The ONE thing shy authors need to know about marketing their books

Are you shy? Consider yourself introverted?

Shy author

What a great book! I loved this whole series as a kid.

This topic is particularly important to me because of my own story and experience. I’m a little hesitant (embarrassed) to share this with you, but hopefully it will resonate with some of you and my advice will be of use.

While I don’t exactly fall into the “shy camp” in most areas of my life, when it came to launching my book in March 2011, something VERY strange happened. I got butterflies. I got weirdly uncomfortable when people asked about the book. For a long time I considered using a pen name. I was SO shy about the whole thing.

I am more than happy to shout loud and proud about others’ books – including my husband’s which I’d just spent a year marketing loud and proud – but when it came to raving about my own book I just wanted to curl up and hide!

I knew it was a good book, I knew there was a demand for it, I’d had very positive feedback from my critique partners and beta readers, but that didn’t seem to help me to feel okay with promoting myself. Honestly, I bet 50% of my friends didn’t even know I’d written a book for the first 6 months it was out there. It was a horrible experience for me and one that I could never have predicted.

So what was I worried about? Well, here’s a SHORT list of things off the top of my head:

- That people would judge me as a result of the book’s content (bridal beauty, health & staying stress-free). That I would look like a wedding-obsessed bimbo!

- Negative reviews

- That there was a lot of “me” in the book, things I didn’t necessarily want friends and family to know about

- That people would judge me for self-publishing

- My writing.

 

My BIG Shift in Thinking – The One thing that changes everything.

These worries, thankfully, didn’t last. Long enough to do some damage (the first 6 months) but short enough for me to turn it around. So what happened?

When researching some tips on public speaking for a talk I was scheduled to give, I read this piece of advice. It occurred to me that it applies to every situation in life – including to authors promoting their books:

 

“Take the attention off yourself and focus on the gift you are giving other people.”

 

This was just the slap in the face I needed. The book wasn’t about me at all.

My book – and yours – is a gift! We wrote it for a reason, right? Because we thought that the story, message, delivery would resonate with someone. It would open their mind, teach them something, make them laugh, entertain them, take them away from their stressful life… or [insert your own reason here].

Image source: http://www.demotivation.us/books-1247061.html

What’s YOUR reason?

Whatever your reasons for writing your book were – and “shy” authors I suggest that you sit down and write a list – once you’ve cemented that reason, I’m telling you that it’s YOUR DUTY to get that book out there to as many people as possible. You’re doing someone else a favor with your book and writing.

My reason? I wrote the book because I wish I had it when I was getting married. I knew that I loved Brandon dearly but that didn’t prevent the fact that I was scared about tying the knot. As many brides who turn into bridezillas can attest, weddings are super stressful life events that can bring up a whole host of emotional issues and family drama. I wanted to put my experience on paper and let other brides know that those emotions are normal. Here is one email I got from a reader:

 

“Thank you SO much for writing this book. It really has altered my perspective and made me feel better about the stress and anxiety that I’m feeling. You were speaking to me in this book. A friend of mine sent me two other bride-to-be books but they’re just pages and pages of things to worry about, essentially, which frightens me off sitting down and reading them. I’ve a hard enough time dealing with anxiety as it is! Wow! Glowing Bride though, is perfect. Thank you again!”

Wasn’t I being kind of selfish worrying about how others viewed the book when it could have helped so many more? After a few emails like this I stopped caring about the potential negative reactions to the book and focused on the positive impact it had.

 

Give your book the chance it deserves 

You can’t just give birth to your book and then let it fend for itself! It needs a push and a big shove in the right direction… that is the direction of readers.

Here are my top 5 marketing tips for shy authors.

 

1. Change your shift in thinking. 

See above - Focus on the book and it’s message.

ACTION STEP – Go write down the reasons you wrote the book, what the message is, and how and why people will get value from it.

 

2. Take Advantage of the Internet

As Florida author Bob Tarte said in this interview with Jane Friedman:

“For me the introvert-extrovert thing doesn’t apply a whole lot to online activity. What’s more introverted than sitting alone in a room and typing with the shades down?”

