Jonathan BaldieAug 17, 2020 — 5 mins read
When I published my first book, a big fear I had at the time was how it would be received by readers, family, and friends alike - a fear no doubt shared by nearly everyone who has ever put pen to paper and published it for the world to read.
I had put all of my efforts into the book for the past several months, and the horror of the ridicule I imagined it would receive was intense. I pictured the people I had known at school, for example, laughing at me and the book I had written.
I have been an introvert for a long time. My Myers-Briggs score tends to fluctuate, but I am usually typed as an INTJ/Architect, meaning I love to write and think about ideas - with the caveat that this is done by myself and on my own terms.
My Big 5 Aspects Scale scores back up this assessment. According to this test, I am extremely high in Openness to Experience (i.e. a love of new, interesting ideas), moderately low in Extraversion, and low in Agreeableness - I know what I like!
This personality typing means that I am primed for reading and writing about new ideas, experiences, and stories. This seems ideal for a writer! But there is one big catch. I have never been very comfortable engaging in groups of my peers.
In fact, among the writing community I feel very isolated and lonely. I look at the #WritingCommunity hashtag on Twitter and see thousands of writers happily communicating every day, and helping each other with their work.
As an introvert, this terrifies me. Everyone seeing what you write? And you only have 280 characters to fit your thoughts into? It seems like the perfect place for positions to be misunderstood, and that is a disconcerting thought indeed.
Although the community is helpful to questions and often gives warm welcomes to visitors, I find it exhausting to constantly engage and talk to people. I honestly can't do that all day, I just want to write and spend time in my own head.
The community can also be toxic. It can tend towards a strong, fierce, and open political slant that not everyone might agree with, and it is very much "fall into line, or be excluded" if you try to debate such points. Not productive or fun.
I have, however, seen the community be very welcoming to new people, who can gain tens of thousands of followers in a week of "boosts" by veterans. There's no doubt that extravert writers can thrive in such a socially stimulating environment.
For introvert writers, especially those who feel shy or excluded, this makes the task of gaining exposure for our work much more difficult. But fortunately, there are still some ways to get eyeballs on the books we write and publish!
One of the best ways to promote your books is through a blog and newsletter. I get newsletter subscribers by putting a subscribe link in my books, and offer new subscribers a free ebook and free 7-day course in exchange for their email.
A caveat of this is that you should never assume having a newsletter list will automatically mean your subscribers will read all your emails. If your subscribers become disengaged, they are less likely to follow purchase links you send to them.
This means you need to publish some useful, engaging content on your blog and newsletter. It doesn't mean you need to publish every day or even every month. If readers see you have a website with valuable content, they'll stick around.
Aside from these less expensive options, you can also make use of advertising. This means pushing your book in front of potential readers with ads on popular sites. There's lots of options for this, and my favourite is to use Amazon.
Amazon's advertising platform can be very effective for showing targeted book ads on their site. This means your book will appear in search listings and recommended book lists for other books, resulting in a sales boost.
This obviously isn't free, although it can be very effective. I've made hundreds of sales via Amazon's advertising platform, but this cost quite a lot of money. The choice of whether to do this is yours, I just want to make the potential costs clear.
Another paid option can be to get onto book launch newsletters, like those offered by BookBub.com, who promoted 24 Laws on the day of its release. Within hours the book got thousands of purchases, so it clearly works. But it wasn't cheap.
The way such newsletters work is that you submit your book to them before it's released, and if approved they will send out an email alerting their readers. The service cost me about $300 and it made the book a bestseller - well worth it.
However, the newsletter has to approve your new book for it to be on their newsletter, and at the time of writing they've rejected every single one of my later books. So you may not even have this option open to you!
Because Amazon is such a popular marketplace for buying books, I think there is a strong "flywheel" effect. This means that once your books generate some sales, that causes a momentum that makes promoting later books a bit easier.
Once your books gain some readers, it's possible that those readers will turn into fans, who will eagerly wait for your next book to come out. They don't always show themselves, but if you try your best they're more likely to appear!
I don't want it to seem like the only options for introverted self-published authors to promote their work all require expensive advertising. This is one of the risks we take on as independent authors, and every reward demands legwork.
Every month I see authors happily promoting their new book on a podcast, on Twitter, or on a Facebook page. Just the idea of doing that makes me feel anxious and scared - and then sad that I will never be confident enough to do that.
I accept that I will probably never be the type of author with millions of fans and mainstream popular acclaim. I will never be accepted as part of "the club". But I accept that is just a result of who I am, and I can't change that.
The best I can do is to keep writing to the best of my ability, and put my books in front of as big an audience as I can handle. All I want is to express myself creatively, and to help some people along the way. Maybe you feel the same.
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