Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Marketing and the Shy Person

How does a shy person tackle this thing called self-promotion?

We don’t.

An old joke tells of how to distinguish a truly shy person from a run-of-the-mill introvert: the introvert may look at your shoes when talking to you, while a truly shy person looks at his own shoes. That’s about how high they dare to fix their gaze.

Writers who wish to publish must sell themselves at every stage. First, the why you (the publisher) should take my story. Then- the why the market (virtual or brick and mortar) should pay any attention. Finally- the why you (the reader) should read it. There is no hiding behind a well-oiled marketing department. Even the largest publishers expect all but their A-listers to self-promote. With smaller publishers this is even more so. And if writers go the self-publishing route, they must become promotion machines. Highly *not* recommended for shy people.

Some shy-types have found that the social sites allow them to have friends or followers in the thousands, and they never have to look at anyone’s shoes. {If you are one of mine, know that I appreciate each and every one.} But let’s be honest about this: these are not friendships. Real friends give their time and attention and real friendships require no less from us. The most socially gregarious person I have ever met has less than a hundred real friends. I’m in awe of this level of connectedness, and can attest to said person being very busy maintaining those close connections.

Chat boards allow a shy person to put the word out. But generally this is where the word stops, and there is stays.

The other day I had what to me felt like an epiphany. I put forth what I believe is a mighty good offering. Initially it’s called a manuscript, and when published it’s called a book. That’s what I owe the world, and the world, in return, owes me nothing.

The pressure keg of how to make my offering be noticed by someone, anybody out there, suddenly dissipated. I’ll continue to offer my best, and come what may- I’ve done it right.

Oh, and will you please check out my book? I think you’ll like it. {Blush.}

I just noticed my shoes need some polishing.


  1. I think the internet does help the shy person. I don't know whether most writers are shy, but certainly, I need my own quiet space to think and write, and socializing can be draining. But the nice thing about the net is that I can socialize when I can ... and although nothing compares to a friend in the flesh, I've been very happy to make online friends. Some I've even gotten to meet, so it's been so nice.

    I can't imagine doing social networking just to promote a book. I think the relationship comes first, and then the plea to "buy my book."

    Do you know how hard it is for me to be on deadline right now? My eyes are fried and my kids are driving me crazy.

    I like what you said -- the world owes you nothing. So true. Everything is grace.

    1. "Everything is grace."
      I think this way more and more all the time. The worldly notions that effort + persistence = success don't match with what I see happening, especially to others. I know this is the ethos of our time, but while there’s something to it I don’t buy it as a whole.

  2. Great post! Also, just watched your book trailer. The Voice of Thunder looks absolutely gripping!

  3. I've found the older I get the less shy I am. But I agree that social media gives shy writers a chance to put themselves out there.

    1. I was much less shy as a kid. I seem to be growing more so all the time. I like your way much better, Kelly.

  4. I love that online promo is available today, but I agree that you need to make connections and "be a person" first. On Twitter, especially, you can tell who's on there simply to promote their book and who's on there to add to the community. The latter takes more work; real self-promo isn't just about "Look at me!" but it's about relationships first -- perhaps relationships that are unique to online-only contact, but relationships nevertheless.

  5. As a shy person myself, the idea of self promotion terrifies me. But that doesn't make me love writing any less. And I hope that some day, like you, I will make my offering, and it will be enough.

  6. Hi Mirka, I'm not especially shy, but I tend to be technologically inept. PowerPoint presentations make me what to break out in a sweat! I think we all have our strengths and weaknesses.