Today’s post is by author Julie Vick (@vickjulie).
One question I was asked a few times around my book launch was, “How is it to promote a book about introversion when you are an introvert?”
The short answer I usually gave: I’ve figured out ways to make it work.
When I wrote my humorous advice book for introverted parents Babies Don’t Make Small Talk (So Why Should I?), I had been following other authors and the book industry long enough to know that the realities of the industry (even with a traditional publishing deal) meant that authors need to contribute to the marketing of their book.
The path to getting my book published also involved writing a proposal with marketing and promotion sections in which I said what I planned to do for promotion, so I knew the day would come when I needed to actually do those things. My book was also a project that I had spent a lot of my time on, so it was natural for me to want to try to contribute to its success.
What I’ve learned: there are a lot of different ways to promote a book. No one way is going to be the right fit for any author or book. But given my introverted (and at times socially anxious) personality, here are some things that worked for me.
Find comfortable ways to use social media
I started using social media before my book released to help build a platform and to promote my freelance and humor writing. Putting my work out there definitely took some getting used to, but I eventually found ways to use social media that felt comfortable (and often enjoyable!).
For me, that has meant not posting too much—taking the time to post and then interact with comments on a post can be draining even when I’m enjoying it, so I don’t follow some of the advice that seems to advocate for posting every hour on the hour and only maybe taking a break when you’re asleep. I try to focus on quality over quantity and spend a good portion of time on social media commenting on and sharing other people’s posts that resonate so it doesn’t become all about me.
I also don’t feel comfortable going live on social media or showing my face a lot, but I’ve found that there are plenty of ways to still use the platforms. As a humor writer, that often means posting jokes or videos of my book or sharing the work of other writers in my genre.
I’ve also learned to spend the most time on social media platforms that are a good fit for me. I started out using Twitter because I liked the text-based and casual feel of it and have found it particularly useful for connecting with writers and others in the industry (although it may be becoming less so with recent events at Twitter).
I now also frequently use Instagram and have even dipped my toes into TikTok. On TikTok, I often focus on showing jokes (turns out you can just overlay the text of a joke over a video background) or my own or other humor books and have even had a few videos take off. Different social media platforms appeal to different authors for different reasons but finding a good fit helps.
Focus on what you already know
I feel more comfortable doing something once I’ve practiced it a lot, so I tried to take advantage of skills I already had when my book came out. I’ve been teaching at the college level for over 15 years and got a crash course in teaching on Zoom during the pandemic, so teaching some virtual courses felt like an easy element of book promotion that I enjoyed.
The other skill we as writers already have is, of course, writing. Writing companion pieces (like the one you are reading right now) is something I’ve done and continue to do for book promotion. I think writers sometimes think that promotion has to mean social media, but I’ve found writing freelance pieces to be a good option. I had experience freelancing before my book came out, but even if you don’t, there are lots of great resources out there to get you going.
If there is something that you already know how to do, then think about how you can transfer your skills to book promotion to take advantage of that rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.
I enjoy listening to podcasts and also enjoy meaningful one-on-one conversations, so pitching podcasts around my book’s topic felt like a natural path. I reached out to podcasts that I enjoyed and have appeared on several podcasts since my book came out.
Most of the podcasts I’ve done have assured me that if I stumbled while saying something I could start over and it could be edited out later. I did not typically need to take advantage of starting over but knowing it was an option helped calm my nerves about talking on the fly, and I’ve found that although I might have some nerves just before recording, they often go away once I’ve settled into a conversation with the host or hosts.
Take advantage of conferences
Since introverts have a reputation for not wanting to leave the house, you might find this recommendation surprising. I find writing conferences draining, but I also love attending them. In a profession that is often solitary, I find the time I spend at conferences learning new topics and meeting other writers in real life (many of which I first developed relationships with online) invaluable.
But a day full of back-to-back events takes a lot of my energy. So, I try to pick and choose what I go to, skipping out on sessions when I’m feeling drained and making sure I have enough time to recharge in my hotel room alone at the end of the day. Virtual conferences have also presented a new way for me to learn from and connect with other writers.
The connections I’ve made with writers at conferences have also been useful in book promotion. A conference I attended last year led to podcast appearances, and many writers I’ve met at conferences have been the ones to help me at many stages in the book publishing process from guidance on how to find an agent to help getting the word out on launch day.
Find your people
Having a book come out is inevitably filled with some ups and downs and having other authors to talk to who were going through the same thing was helpful for me. I partnered with other authors on virtual events and we often helped boost each other’s social media posts.
Many of the people I partnered with I had met through online venues like Facebook writing groups and Twitter. If my book had come out in the time before social media, I think forging a lot of these relationships would have been more difficult. But connecting online often feels easier for me than connecting in person, so I appreciate that it’s an option now.
It was helpful to feel like I wasn’t going it alone (except for the times when I wanted to go it alone to recharge in my pajamas at the end of a long day).
Planning for a book launch can be daunting as an introvert (and I suspect, also for people who don’t identify as introverts). But finding the right strategies that fit with your skills and personality can make it easier.
Julie Vick is the author of Babies Don’t Make Small Talk (So Why Should I?), a humorous advice book for introverted parents navigating the early years of parenthood. She has written for New Yorker Daily Shouts, Real Simple, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency; and most importantly, one of her tweets once appeared in In Touch Weekly. She also writes a newsletter focused on humor and writing tips, which you can find here.