Not so great moments in (salesman) history


I was complaining to a friend today about this blog I know that has no subject. It was really annoying me. Of course, it was my blog that I was talking about. She said, “I really like reading it. It’s entertaining. Seinfeld was about nothing.”

On this blog I’ve written about writing (interesting to writers), working in sales (mostly amusing anecdotes), and books. In truth, I know the formula that can take a good blog to great, but the subject still eludes me. It’s a big commitment. I regularly read a blog that started out being about USC Trojan Football. Now, it’s mostly about the reality TV shows The Bachelor and The Bachelorette (check it out HERE.) It’s very funny, but now this poor guy has to watch every episode of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Lest I step in to a topic I can’t step out of, I’m going to continue treat this blog as a landing page for my readers and a place for them to get to know me and my writing.

A quick update on the “epic” relaunch of my book. Over 18,000 people now have The Grandfather Clock and there was a couple of nice bumps in paid sales after the free promotion. Since then, people continue to buy and… just as important… leave very positive reviews. In fact, I got one 1 STAR review, entitled “BOO!” The person complained: “Finally realized that it is part of a series and that is not made clear up front.” I thanked them for their feedback and explained that the book stands alone, but that it’s part of a three book series. Two other people came to my defense and the reviewer upgraded me to 3 STARS. Of course, now it looks like people jumped all over this man or woman for a 3 star review.

My wife commented that she wouldn’t know how to handle bad reviews. She does a lot of group programming and takes the surveys people fill out to heart. She’s a perfectionist and everything she does is outstanding. I make up for not being a perfectionist by having a thick skin. I’m in sales. I make a lot of cold… frigidly cold… calls. The vast majority are uneventful, whether they end in a new account or not. But there have been a few over the years that have stood out:

One of the funniest was the guy whose only response was to hold up his hand and say, “No soliciting.” He said it twice and when I tried to leave a card he pointed at it and said, “That’s soliciting!” I had a product he used and couldn’t purchase in quantity anywhere else, so the bad news was that he was going to buy it. Two months later he sold the business and the new owners are a great new customer.

"What do you mean there's no soliciting?"

“What do you mean there’s no soliciting?”

One of my most frustrating accounts was a busy place that was poorly run. The manager liked to yell at people but he never tried it with me. He had difficulty grasping the concept of a calendar, so I decided he needed to be taught a lesson… buy on schedule or don’t get your delivery. He blew up. They literally started mixing different products to make something that they thought was something else. It was completely bizarre. When he tried to threaten to take his business elsewhere, I told him that it was his only option.

My all time favorite was when I was working with one my supplier reps, a young German guy, very likable with a great sense of humor. We were having a very good day, making lots of sales. We walked in to this guy’s shop and I extended my hand to introduce myself. His hand was 6 inches from mine on his computer mouse. It did not move. I talked to him for what had to be a full minute, with my hand extended. He never shook it. It was a short conversation to say the least. Literally thousands of calls over nearly a decade, and I’ve had maybe 5 bad experiences. People are usually so nice, it’s amusing when they aren’t. My colleague and I still laugh about that guy who refused to shake my hand. Hell, we might even go back and see what happens the second time. Maybe I’ll bring cookies.

These are long days lately. The morning is madness getting two little ones going in the right direction, work all day with the phone constantly beckoning, and then back to the madness of two hellions in the evening. I write from about 10:30 to midnight and literally fall asleep writing. I’ve found entire paragraphs of mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm where I’ve passed out with my hands on the keys. The followup to The Grandfather Clock is on schedule for a summer release. Stay tuned!


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“Your Main Character Is A Stupid Arrogant Ass”



“I got a great name for our kids. A real original. You wanna hear what it is? Huh, you ready?… ‘Seven.’ – George Costanza, Seinfeld

Creating characters is easy. Sometimes liking them is hard. Sometimes remembering them is harder. Naming them? Well, I thought that was easy. Let me introduce you to the Scrivener “Name Generator.” Scrivener is an amazing piece of word processing software geared towards writing novels, developing characters and setting and keeping it all organized. So I forgive them if their Name Generator is a little suspect. Let me show you a few random results:

American Male: Daijon Norman, Maddix Koch, Xabiere Mccormick, Javin Castillo

I can’t tell you how many times it spit back Daijon like it was a biblical name.

Irish Female: Seosaimhthin Hennessy, Caoilfhionn Boylan, Gobinet Costello

I’ll stick with Kate and Erin. These are some HARD CORE Irish names.

French Female: Mistique Zenon and Delight Arabie

It’s actually a pretty good French Stripper Name Generator.

Another challenge is getting my characters in trouble so they can get out of trouble. Since I’m the omniscient author, I need to create challenges and know how they will be fixed. Sometimes, that means my character has to make a bad choice. Sometimes that backfires. Actual note from my manuscript:

Protagonist (thinking to himself): Had I been quiet when I entered the second floor?

My editor’s note: “No. He’d been a total dipshit and called out “Hola” like he was there with a six pack and a pizza.”

Turns out, in my first draft, my main character wasn’t always the smartest guy in the room, even when he was alone. He had a tendency to over-share key information, and trust people randomly. Pretty much your average dude, right? Luckily, my editor is a brilliant human of the female race, and she helped my protagonist get in touch with his feminine side. It raised his IQ 20 points and he’s looking at grad schools now.

The point of all this is that good characters take development, but first I had to put them on paper and make them start doing things before I could learn all of their shortcomings. My most interesting character, well, she’s getting more interesting. The boring ones? They’re in danger of landing on the cutting room floor. So, friends, if you think you’re in my book, you aren’t. If you don’t see yourself, I assure you it’s not because you’re boring.

My email address is jkilewrites@gmail.comThe Grandfather Clock will be out on Amazon in late 2014, unless Apple likes it so much that they offer me $100 million to put it on everyone’s iPad without asking them.

Next up, Part IV: It’s all back together in one piece. But I have no idea what these extra parts are for.