At the beginning of a week I go over my calendar to see if I have any “events” (read promotions) coming up. If so, I initiate a mental self-speak of: next week this time it will all be over, or, at least it’s not far to drive; or, maybe Oprah will pick it up and I will never have to do this again.
That’s why they call it fiction.
But the fact is, we are writers because we want people to read our books. People can’t read our books unless they know we’ve written one. They won’t know we’ve written one unless we tell them why they need to read our book. And unless we only want to reach one person at a time (as in conversation), we must reach out to the universe of readers in the most expansive and effective ways possible.
Yep, it’s the internet.
But not the way you think.
Readers want to connect with authors through our writing or through who we are. Think one-on-one relationship, and the best way to do that is through social media. For instance, an engaging website, blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, are key access points for readers to connect with writers. That doesn’t mean that book store signings, panel presentations, or creative commercial outreach won’t work—they absolutely will, but it’s limited by logistics. One to one connections can be steady but slow. Location, time of day, other attention getters all work to diminish numbers reached. If you’re an introvert face to face may not be as attractive as responding to inquiries online.
It’s about our comfort zone.
The thing to remember is that selling is hard for an introvert because it is selling. But talking about your book, or pointing out books by favorite authors, or sharing new found favorites, are not only topics interesting to readers—it’s interesting to us too, because it doesn’t feel like selling. The good thing is, “not selling” offers the opportunity for readers to get to know us, and trust us.
I’ve come to realize that sustained readership comes from building relationships with readers through our mutual love of storytelling and books.
I remember when I got the call from my agent saying she had sold The Fallen Angels Book Club, and I was offered a three book contract for the Hollis Morgan Mystery Series. Life was all gold. Then almost immediately I was asked about my marketing plan and ideas for a book launch. My head spun. Fortunately, I loved my protagonist and I already had a series outline in my head. Writing was the easy part. Selling was hard. Well after a few bumps and dragging of feet, I finally got the hang of things.
If you’re a blazing extrovert or moderately outgoing, you don’t understand what the big deal is. Talk up your book for goodness sake. Get over it.
And they’re right. The key is to do it the introvert way.
First, working with a good PR firm can get you a lot of miles down the road. Your publisher, if traditional, or, if you self-publish, are both jumping off points, but the real work still falls to you. While public relations fees will vary from company to company, it can get expensive. Remember choose a firm that fits your personality and wallet. Janet Evanovich said: “Think of publicity like a restaurant menu. If you order only the appetizer, the cost is low, but with wine and a steak it escalates. In short: you get what you pay for … sometimes.” PR firms can be an introvert’s dream come true (Breakthrough Promotions is an example).
Not ready for a PR firm?
Second, try “non-selling”. Use social media on a daily basis to support other authors and promote your book at the same time. Be sincere and remember you want readers (authors are readers too), to trust you and your thinking.
Third, meeting your readers periodically isn’t going to kill you. Pal up with other authors to make up a panel and visit senior homes, libraries and book clubs. Panel presentations work well because they spread out the spotlight so the focus isn’t just on you and you don’t have to be the whole show.
The thing is, it’s okay to be an introvert and a writer. But promotion is an essential part of the writer’s package. If I can do it, you can do it. I still creep up on my weekly calendar, but it’s getting easier each time.
Go for it.
- Franklin James grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, graduated from Cal Berkeley, and flourished in a career of public policy and political advocacy. In 2013, the first book in her starred Hollis Morgan Mystery Series, The Fallen Angels Book Club, was published by Camel Press. Four books later, The Trade List, was released in 2016 and book five, The Bell Tolls, was released in 2017. James resides in northern California with her husband.
In his will, blackmailer Matthias Bell let his victims off the hook, and probate attorney Hollis must track them down to return the damaging goods he had on them. But Bell was murdered, making these victims suspects. Hollis steps in, and finds out quickly that sins do follow after the grave. Meanwhile, all is not calm in the rest of her life, her estranged mother needs a kidney, her fiancé is on a dangerous mission, and she’s hard-pressed to help a dying client find peace of mind.