Two recent emails I’ve received from readers:
“This advice seems geared toward extroverts/people persons, but many writers are introverts who find it hard to reach out to people and who, thus, suck at marketing. [It is] easy for extroverts, and painful or even next-to-impossible for introverts. Is there any hope for introverts like me who just want to write our books?”
And the other:
“Marketing seems to come easy for authors like you but I just don’t think an introvert like me can do it.”
If only people knew.
Put me in a room of more than two strangers and I’m the guy standing against the wall looking at my phone and feeling like everyone can sense the anxiety rolling off of me.
After I did an all-day workshop a few months ago, I literally found a corner in the office building where I could hide behind a couch and just sat there so I could be alone.
Newsflash: Authors, as a group, are introverted
Isn’t that why most of us pick this profession? It allows us to sit alone with our thoughts for hours on end. It’s the perfect situation for an introvert!
Here’s the truth though.
Don’t let your introversion become your excuse
It’s often a lot easier to blame something like being introverted instead of taking responsibility for our success. Yes, you may have to learn some new skills and yes, that will be uncomfortable. But it’s part of the job. And I promise you, if you stick with it, it will become something you truly enjoy in the long run.
We all have hurts, habits and hangups that hold us back. One of yours, like it is for me, is being introverted. That doesn’t mean we throw up our hands in defeat. It means we lean into it, and learn how to be successful through it.
How introverts can be good at marketing
The key to success as an author is to change your perspective of what it means to be good at marketing. It’s not a used car salesman mentality. It’s a 1-on–1 helpful mentality.
1. Understand the true definition of marketing. The following is an excerpt from my book, Your First 1000 Copies:
Let’s sum up what marketing is and should be.
Marketing isn’t sleazy car salesman tactics.
Marketing isn’t tricking people into buying.
Marketing isn’t unethical.
Marketing isn’t intrusive self-promotion.
Marketing is two things: (1) creating lasting connections with people through (2) a focus on being relentlessly helpful.
Does that seem so bad?
Once you change your perspective from “marketing is tricking people into buying something they don’t want” to “marketing is helping people connect with my meaningful work”, it takes on an entirely different tone.
2. Focus on one person. I used to go months without writing anything for my platform. No blog posts. No emails. Nothing. I was so caught up in my head about people judging my work, that it wasn’t good enough, and people smarter than me were already writing about this stuff. Even when my readership was extremely small, it still seemed overwhelming.
However, when I got on the phone with an author who was struggling, I would light up and truly enjoy helping.
One day it clicked. When I’m helping one author, it comes easy. When I’m trying to help hundreds or thousands, the sweaty palms happen and I clam up.
So I picked one of my clients who needed my help the most, printed off her picture and taped it to the wall next to my computer. Then, when I would sit down to write, I’d focus on writing something that helped her. I’d forget about the part where I’m going to share it with thousands of authors later. While I wrote, I only wrote for her.
3. Go slow. This is a long-term game. I want my book to continue to sell month-after-month and year-after-year. Don’t put pressure on yourself to make everything happen now. This week. This month. Give yourself grace to play a long-term game. Have an experimental mindset. Do two things a week.
To invoke a cliché, this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Remove the pressure and give yourself permission to find your pace.
4. Find what you enjoy. Here’s the truth: I can talk about books for hours. Both reading and marketing them. While I enjoy writing these blog posts, the writing part is pretty laborious on me so I try to dodge doing a lot of guest blogging on other websites. However, I love doing podcasts and webinars because I really enjoy talking about books. So any opportunities I get that involve me sitting comfortable in my office while talking on the phone with someone about books, I jump at.
I’ve tried many different ways to do outreach, and this is what works for me. I’ve found what I enjoy, so I pursue more opportunities in that vein. You can do the same.
5. Don’t wait for the fear to go away. I talk to a lot of aspiring writers. They all believe the same myth about writing. They believe that at some point the fear goes away. They assume the big best-selling authors confidently approach the blank page and scrawl out their words knowing the world will love them.
This, of course, is not true.
I’ve worked with those top, best-selling writers and I’ve worked with those just getting their first project off the ground. The fear is always there. It never goes away. In fact, they know if the fear is gone, they’re doing something wrong.
The good writers learn to lean into the fear instead of allowing it to keep them from writing.
The same is true for marketing.
It’s scary. Every time I write a new blog post I worry what people will think. Every time I do an interview I wonder if this will be the one where everyone realizes I’m a fraud.
But I do it anyway. Through practice and repetition I’ve learned to lean into the fear and accept it. It’s not something to beat. It’s not something that will ever completely leave. It’s part of the process.
And if it ever goes away, that means I’m doing something wrong.
Introverts can be great book marketers
Don’t believe the lie that your introversion means you’ll never be good at marketing. Just focus on connecting with and helping one person at a time. Experiment to find your pace and your sweet spot.
People need your writing. Don’t hide behind introversion.
February 20, 2014