Let's face it, none of us would do book marketing if we could find someone else to do it for us in an effective and reasonably-priced manner!
But the reality of the author life is that you will have to market your book/s, however you choose to publish. In today's article, Belinda Griffin examines how to change your mindset and embrace marketing as part of the creative journey.
Have you ever sat at your computer paralysed by fear as you agonise over what to say in a 280-character tweet?
It’s ridiculous, you’ve written an entire series of novels, you have a great flair for writing, but this tweet, this tiny message to the world… it’s impossible!
You’re not alone. I’ve suffered from this myself and spoken to plenty of other writers who feel the same. You’re not crazy, or stupid, or anything else you may have called yourself. There is, in fact, a very reasonable explanation for your struggle.
Why authors resist book promotion
The truth is many, if not most, authors are introverts. Being an introvert isn’t the same as being shy, but some authors are crippled by shyness too.
According to the website Introvert, Dear, the definition of an introvert is, “someone who prefers calm, minimally stimulating environments. Introverts tend to feel drained after socializing and regain their energy by spending time alone.”
I can relate to that.
It makes complete sense that introverts would enjoy writing, being alone with their stories and characters, and also that writers would be introverts. It’s a perfect match.
But what about when it comes time to market those stories? What happens when an introvert, or somebody crippled by shyness, has to promote themselves and their work?
Joanna has talked a great deal about the problem of self-doubt and imposter syndrome and I find this quote from her book The Successful Author Mindset particularly reassuring:
“Embrace self-doubt as part of the creative process. Be encouraged by the fact that virtually all other creatives, including your writing heroes, feel it too with every book they write.”
Self-doubt can sabotage a writing career before it even begins if you allow it to stop you from writing or hitting publish. But quite often it is possible to swallow your fear long enough to get a book written and up for sale.
The real problems start afterwards when an author realises that they will need to market their book if it is to be successful.
That means being active on social media, blogging, sending emails. All of which is bad enough for many, but then there are live speaking engagements, YouTube videos and podcasts. Oh, my!
It means being more visible than you have ever been in your life.
Book marketing jars with who you are.
Back to that tweet. The real reason why it is so hard to write it is not that you can’t think of the words, it's that you can think of too many words!
The problem is you’re over-analysing exactly how it will sound – too serious, too boring, will people understand the humour? Do you sound witty and intelligent or smug? Should you use this hashtag or that one?
In short, you’re wondering how you will be judged.
You’re putting yourself out there in a way that isn’t natural to you and it’s darn scary.
Plus, you really don’t enjoy small talk or unnecessary conversation, so why would you want to contribute to the banal conversation that takes place online? The same goes for email – you hate being bombarded with messages, so why would you want to inflict them on others?
Growing a following, an author platform, feels completely alien when in real life you only like to socialise with a select few people. You’ve certainly never pictured yourself as the leader of a tribe.
Everything about book marketing and promotion seems to jar with who you are as a writer.
But it doesn’t have to.
Make meaningful connections
It’s easy to think that you need to be a bold extrovert to market a book, but that isn’t true. Introverts are actually very well equipped to make meaningful connections, and those are important in marketing.
Book marketing isn’t about who can shout the loudest. My definition of book marketing is this:
“Book marketing is about getting to know readers, listening to what they want and satisfying their desires.”
As an introvert, I’ll bet you can be a great listener.
When you set about marketing your book you can expect a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute you’ll be terrified of being seen or heard, the next you’ll be desperate for some attention.
Afterall, you may be shy or introverted, but you still have hopes and dreams. You still have big goals for yourself.
You want to get your book in the hands of readers or you wouldn’t have written and published it, and you quite reasonably want to make a living from your writing. For that to happen, people need to know about your book.
Never will you feel so pulled in two directions – wanting to be both visible and invisible – as when you are marketing a book.
Commit to expanding your comfort zone
So, what is an introverted author to do?
Firstly, learn what book marketing really is. It’s about building relationships with readers as well as other authors and bloggers who can help you promote your book.
It’s about offering value before inviting someone to join your email list and from there continuing to develop the relationship.
Marketing, at its core, is all about know, like and trust.
You don’t need to be clever or witty or anything other than you.
It can be difficult at first to show who you are, but you can begin with baby steps. Start by sharing other people’s content on social media until you are ready to say something of your own. That’s always the best way to start anyway.
It is possible for introverts to shine on social media if you plan your content and make sure your activity is meaningful.
Commit to expanding your comfort zone. Experiment with what feels comfortable and don’t feel obliged to do too much too soon.
Make a plan for your marketing activity. Think about what you’re prepared to do and what you’re not.
- What are you prepared to share of yourself?
