As promised, here are some more thoughts on the amount and kind of promotion we’re all encouraged to do. This is designed not so much to give you specific, practical pointers on what to do, but to start you thinking about what kind of person you are, and to choose the marketing strategies that will best fit you.
My friends, EB and P, used to live on a farm and run a market garden. P did the heavy lifting – planned the garden, planted the plants, tended them, harvested and packed them for market. EB helped out by plowing the fields, fixing broken machinery, finding deals on equipment and supplies, but his real contribution to the business was at the weekend markets. He sold more produce for them than any other three stalls at the markets. Why? He loved people, he loved talking and he’s a showman. I love listening to EB. He can yarn for hours, he can make people laugh, and he’s most brilliant with complete strangers. He’s an extrovert.
I recently attended a publicity workshop filled with great advice and good ideas. But there was one presenter who made me want to pack up my netbook, throw my coat over my head and slink out. She cold called and cold visited every bookstore in Ontario and got promises from most of them to stock her upcoming book. She still does it. She’s amazing. She’s extroverted.
I’m not. I’m an introvert who hates talking to people I don’t know. Not because I hate people – I just feel awkward, tongue tied and clumsy. My hands and feet feel three times larger than they really are, everything I say sounds fake, stupid and lame, and more often than not, I manage to put my foot in my mouth and really goof. Or at least I feel as though I do.
A lot of marketing strategies are designed for people who love people and can talk easily and well with strangers about just about anything. They’re the ones that get out from behind the table, who snag passersby with a pithy comment, a compliment, a trenchant phrase. Their twitter posts are always funny, pointed and brilliant. Status updates are layered, elegant and erudite. These are the people who can walk into a bookstore, and by the time they leave the bookstore, know everything there is to know about the bookstore, the proprietor, their family and the employees. They have a permanent place on the bookstore shelves, their names engraved in copper plates, just waiting for their next three novels. Know something? Introverts can’t do that.
One thing that comes through clearly whether you’re in person or on the web is how relaxed and genuine you are when you’re talking to strangers, acting a role you may not be used to or taking risks with your personality type. If you’re not the kind of person who wear a lamp shade and do the fandango on the dining room table while sober, chances are you’re not going to be able to don a costume, act silly and make a fool out of yourself to promote your book. So don’t try. Find ways that let you be you when you have to promote your book and yourself as author, whether its on the web or in person. If you have a knack for coming up with pithy phrases, great puns or plays on words and fantastic one liners, then twitter is probably a good venue. If not, don’t go there.
If you’re an introvert, and chances are, being a writer, you do prefer the company of cats, dogs, computers and goldfish to other people, then be very careful about the promotion you do, and how you do it. The more like yourself you really are, the more comfortable you’ll be, and the more appealing you will be to your audience, and the more people will remember you and your books.