ACTION STEP – Connect with readers all from behind the comfort of your computer in the following ways…

  • Book a blog tour.
  • Get social on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or Pinterest – choose 2 and focus your efforts there.
  • Blog regularly (at least once a week)
  • Start an eNewsletter to your database of readers and send it out consistently. I harp on about building an email list because I really do think it’s one of your biggest assets. Even after you think you are done promoting your book – you’ll want to be able to let your readers know when you publish your second, third (and thirtieth!)

 

3. Be helpful and generous with reviews and comments on blogs and forums.

I would actually argue that introverts have the advantage here since they are usually good listeners by nature. Offer up advice and answer questions, or leave thoughtful comments on blogposts and you’ll find that you’ll build your network easier than you could imagine. Sales come as a natural result.

ACTION STEP – Subscribe to your favorite book and writing blogs or join a few forums where your readers hang out. Commit to spending 15-20 minutes each weekday morning commenting while you enjoy your first coffee or some breakfast.

 

4. Keep a file or list of achievements close by!

In some cases introversion is a result of low self-confidence. As someone who considers them self part-introvert, part-extrovert I know that from experience I feel most introverted when I’m feeling down on myself. With personal experience in mind, I know that focussing on how far I’ve come, as well as the  positive feedback I’ve received (yup a little self-bragging) can certainly help me feel more outgoing and social. Print off your favorite review, email, or positive words from a reader or friend, and read it to remind yourself why you’re putting the book out there to people in the first place.

ACTION STEP – Go print out your brags and put them in a drawer near your desk (or on your wall if you’re feeling proud!)

 

5. Separate yourself from your work and your identity from your book.

This is easier said than done, especially when we know that using ourselves as part of the “brand” is so important in today’s publishing industry. But having a strong identity outside of your book and writing – that is, reminding yourself of your skills and positive strengths elsewhere in your life – will mean that the natural ups and downs of marketing your book won’t hit so hard and you’ll be more willing to take risks and put yourself out there.

ACTION STEP – Write out a list of 5 things you consider yourself good at outside of writing. Ask friends and family to contribute if you are drawing a blank.

 

How about you? Do you consider yourself shy or introverted? How has this affected your book marketing so far? I’d love to know what promotions you are comfortable with and what you avoid like the plague :). Leave a comment!



Laura Pepper Wu is the co-founder of 30 Day Books: a book studio. She has worked with a variety of authors to successfully promote their books, including many Amazon best-sellers. Laura is the author of wedding non-fiction guides and book marketing guides 77 Ways to Find New Readers for Your Self-Published Book and Fire Up Amazon!

Laura also runs Ladies Who Critique, a critique-partner finding site. When she's not working at the studio, you can find her walking her dog, "yoga-ing" or at a coffee shop in Seattle.

 

  • Melissa

    LOVED this post. Thank you for sharing. I had no idea you would feel anxious because you do such fantastic work – good to know the shyness can inflict the rest of us and that we can overcome it. Thanks for the great advice!

  • Martin

    Shouldn’t it be “take the attention OFF yourself” rather than “OF yourself”?

  • http://www.30daybooks.com 30 Day Books

    Yes indeed, thanks for catching that one Martin! :)

  • Liz

    Such a great post, thank you! As an introvert who isn’t exactly shy, I still clammed up whenever someone asked about my book (it once took 3 hours into a conversation for me to mention it to a friend and he was downright offended I hadn’t mentioned it before). Writing a book, no matter what genre or how long, is an admirable, very cool goal to succeed at–even though I worry about bad reviews or people judging my “indie” status, the impressed looks on their face when I say I’ve written a book is pretty cool. We are already a step ahead of the game when we accept that we have to tell people about our books :)

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  • http://www.hearingwellbeing.com Debbie Jeffrey

    I am going to focus on the book’s message. I’ve printed off a few complimentary posts and that does help. Thanks Laura. The books are needed. I’ve got three almost finished so it’s silly not to just finish them and send them to be edited. I found an Editor following one of your leads in another post, Laura . I am going to use all of this help to boost the confidence. Appreicated.