How does “Sell The Sizzle” translate into “Sell Your Book”?

I’ve been getting back into writing and creative thought again, after several months of major disruption caused by ill health.  After much poking, prodding, testing and experimentation, I’ve substituted certain medications for others, which has helped reduce (although not eliminate) the mental block I was experiencing.

As I become accustomed to the new medications and revised dosages of old ones, my creative abilities are coming back into focus – for which duly grateful thanks to the Almighty, the doctors, my very patient and tolerant and supportive wife, and all others concerned.  I’m halfway through writing a new fantasy novel, and I’m greatly enjoying feeling the ideas flow once more.  I’ve missed them.

I tried not to waste the months of not producing anything new.  I began to study how to write better, looking at various online courses that gave me new ideas and perspectives.  I mentioned one in these pages a few months ago.  I also began to look outside the discipline of writing.  It occurred to me that if we’re trying to persuade a potential reader to buy our book, we could do a lot worse than look at the way we write them in terms of hard-won advertising and sales experience.  If we can write in such a way that our book sells itself, isn’t that a major advantage, right there?

With that in mind, I looked up the five sales principles of the legendary Elmer Wheeler.

The five principles pose interesting questions about the way we write, just as they challenged salespeople in their day (pre-World War II) about how they went about selling their products.  Can we learn from them as writers?  Can we write in a way that sizzles, so that potential readers are drawn in by the mental image?  I think it’s not a bad idea for every author to examine his or her approach, to see whether Mr. Wheeler can help improve it.

In particular, I’m struck by this quote from the video clip above:

Your first ten words are more important

than your next ten thousand.

You know, that makes an awful lot of sense to a writer . . .  I recommend Mr. Wheeler’s ideas to your consideration.  The more you think about them, the more they’ll challenge you to improve your style, and turn prospective readers into actual purchasers.


  1. While I am not selling anything, I do find advice from salestypes useful – but not the way they would like: “Oh that’s that’s what’s to be on guard against.” Call it a form of… vaccination.

    1. Ideally, sales is a matter of figuring out customer needs and wants, and then providing them. So ideally, it is a pleasant and useful process for both parties.


      1. Or sales is the portion of that that closes the gap of “providing” between your publishing it and their buying.

  2. Perhaps as we toss Trad Pub and go for the gold, we should not toss the rule about writing the first page for the “slush reader”.

    1. And the blurb matters. If the blurb tells me that the book is really a Romance when somehow it attracted my interest as something else, yes you might have ‘lost’ a sale — but you also lost a negative review. And only *A* sale. If I buy and find mis-representation.. there went any future purchases.

  3. I need to work some thing out to cross-reference the “sell the sizzle” thing. Because that’s what I do. Shoot: tomorrow I’ll be scripting 10 book talks for a mix of middle-grade titles.

    And while I’m very good at what I do, it’s almost impossible to sell the stuff I love the best. I usually have to steal someone else’s “sizzle” if I can find it. I think there’s something there.

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