Book Promotion Tips for Introverts

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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?

 

 


How to Help Readers Discover Your Book

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InsecureWritersSupportGroup

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and you know what that means: another installment of the Insecure Writers Support Group! And today marks the one year anniversary of the IWSG website. Has the time flown by or what???

The cohosts for this month are Kristin Smith, Elsie, Suzanne Furness, and Fundy Blue. Make sure you stop by their blogs and say hello!

 

I recently ran across the blog of an author who was having trouble marketing her book. In her blog post, she said something along the lines of, “I don’t do much marketing. I kind of just put the book out there, don’t publicize it, write something else, and then say to myself ‘I’ll do better next time.’”

I thought about that for a while. Though I’m no psychologist, something tells me that this author is purposefully sabotaging herself. Hey, it happens. We don’t want to finish our novel so we clean the dishes instead. We’re afraid of what our beta readers are going to think, so we lollygag on that last chapter longer than necessary, or go back to the beginning, obsessing over every little word, never really finishing the darn thing because we’re afraid of being judged.

Or, we’ll have a perfectly fine novel but we don’t do our due diligence at marketing ourselves.

“But, Quanie,” you say, “I’m no marketing expert! All I want to do is write and I don’t have a budget to hire somebody! So you see, it’s really not my fault that nobody, not even my closest friends, knows about my novel!”

Yes, it is, and I’ll tell you why: your writing career is your responsibility. I’m assuming that if you wrote a novel, you wrote the best novel you could possibly write, so you owe it to yourself and your potential fans to get the word out about your story. And besides, who says you need a huge marketing budget to promote your novel? Does it help? Sure. Is it necessary? Absolutely not.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Pick your poison: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest. Pick one (or two), learn how to maximize it, and start networking. Avoid overloading on the “buy my book” posts/tweets like the plague and start making genuine connections. Help other authors promote their books and you’ll be surprised how quickly others will be willing to return the favor for you.
  2. Start blogging. Yes, I know. You don’t want to blog, and you can name a ton of successful authors who don’t touch the stuff, but this is a great way to connect with other authors, readers, and reviewers. Whatever it is you’re going to blog about, make sure the content is interesting enough to draw readers in and make them want to share the content.
  3. Get on Goodreads. Yesterday. Join some of the review groups and offer some free copies of your book in exchange for a review.
  4. Organize a blog tour. If you don’t have the time or plain ole just don’t feel like doing it yourself, hire someone to do it.
  5. Guest post on another author’s blog to reach readers outside of your normal circle.
  6. Tell people you wrote a book. Yes, I know: for some reason you’re treating your novel like it’s the world’s best kept secret, but people can’t buy a book that they don’t know exists. Besides, once your family/friends/coworkers realize you wrote a book they’ll probably be impressed and will tell everyone that they know a real life published author. And there is nothing like free, word of mouth marketing.
  7. Get some bookmarks and business cards made with your book cover and your social media info. And don’t be shy to casually mention you wrote a book! The conversation might go something like this:
    “It looks like it’s going to rain.”
    “Oh? Did I tell you I wrote a book?” Bam: hand out the bookmark. Easy peazy.
  8. If you have a physical copy of your book, leave a few copies with your hair stylist. If she double books like the stylists I know, her clients will be there until kingdom come: why not help them discover your book while they wait? It also wouldn’t hurt to ask the stylist if you could leave a few bookmarks on her workstation. It’s worth a shot!
  9. Make a book cover flyer with your social media info and buy links and post them at local coffee shops.
  10. Got some wiggle room in your marketing budget? You might want to consider paid advertisement (Goodreads, Bookbub, etc).

There are many ways to market a novel, and if you’ve taken the time to write the best book you can possibly write, why not do everything you can to promote yourself? Is there a chance that you could publish your novel and, with little to no marketing, experience J.K. Rowling like success? Sure, but it’s highly unlikely since most authors have to be diligent about helping readers discover their books. If you’re serious about your writing, you’ll be willing to put in the work it takes to have a stellar career, because after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither is an author’s platform.

What about others? What marketing strategies do you find work best? Which do you find are a complete waste of time? Which social media outlets have you found most beneficial? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Insecure_Cover

This is my entry for the IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond.  I give permission for this entry to be included in the anthology.
Title: How to Help Readers Discover Your Book
Topic: Marketing
Bio: Quanie Miller writes paranormal novels and romantic comedies. You can catch up with her at quanietalkswriting.com.