Remember, Writers: Coffee is for closers.

You did it.  You got the words down.  What now? Now you have to close the deal. 

The film clip in this blog is from Glengarry Glen Ross, featuring Alec Baldwin (in an academy-awarded nominated role) giving his infamous ‘Coffee is for Closers’ speech in a David Mamet movie.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s enlightening (be warned: plenty of profanity).

How did you react?  Most people react negatively to Baldwin.  But he makes quite a few good points: If they don’t want to hear what he has to say to him, they shouldn’t be in that room. If they want to make money, they have to close. If you want to succeed, follow: Attention Interest Decision Action

In Write It Forward I teach the three steps of change:  Moment of Enlightenment (Attention and Interest), make a Decision, and then have Sustained Action.

What do you want to do with your book?  If you’re happy you wrote 80,000 words or so and you’re done with it, then you’ve closed.  Congratulations.  Go get a cup of tea.  But if you want to publish successfully, then put down that cup of coffee.  Coffee is for Closers. Most aspiring writers aren’t closers. And most lament it’s because getting an agent is so hard, the odds are terrible, publishing is contracting, no one really reads, etc. etc. etc.  Except here’s the deal:  Agents, publishers, readers, all exist to consume books.  They’re the given.  They’re the lead.  YOU have to be the closer. You have to be the Closer with great material.  By constantly improving your craft of writing.  You have to Close by studying and following the business, by being a professional who wants to be employed in the world of writing.  By following up every possible opportunity you get with determination and professionalism.  By shutting up about the unfairness of it all and doing everything in your power to Close the deal. I was amazing, stunned, when I heard that less than 10% of writers who were told to follow up a one-on-one at a conference by an agent actually sent in the follow up material.  Essentially, those writers called a client who had expressed interest, talked about the interest, then hung up without closing.  They got the Attention, had the Interest, then made the Decision to quit.  To not take Action. If you’re going to self-publish, you’ve just become an entrepreneur.  You’re running a business in a very competitive environment.  Yes, we all talk sweet, but they’ll cut ya! Publishing is a very hard business.  It’s tough to get published in any mode.  Then it’s tough to succeed once you’ve been published.  But people do it.  They’re called Closers.

Write It Forward!

9 Comments

  1. Author Kristen Lamb

    December 8, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Ah, the mantra of the Rainmaker. Every salesperson worth his/her salt has memorized this movie. I love the book “The Rainmaker” and if you liked that clip, I recommend this book…the Bible of Sales. There are two kinds of people in the world. Rainmakers…and those who wait on the Rainmakers to bring the rain. There is no half-way. You bring home the kill or the tribe starves. No “you tried your best.” Excellent book and quick read.

    Great blog!

  2. NICE post! I was pretty amazed to hear that same 10% stat and I’ve heard the same complaints as to why writers aren’t published. The new digital self-publishing opportunities take the “it’s hard to get published” element out of the game and I still see people shaking in their boots about getting published. The only drawback about self-publishing is the half-ass attitude most unpublished writers had about their work carries over to their self-publishing efforts–those that take that leap–and they produce a half-ass product. As you’ve said before, the readers will weed those out and the cream of the crop will rise. Cream = spending the time and money to get professionally edited, professional cover design, market, sell and CLOSE the deal with the readers. Well put, Mr. Mayer! 😉

  3. When my daughter went from retail sales to retail sales management, I sent her this clip and told her to watch it. I’ve been in sales and sales management for 20 years. I then told her that she doesn’t have to manage like Baldwin, but she will have to produce results. At the end of the day you hit your numbers (close) or you don’t. Everything else is secondary. BTW, she’s a closer and has been promoted three times since then. Last year she took over a store that was down 15% three months into the year. On the last day of the year her team beat the annual goal by 0.02%. Give that woman a cup of coffee. 😉

  4. LOL – I think I got off of Bob’s point with my comment Arial. I guess proud parents do that.

    To Bob’s point though, closing the deal is a part of being a writer. You may not like it, but that doesn’t change the fact you have to do it.

    I know I’m not at the point in my writing that the craft is there yet. But I went to the Missouri Writers’ Guild Conference this year and practiced my pitch to a couple of agents that weren’t booked solid (I didn’t want to keep anyone else from getting their legitimate shot). Out of respect for their time, I told them what I was doing and asked for feedback. Then one of them said, “Send me your first chapter anyway. It sounds like an interesting premise.” WHAT!!! Talk about scrambling. This was to practice my pitch, not to actually be asked for pages. But….with the help of a friend (Jami Gold) I polished it as best I could and sent it in. Again, I knew what the results would be because I know the writing craft isn’t there yet. But I wasn’t about to let a learning opportunity pass me by. When I hear 90% of people don’t respond in this situation I am blown away. As Baldwin says, “ABC. Always…Be…Closing.”

    • Amen, bruthah! 😉 Good for you and I’m glad you took that step to put your stuff out there. So many people don’t even make it that far. Knowing where you are and where you need to be is a good thing. You’re honest with yourself without being harsh…a quality many people lack. Awesome! 😉

  5. historyweaver

    June 7, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Love this concept. It definitely inspires and makes you want to work harder to not only write your best piece, but get it out there and noticed..

  6. And here I sit with a giant mug of tea. Ouch.
    So many of my projects right now lack closure simply because *cringe* I am not closing them.

    Thanks for the swift kick in the pants, Bob. It hurts, but at least it got me out of my pity party.
    Time for action! 😀

  7. I am published by a small house and without an agent. The decision to attack the agent front has been an on-again-off-again debate in my head. You just nailed it! Great post. I’m going for coffee and an inner kickboxing session.

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