Why Yard Sales Are Named Wrong (And What That Means to You)

I love yard sales and garage sales. I avoided them during my life as a nomad, carrying everything we owned everywhere we went, but they still tugged at me. Now that we’ve settled (for a while) I’m itching to get out and find some beautiful wood furniture on the cheap, and maybe an old book I can rebind.

Yard sales have been corrupted by business thinking and the wrong why.

yard sales are named for the wrong why

A yard sale is not about making money. If you want to make money, carefully craft meaningful ads for Craigslist, eBay, your website, the local paper. But piling all the junk from your garage and closets out in the yard is not about making money.

It’s about cleaning out your garage and closets. Getting rid of junk.

If you accept that anything leaving your yard is success, you won’t be selling your used copy of a Dire Straits CD for $5, you’ll sell it for a quarter. If someone says sure, I’ll give you a buck for this, but can I take that, too? you’ll say yup, get it outta here.

Are you getting rid of junk, or trying to make money? Clearly define why you’re doing something, then follow a plan for that version of success, not some other version you’re not even aware is in your head.

There’s a subtext here that’s not about yard sales.

N. B., Business Authors

Ask an aspiring author why they want to publish a book and money comes up pretty quickly. As business folk, we’re used to selling things, selling our expertise, selling in general.

The changes in the publishing industry mean that anyone can publish a book, and they all do. (Okay, we, not they.) The volume of published works out there is staggering. We’d each have to be buying armloads of books every week for every author to fulfill their dream of making money selling copies of their book.

Fiction authors have it easier. They can always dream of making it big, because someone is going to, and the market is fickle and unpredictable. Write lots of books people want to read and who knows what can happen.

Non-fiction, not so much. The rarified strata of best-selling (read “actually made money”) business books tends to be peopled with New York Times columnists, professors from ivy-walled institutions, and folks who already had more zeros in their bank accounts than you and I. This is in part because they take far more time and effort than most independently published authors to research and refine. They often have a different level of support team in place. They were celebrities before they published.

Making money selling copies of your business book is hard. Marketing it can easily become a full time job.

Consider a different “why” and maybe you won’t work so hard.

Get it Out of the Yard

Just like that yard sale, a different perspective can make a world of difference.

You already have a business. That’s why you’re writing a book, because you have something to teach. Instead of focusing on something new (selling books) focus on what you already do. Use your book to display your expertise, your teaching style, your personality, your dedication to your craft.

Help fans of your books become fans of you.

Different Why —> Different Behaviour

While you should certainly think of yourself as an author, don’t think of yourself as a bookseller. Continue to be who you already were, just amplified and refined.

Now, when you meet someone fascinating, someone you’d love to work with, instead of selling them a book you’ll see the value of the opportunity and know whether or not giving them this great big impressive business card (y’know, your book) is the right way to show your sincere interest.

You’ll continue looking for ways to connect, to give, to learn, to participate. You’ll spend far fewer networking meetings and coffee shop chats wondering how to make $12 on a book, and continue what you’re already doing: sharing your gifts so you can help change the world.

I wonder if I should take all the price tags off my books. Just let folks make me an offer.

It’d be nice to get them out of the yard and into peoples’ hands.

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