Once upon a time, a writer wrote and a publisher published. Some of the greatest writers were quiet and reserved. We only had the opportunity to know their thoughts because they shared them through the quiet solitude of writing. Consider H.P Lovecraft, the quiet and almost withdrawn father of horror. There are others and for sound reason. Writing is an art and like most art, those most drawn to the craft spend hours in the world of inner thoughts and contemplation. I believe that a wholly extroverted person will find difficulty completing a novel simply because of the solitude required.
I’ve taken several personality tests (that’s what happens when you study psychology). I remain on each, just slightly on the introverted side of the scale. Mostly the scores reveal a 50/50 match. I think it is a fair reflection of my preferences. I enjoy the company of others when I can also have equal share of “alone” time. I am enough of an extrovert that I have spoken in front of groups as large as two hundred people. Actually, my introverted side makes a really large, anonymous group far less distressful than a one on one meeting. I am not shy. Most introverts are not. It’s simply a preference to spend time alone without the constant hum of human interaction. Of course I am not enough of an extrovert that I enjoy all the public interaction required to market my books…which brings me to my point.
I was browsing the Good Reads groups, looking for a place of interest that I could join. Each time I saw a thread where writers unabashedly plug his or her own work I cringed. It’s not a matter of confidence. I stand behind my novels. I am proud of the work and would have no fear of placing it on the desk of an English professor or a publisher. The issue is that I am as much an introvert as an extrovert and the introvert side just doesn’t like to make a lot of noise in these forums. Perhaps I am too humble for my own good, but I know I would be better served with a publicist.
And there in lies the trouble for the introverted writer. I believe there are plenty of them and I believe that there are probably fantastic works of written art that we will never see, because this is not a market for the introspective nor the humble. In the era of Facebook where everyone is famous, at least in his own mind, bold, overconfident and loud in writing is the new marketing. It’s why, in general, I hate forums. There are always one or two people commanding the room. Bringing it back to them. With so much to say, I often wonder how they have any time to write at all.
So interestingly, the introvert who spends the most time thinking and working her craft can only achieve readership through the techniques required by the extrovert – say it loud and say it often. The present advice on marketing for independent authors reads like a list of “Things I would rather get a root canal than suffer through.” Things like sharing your thoughts on your own blog, commenting on other blogs, self promoting, blog tours (whatever that is), interviews, book signing…communication, communication, communication. No quiet conversations, no thoughtful exchanges, just a fast moving competition to be noticed and be read. I wonder if the person who has all that energy for such and is so quick the trudge into the fray, has the make up to be the “best” or most “insightful” type of author? Or are many of the popular reads more like a version of some ABC Family show?
I’m in the middle. I have a little of both so it is not completely painful. I’ve given much thought to bolder marketing and more interaction with the book buying world. I’ve also given thought to starting my own Good Reads group – The Introverted Writer. A place for the quieter of us to come and communicate and assist each other with our own less frantic grassroots marketing. I may just do it, except I worry that the introverts may join but never speak.
What about you? You know the new rules of marketing your work – do you consider it a good time or something you look forward to – or would you rather have a surrogate (or a root canal)?