>> Sunday, June 13, 2010
I was explaining to my husband how I just can't sell squat to anyone, even when I believe in the product. We were discussing good books and what people wanted to buy, and musing that epic type fantasy and science fiction were considered less than hot commodities despite clear examples of their popularity at the movie theater, how it seemed that what was hot just now, the trappings, seemed more important that the caliber of the story. When, in my opinion, movies/stories like Avatar and the Ring Series were great stories with the setting/genre almost immaterial.
Now, that's plenty of fodder for the peanut gallery, so feel free to have at, but we moved on because my husband understood exactly what I meant. His reaction: "Marketing is about selling crap, no offense to anyone. The product might be good or not, but it makes no difference to marketing."
Now, Lee could sell anything to anyone, up close and personal. Me, I never could sell anything, even though I never tried to sell anything that I didn't believe in 100%.
Then it hit me. And I said it. "Scientists make lousy salesmen." See, things are black and white for scientists. Things aren't this or that. They're likely this and data indicates that. We use words like theoretically to describe our best explanation of things. A doctor knows even the best treatments have side effects or don't work on everyone. A scientists knows that long term effects may not be clearly indicated by any single data point (in fact, quite the opposite). A good scientist is ready and willing (or should be) to throw away his most precious pet theories if the data comes in to say something different.
But conviction requires ignorance. To say something is absolutely right or absolutely wrong requires, well, either a lack of understanding on subtleties or a lack of morals. Possibly both. Unfortunately, the public wants conviction; they take it as a sign of honesty (and if they didn't televangelists would be out of business in seconds). They figure the guy who's most convincing must be the one that's right.
But is it true? The oil companies have told us that anything that distracts us from drilling no matter how dangerous or expensive that drilling might be (or who owns the land) hurts us all. The big bankers told us to trust that they knew what they were doing. After all, they were the brightest of the bright and we just wouldn't understand what they doing. It's complicated and takes experts. Surely, the clear recent examples of all the slick talkers that took investors for millions (and their stockholders and their employees) should be reason enough not to equate conviction with actual sincerity.
*Sigh* But we don't.
I love the stuff I write. I do. I believe in it and think it's good stuff. But I can't tell someone it's like X's book, because it isn't. I can't tell anyone that it's a given best seller. Who knows? I can't even say it's the "best" novel ever written. I don't even think so, but, if I did, I know there are too many different definitions of "best" for me to be able to speak for everyone else. Heck, I have more than one myself.
I believe in the book, but I'm not ignorant enough to be a good salesman.
Stinks, don't it?