During the long and not-so-hot days of summer 2012, I helped sales executive turned writer Oisin Browne structure his book of 100 top sales tips. It was a thoroughly enjoyable process, as we teased out chapters and templates. Now Oisin’s work has seen the light of day, in the form of The Binman’s Guide to Selling.
Oisin self published the book, using CreateSpace for the ebook and a printing company for the hard copy. Since the book was launched on 23rd of May, Oisin has been caught up in a whirlwind of publicity. He’s used the sales techniques he’s honed over 15 years with The City Bin Company in Galway to gather valuable publicity for his books.
I caught up with him to pick his brains about how to sell your writing. Sit back, relax and enjoy my first ever blog author interview.
It’s always good to start with why. So why did you decide to write a book.
I’m not your typical business person. When I was a teenager, I was into poetry. I’d go into Charlie Byrne’s bookshop in Galway and look at the poetry journals. I even got a few poems published. Then for years, I transferred my creative skills to the world of business. Being able to combine my creativity and my business skills (with this book) is an incredibly rewarding thing. Being able to launch my book in Charlie Byrne’s, the same bookshop I went to as a teenager, was like coming full circle.
How did you approach writing the book?
I had a blueprint in my mind before I started, but I needed to to create a template from scratch. I knew it was going to be about selling, but I didn’t know what I was going to put in each chapter. I began by creating my contents pages, with 120 tips, then I whittled it down to 100. Then I started to flesh each of the tips out, organising each of them into a format. It’s like writing little essays, a page at a time. I think no matter what you’re writing, it helps to break your story down.
How did you gather the material for the tips.
I chose to draw my material from life rather than books. They’re the result of more than 15 years’ sales experience. A lot of these tips are just common sense.
What did you enjoy most about writing the book?
The beginning, that thrilling sense that you’re jumping into water and you don’t know how deep it is. But looking back, I think I should have enjoyed the whole process more.
What was the most difficult aspect of the writing process?
The technical parts: figuring out the template and deciding what format to write the book in? Distribution was also tricky. But CreateSpace made the process easier and their customer support was brilliant. Bookshop distributers take a big chunk of your earnings, so I decided to go exclusively with Amazin.
How did you use your sales experience to promote your book?
Because a lot of the tips in this book come from my own experience, I decided to tell my own story. In interviews, I tell people about how I met my wife, over the counter at my local bakery. People are more interested in the story of you than the story of your book. So I figured out what story I wanted to tell. Presentation is also hugely important. I sent out my book in pizza boxes and when people opened them, they saw the book nestled on a bed of rose coloured shredded paper, all recycled because I work for a recycling company.
Which of the tips in your book are most relevant to writers?
Get your intentions right. Figure out why you want to write. Once you know your why, you’ll know your what. Get back on your bike – writers face a lot of rejection, so learn to take it in your strike, believe in yourself and keep going. And finally, don’t drop your trousers! Value your work and other people will too.
What advice would you give to writers who want to improve their promotional skills?
- Figure out what your message is. I built my promotional campaign on three keynotes: the topic selling, writing a world class business book and the ability of employees to lead. I could adapt my message to whoever I was talking to.
- Build a web presence. Create a website that you can direct people to. Make it easy for people to buy from that website. I created Oisin Browne to tell my own story and Binman’s Guide to tell the story of the book. Both the sites are linked, so it’s easy for people to buy the book.
- Know your brand. Build a personal brand and a brand for your book. Think about what makes your book stand out and what will make people want to buy it.
- Make sure your book looks good. You have to stand back and think about how your book will look to the punter on the street. Getting a professional cover designer is the best investment you’ll make.
- Look at other authors. Who are the authors you admire? What choices have they made? How does their book look? Let them inspire you to be as professional as possible.