Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
We’re going through the symptoms of Overly Aggressive Marketing Syndrome, and today’s symptom is Conversation Domination.
Test for this symptom by interacting with a potential reader, and then when finished ask yourself what you know about them. If you come away only knowing their name and where they’re from, chances are, you suffer from this symptom.
Have you ever met an author or writer who will simply not stop talking about their books/deadlines/ideas/plans/what their editor said/what their agent said/what their fans said/and on and on and on? These are writers who ask a question and then leave no room for you to answer. Writers who find ways to steer conversation toward their books and lives. Writers who don’t take the time to get to know their readers.
There’s nothing wrong with being talkative. Many times, talkative people have a knack for making others feel comfortable and welcomed. But excessive chatting can result in conversation domination…a dangerous symptom that will turn potential readers away.
Now, I get it. Talking is a way to stay in control. It’s a way to keep the conversation where you want it, and by preventing the conversation from going in an unknown direction, you may feel as though you’re more likely to make a sale, create a fan, or win someone over. But it just doesn’t work that way.
So how do you treat this symptom? I’m no psychologist, but I wonder if these ideas may help…
1. Have questions ready. One way to win people over is to let them talk about themselves. So, by dominating the conversation, you’re in fact pushing readers and publishing professionals away by not letting them contribute. I’d say an easy way to ensure that you don’t dominate the conversation is to have a list of questions that you can use in conversation. Questions like “What do you like to read?” “How long have you been in the business?” “What are you reading now?” “What got you into publishing?” “What book changed your life?” These are harmless questions that will allow others to share a bit about themselves and feel part of the conversation.
2. Let them answer. I’ve noticed that conversation dominators have a tendency to interrupt and then launch into a personal story that they feel contributes to the conversation, or a personal opinion that they feel is building on what the other person was attempting to say. But this just doesn’t work and makes the other person feel as though their opinions/stories/thoughts aren’t wanted or needed. Let the other person finish their thought…finish their story…finish their answer. And then you can share yours.
3. Commit to coming away knowing three new things about the other person. If you make this your goal, it will force you to listen and ask questions so that you can fill your quota. And the “three new things” don’t have to be super serious or deep. They can be as simple as finding out where the person lives, where they work, how long they’ve been married. But forcing yourself to find three new things will cause you to dig into the other person’s life…it will force you to listen.
Are you a talker? What tricks have you learned to use your gift to bring people in instead of turn them away?