I’ve been introverted all my life, although friends who know me well don’t believe it. But it’s true. I don’t like going to parties where I don’t recognize people, although once I’m there, I do tend to have fun.
But the thought of being in a room of people I don’t know can, at times, inhibit me from going out. Even being in a room of people where I’ll know a few people can be intimidating.
Do you ever feel the same way?
If you’re a writer, you probably understand how I feel since most writers tend to be introverts. How else can we bear to spend hours by ourselves writing? We enjoy our own company, or at least the company of our fictional characters.
Many years ago I held a job that forced me to become less introverted. As the development director of a large nonprofit, I had to talk with all the donors and their guests for an evening of fundraising. After a few sips of champagne, I was usually able to step into a crowd of people and greet them and make sure they enjoyed their evening.
Even though I appeared outgoing for the night, the next day I would stay at home and read a book. Introverts get energized by being alone whereas extroverts get energized by being with people.
But I digress.
As a child, my introverted nature served me well.
- I always won spelling bees (because I read a lot).
- My writing (and reading) skills surpassed those of my sister, who was three years older.
- I excelled at school.
But as I grew up, being introverted made life more difficult for me.
- I had difficulty making new friends.
- In college, I would rather read and study than face a room filled with people I didn’t know at a party.
There have been other benefits and disadvantages to being introverted as well but, I share these to make a point: Being introverted may cause you to feel uncomfortable at times but, it’s also an asset. How else would you finish your books?
As a writer, you need to break out of your introverted nature enough so that you can market the books you spend so much time in solitude writing and perfecting.
In my case, I stuttered as a child, which probably pushed me further up the introverted spectrum. But by the time I reached high school and entered the workforce, my stuttering was behind me.
My career as a journalist forced me to talk with new people all the time, and that in turn made social situations more comfortable. By the time I published my first book, I wasn’t an extrovert, but I was more comfortable pretending to be an extrovert when needed.
This is exactly what you need to do. When appropriate, such as at book readings and signings and when appearing as a guest at book club gatherings, relax and don’t worry about what you’ll say. Let your words flow as you pretend that your closest friends surround you.
There have been studies that indicate that social media is good for introverts because it enables people who love to stay at home get out into the world – even if it’s a virtual experience – and meet and interact with new people every day.
There is a caveat to this. Pretending to be an extrovert should not be interpreted as an excuse for constantly promoting your books on social media. Instead, it’s an invitation to form relationships with writers and readers worldwide and support each other in promoting what you write.
11 Exercises for Introverted Writers
These exercises are for writers working on their marketing platform.
- If you haven’t yet done so, start a Facebook profile and connect with friends and colleagues in your life. If you already have a profile, consider setting up a Facebook author page where readers can get to know you. Once the page is set up, consider writing a status update on your profile that says, “Hey, I just started a Facebook page where I’ll be discussing my new book and other topics. I would love it if you would take a peek, tell me how I can improve it, and give it a “like.” If you feel brave, you could add this line, “I would be thrilled if you would then recommend it to just one other friend. Thanks!” On your Facebook page, occasionally boost a post with Facebook advertising, and run a contest annually offering a $20 gift certificate to a local bookstore as a prize or a gift certificate to Amazon. Check out this post on eight ways to grow your Facebook author page.
- Start a Twitter account and start following 20 to 50 new readers every day. Use an application such as Tweepi or ManageFlitter to help you find new followers or simply go to Twitter, find a Twitter profile by an author in your genre, and follow that person’s followers. Or use hashtags (#amreading, #bookworm, #bibliophile, #novel, #memoir, #shortstory, #suspense, etc.) on Twitter to find people who love to read your genre. Reply to people’s comments, ask questions, thank people for retweeting, and retweet your staunchest supporters and retweeters. To see a list of 45 Twitter hashtags for authors, see this list.
- If you write nonfiction, go to your LinkedIn profile – or start one if you aren’t yet on LinkedIn – and send a personalized request to connect with everyone you’ve ever worked with. As LinkedIn sends you suggestions for new connections, follow up. Your message can say, “I know it’s been awhile since we last spoke but I would like to reconnect on this platform and keep up with your career.” Join a couple of groups and join in the conversation. To learn more about LinkedIn, read this post.
- Start using Pinterest and create pinboards that reflect your books and interests. Also, create a pinboard of your favorite books and include your colleagues’ books. You could also start a pinboard for the various genres you like to read and include your friends’ best picks. Start pinboards that reflect your characters’ clothing, the food they enjoy, the cities where they travel. You can also start pinboards on bookcases, bookstores, libraries, and reading quotes. Read this post for 57 pinboard suggestions for authors. Also, be sure to pin images from your website to designated pinboards, such as a pinboard for your blog post images.
- Start a newsletter and collect names on your website by including a signup form and a giveaway. If you write fiction, your giveaway can be a short story or novella. If you write nonfiction, your giveaway can be a tips list or a PDF on a topic related to what you write about. On my website, I offer a free email course. Once people sign up for your newsletter, write to them monthly. Offer giveaways, provide news on new books and offer coupons for your books. Find out what your readers most want to hear about from you and write that. You can determine their interests by conducting a survey or leaving a question at the end of a newsletter or blog post. Just get to know your readers as best you can and provide the best information you can for them.
- Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media networks. Similar to Pinterest, it relies on visuals. There is so much you can do with Instagram: show your readers where you write and go for coffee; show them your garden; share quotes; share images from your day; take a picture of a stack of books waiting for you to read them. Just connect with your readers, friends, and colleagues in the same way you’d like them to connect and get to know you. To learn more about Instagram, read this post.
- Start a Goodreads profile. Be sure to list books as you read them and provide reviews. Similar to LinkedIn, join groups and add your blog posts regularly. To learn more about Goodreads, check out this ebook I wrote.
- Use images in all of your posts, not just on Pinterest and Instagram. Visuals attract the eye and sometimes the “ah.” Also, people prefer images over text since the brain can process pictures 60,000 times faster than text. To learn more about the importance of visuals in your social media marketing, read this post.
- Talk about issues that you care about. I love dogs and on my Facebook profile that tends to be what I talk about at times. I also like to post images with quotes. Find out what you like to talk about and post and do that to start a conversation on a topic near to your heart.
- When you approach social media, keep it positive. If someone says something negative to you, ignore that person. There are hundreds of more people who will be nice to you so focus on them.
- If using social media every day is too much for you, take time off. Use applications such as Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule your updates for the week. Just make sure that you post something every day and spend at least 15 minutes socializing.
In short, reach out, try to exceed your comfort level, and become comfortable with conversing with new people from around the world. You’ll be amazed at the magic that can happen when you step out into the virtual world.
Author of this blog: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference. In addition, she’s a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com, and blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks. She’s written several social media books including the 2nd edition of Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for my free email course.
Practical tips for marketing your books on the social web