So I’m an introvert. I’m also a writer, so big surprise, right? Well, when you’re a published writer who needs to promote herself to sell books, being an introvert can kinda sorta get in the way. I’m generally okay with promoting myself online, but there are times when my introversion gets in the way of that. I’m often hesitant to jump into discussions on Twitter or Facebook–even in instances where I have an opinion on a matter–because I don’t want all eyes on me. Crazy, right?
And guess what? I didn’t always know I was an introvert. Way back in the day when the teacher called on someone to answer a question (and no one responded), beads of sweat would pop up on my forehead and I’d sink as low in my seat as possible, praying she wouldn’t call on me. And having to “go around the room and introduce ourselves?” Oh, Lord! It’s like walking the plank for me! My mind goes blank and instead of listening to the other introductions, I sit there dreading the moment when it’s my turn. When I released my last book, I had every excuse for why I couldn’t have a launch party. Or do a reading at a bookstore. “I’ll get around to it eventually,” I told myself. And once so much time passed that my book couldn’t be considered a “new release,” I said, “No worries. You’ll get ’em next time.” But I never knew why I dreaded the spotlight so much until I bumped into a few articles lately about introverts. I thought, “So…I’m not just sabotaging myself? This is like, a thing?”
Yes, it’s a thing.
But as a published author, it’s a thing I have to manage if I want to promote myself online and locally. I vowed that with my next release, I would do my due diligence at promoting myself. But in all honesty, the idea of doing a reading–and having a Q&A session afterwards–sort of frightens me. And being Ms. Social Butterfly on social media? Gulp.
I realize that in order to promote myself effectively, I’m going to have to get outside my comfort zone a bit. And I’m okay with that–in baby steps. To all my author brethren who are also introverts: here are some ways I think we can market our books without putting ourselves in situations that we will likely dread–and run from.
1.Take the Focus off Yourself.
One of the reasons I’ve been dreading doing a book launch or a reading is because I don’t like being the center of attention. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind answering questions about my book with people one-on-one, but the idea of sitting in a room with all eyes on yours truly? No bueno for Quan-Dizzle. So instead, I plan to make my main characters the star of the show by creating some games based on my book and maybe even having some local actors do a dramatic reading–among other ideas. That way, I don’t have to be the center of attention and will be able to actually enjoy my launch–and hopefully sell some books in the process.
2. Get a Street Team (Virtual or Online)
Street teams were all the rage back in the day. Record companies used them to sell records and I’ve seen them pop up in the book industry as well.
A street team is a term used in marketing to describe a group of people who ‘hit the streets’ promoting an event or a product. (Wikipedia)
Got some friends and family who are enthusiastic about your book? Why not ask them to help you promote? I definitely plan to use a street team this time around. Here’s an article on the subject: http://www.iuniverse.com/Resources/Book-Marketing-Self-Promotion/6StepstoBuildaStreetTeam.aspx
3. Book a Vendor Table
“Vendor table? I thought you said these were tips for introverts? What’s next, Quanie? Facebook live karaoke?” But before you ban me from the family picnic, hear me out: last year, my husband and I participated in a local business expo. We were there selling our homemade pralines, and across the aisle from us was a local author. Until then, I hadn’t considered participating in a business expo as an author, but why not? Writing and publishing books is a business, right? Tons of people attend these types of events and they’re actually pretty informal. They’re not an author-in-fishbowl type of situation, and that’s why I suggest them. Most people will browse your table, pick up your book, and say something along the lines of, “Wait–you wrote this book?” And you can proudly say, “Yes. I did.” This is a great opportunity to meet and talk to potential new readers one-on-one. And if you’re not great at talking about your work, why not bring an extroverted friend?
4. Get Help
There’s a lot of book publicity information out there, and most of it can be hard to navigate. So much has changed since I released my last book. At an event I attended last year, someone asked me if I was on Periscope. “Perry who???” I asked. Apparently, all the kids are doing it.
There’s so much information out there that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and then do nothing. But we can’t give up! There are some Facebook groups that are a true Godsend to authors. See Ya On The Net Promotion Group and For Love or Money are two of the most helpful groups I’ve found online that focus on showing authors how to gain visibility. From what I’ve seen, the authors in these groups are really helpful and don’t mind sharing what promotion methods have worked for them.
And if participating in social media groups isn’t your cup of tea, it might be worth it to hire someone to do your social media marketing for you. There are many options available depending on your budget: blog tour companies, author assistants, social media managers, etc. But before you take this route, be cautious. Scammers are a-plenty, so make sure you do your research and if you can, get referrals.
5. Be Authentic
Networking has gotten such a bum rap these days. I think it’s mainly because of those people who invite you over to their house and then, ” You thought you were coming for tea, eh? Gotcha! I really wanted to tell you about my multilevel marketing business.” And while you grab your purse and run, they show up just as you’ve made it to your car, winded and talking about, “Before you go, can you name at least fifteen other people who might be interested?”
Writers are in the same boat; someone follows you on Twitter and the moment you follow them back, you get a DM telling you to buy their book. Folks have gotten so busy “promoting their brands” that they have forgotten how to actually connect with people. Check out this interesting tid bit from a Huff Post article:
Networking (read: small-talk with the end goal of advancing your career) can feel particularly disingenuous for introverts, who crave authenticity in their interactions.
Instead of “buy my book,” how about, “Hey, I see you’re in (insert city). My husband’s family is from there! I hear the weather’s nice this time of year. Anyway, just wanted to say hello. Look forward to reading your Tweets!”
If I got something like that–someone actually just saying hello because it’s a nice thing to do–as opposed to sending me the buy link for their book, you know what I’d do? At the very minimum, I’d look for their book and maybe even Tweet about it or share it in other places. Have we changed the world? No, but that’s how true connections are made, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters to me. So that’s how I approach “networking.” It may not be the quickest way to best-sellerdom but at the end of the day, I’m alright with myself.
What about others? Any fellow introverts out there? How are you promoting your books?