle of sweet tea and handed it to me. She said she saw the bottle fall off my cart. I hesitated at first. She smiled and I mumbled something about how impossible that was and I would have noticed it fall, blah, blah, blah. The woman nodded and walked away as I managed a feeble thank you. I felt a rush of gratitude toward this person…a stranger who came to the rescue. Trouble was, I never bought this jug of sweet tea. Back home I double-checked my Safeway receipt. As we drank free sweet tea around the kitchen table, I told my twins about the nice young woman and her gesture of kindness. Yes, mistaken or not, the woman’s help was genuine. It seemed to make a big impression. Now, as I head off to buy more groceries, my girls remind me to keep an eye out for the “Sweet Tea Lady” or they wish me good luck and hope I meet up with the “Sweet Tea Lady” again. So far, no sign of her. But I’ll keep you posted.

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