Sunday, September 16, 2012

What a Difference a Phrase Makes

              “You watch your phraseology!”

            Remember that line from The Music Man? Audiences laughed at Mayor Shinn’s pretentious use of phraseology, but when you think about it, there is wisdom behind the caution. Friend and fellow writer Carol Gee recently reminded me of the difference a well-turned phrase can make.
             Unless you’re a Danielle Steele or a Ken Follett—writers whose names ensure instant bestsellers—the responsibility for book sales falls heavily on the author. Not good news for someone like me, someone whose attempts at sales have met with dismal failure over the years.
            My lackluster career started with a seventh-grade fundraiser. For Christmas that year, many of our friends and relatives received a two-foot long, plastic candy cane filled with M&M knock-offs, courtesy of the Southmore Junior High choir and my mother’s willingness to buy up my inventory. A few years later, as a young adult, I let my sister recruit  me to sell Amway products. When I announced my new enterprise at work,  fellow employees couldn’t have cleared  the coffee room  any faster had I declared I was carrying the Ebola virus.  Even my best friend returned my glossy brochure with a polite  note—“I’m sure you’ll be successful,”—but without so much as  an order for shampoo. Then came a short—and I mean very short—stint selling World Book encyclopedias.

             But what I lack in salesmanship, I make up for in gullibility and baseless optimism. So fifteen years ago at a Mary Kay rally, I signed  up to be a Personal Beauty Consultant. I’m still using up my lifetime supply of Extra Emollient Night Cream and hoping it has a long shelf life.

            Don’t get me wrong. None of those are bad products. It’s just that I’m a very bad salesperson. So, understandably, my excitement at the publication of Beyond the Farthest Star was somewhat tempered by the discovery I was once again in the selling business.

            Then came Carol to the rescue. In an email she asked me about ways in which I was generating interest in my book.  The words generating interest gave me an immediate attitude adjustment. Maybe because I can “generate interest” by doing activities I like such as talking and teaching and encouraging others on their writing journey. And maybe because it sounds so much better than promotion or marketing which—let’s be honest here—are just kinder, gentler ways of saying sales.

             Generating interest. Yes, I like that phraseology. What about you? Have there been moments in your life in which just the right words gave you an entirely new outlook? If so, please share!

"Generating interest" this past weekend at the
 Into the Book:Festival for Readers and Writers.
Thanks, Bartlesville WordWeavers for a great experience!


  1. It was great to see you! Glad you could make it. :) (PS - my Hadley is very excited for book two in which, she claims, a character will be named Hadley.)

  2. "But what I lack in salesmanship, I make up for in gullibility and baseless optimism." That cracked me up.

  3. When my "have to" turned into "get to" I became happier.

  4. When I realized that "life time" at weight watchers was not a goal achieved- it was a truth. I will be at weight watchers for my life time evermore . . . (proud loser second time around!)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.