- What is off limits?
If you decide to start a blog, have a plan for it. Experiment to find out what you enjoy blogging about.
Think about what excites you that you can share with others. This could be what you are learning about the writing process, or what you are learning about for your writing – your research, for example.
As you grow in confidence, perhaps you will decide to podcast or vlog or give a book talk.
Few authors start doing these things right out of the gate. Firstly, you will get burned out if you take on too much in one go, but secondly, you need to be kind to yourself.
Stretch that comfort zone slowly and steadily. If you try to do too much too fast, there’s a good chance things won’t go well and you’ll take two steps back.
Practice saying ‘yes’
Practice saying ‘yes’ to opportunities that come up, instead of instinctively saying ‘no’.
If you get invited to do a talk or a signing, it’s natural to feel like you want to run screaming in the opposite direction, but this could be an amazing opportunity for your books that won’t come up again unless you say yes.
If you say yes, who knows what other opportunities it may lead to?
It’s important to understand that expanding your comfort zone is an ongoing process. Every time you achieve a new level of success or do something you haven’t done before, there will be a new boundary to overcome.
You will need to keep pushing that boundary. But if you have done it once, you can do it again.
Wherever you are on your journey, take a moment to look back to see how far you’ve come. Congratulate yourself on your achievements so far, as that will make it easier when you look forward and see the next challenge coming up.
Find your motivation
We may be introverts, we may be quiet and shy and like nothing more than to hide from the world with a good book, but if we want to give our books the best chance of success, and if we want to reach the goals we set for ourselves as writers, we need to roll up our sleeves and commit to taking action, to being visible and stretching that comfort zone.
One of the ways we can do this is to keep our big ‘why’ front and centre. What is it that motivates you to keep going when you’d rather run the other way? What are you doing all this for?
When your ‘why’ is bigger than your fears, when the fear of not achieving what you’re striving for is greater than the fear of being visible, that’s when you’ll be able to tackle anything.
Do you feel challenged by the idea of marketing your books? Please leave your thoughts below and join the conversation.
Belinda Griffin is a Book Marketing Success Coach teaching indie authors how to make their ideal readers fall in love with them with effective marketing so that they can confidently achieve much greater exposure and sales without experiencing overwhelm. Belinda runs SmartAuthorsLab where authors embrace experimentation, to see what works for them.
Grab your FREE guide: How to get your book noticed with fantastic results! & follow Belinda on Twitter @SmartAuthors.
Julie Cordiner says
I wouldn’t describe myself as an introvert – I speak at national conferences and feel energised afterwards, and I don’t have any problem talking to strangers at events. But the thought of marketing makes me want to curl up in a ball!
So for me it feels like my problem is a different one, but i can’t quite pinpoint it. I suppose it’s the thought of pushing my books under someone’s nose as if I have the right to tell them what to read that puts me off.
Yet I write non fiction, which is of real practical benefit in a niche market – helping school leaders manage their budgets. I don’t know why I feel this way nor how to shake it off and learn to enjoy it a bit more! How can I stop feeling so down about it?
Joanna Penn says
I agree that it’s not introversion as such around marketing – but more of a mindset shift that’s needed.
Marketing is not “pushing my books under someone’s nose” – it’s sharing what you love with people who WANT to hear about it!
Which is why I favour attraction forms of marketing like blogging, podcasting, sharing useful stuff on twitter etc – so focus on being useful and you will attract people. That’s certainly how I have built my business over the last 10 years!
Julie Cordiner says
Thanks Joanna – inspired by you, attraction marketing is exactly what I do. I have a blog, a regular newsletter, and I’m active on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn which I’ve found are the best media to engage in for my non fiction. I have a small number of very interested and involved contacts; it just seems to take a long time to get any wider traction or engagement. I’m careful not to behave like some authors who only ever do ‘buy my book’ Tweets! But it still feels like a chore and something that eats into my writing time because I’m not skilled enough to do it efficiently and effectively.
First time I read the headline, I asked, “Why is Joanna trying to teach people to market ‘hate books’?
Joanna Penn says
Glad you re-read it 🙂
Deanie Humphrys-Dunne says
I definitely fit in to the introverted category and have always found marketing difficult, but at least I’ve made some progress. Thanks for sharing your insightful tips.
Val Tobin says
I’m an introvert and am terrified before any talk I give (both of them). I forced myself to say “yes,” enjoyed myself during the event, and loved having done it. The anxiety before the event is staggering, though. I’d much rather be ensconced in my office writing.
Most of the time, where marketing is concerned, it feels to me like I have one foot on the gas and the other on the brake. Baby steps are good, but is there anything smaller than that? Paw steps, maybe?