Here’s an email I received the other day:
“This is going to sound stupid to you perhaps, but Matt Scudder has made me a better salesman. I walk into a prospective client’s place of business now and don’t give two fucks if they like me or not, or, more importantly, what I think their impression is of me. I don’t Mickey Mouse around with them now. I tell them what I can do for them and they can take it or leave it. More people are taking. Makes me thankful for Scudder and I am only four books in.”
I have to admit I never thought of the Scudder books as sales tools, but my correspondent’s observation doesn’t by any means strike me as stupid. The fiction we read can find its way into the fabric of our lives, even as the events in our lives inform the fiction we write. Years ago I spun a whole Writers Digest column* out of an admonition in one of sales guru Zig Ziglar’s motivational books. If you were going to be an effective salesman of a line of quality cookware,
he advised, the best investment you could make would be to buy a set of those pots and pans for your own kitchen. I found a way to apply the principle to those of us who string words together in the hope that someone will pay to read them.
So I can certainly see how the attitude and sense of self that Matthew Scudder displays could rub off to good effect on a salesman. On the other hand, when it comes to getting a foot in the door in the first place, Bernie Rhodenbarr might supply a few tips.
But I don’t even want to speculate on how Keller might fit into the equation…
*That WD column appears in either Telling Lies for Fun & Profit or Spider, Spin Me a Web. If I had a little less on my plate today, I could check that out for you. IIRC, the chapter has the word cookware in its title.
UPDATE: As it turns out, the column’s entitled “An Investment in Pots and Pans.” It’s Chapter 28 in Spider, Spin Me a Web.