Introverted Writer Wants Exposure For His Books, Not Himself: Is That Too Much To Ask?

The small town where I live is great. It’s safe. It’s affordable. It’s clean.  There’s no traffic to speak of, and there are at least three or four very good restaurants, one of which makes the best creamy risotto (shout out to Black Creek Bistro).  Plus, my town has several parks, so my son, a swing and slide addict, is covered.  In short, I like it here.  Really like it.

risotto

But there is a downside to living in this small, distinctly Southern little town: I’m an outsider here. Which, when I start to analyze things, has more to do with me than the town.  Actually, I’m always an outsider. It’s in my DNA.  I don’t know how to make friends, how to hob knob, how to network. When I’m not with my family or the minuscule semi-circle of people that can tolerate my presence for any length of time, I prefer being alone. And that, I’m beginning to realize, is a problem when it comes to my passion—writing.  Pushing hard at forty with a short stick, I kind of wish I was more of an extrovert because who I am seems to be holding me back professionally.

introverts

Quick story. Recently, I was asked to participate in a small, but lovely literary festival here in my home town.  Established writers. . .good food. . .panel discussions. . .book signings.  The usual stuff.  Sounds cool, right? And it is. Here’s my issue: I was a replacement.  An author that I’m friendly with couldn’t do it, so he recommended me.  Now, I’m not complaining; I’m delighted and grateful to participate, but I also couldn’t help wonder if I was putting myself “out there” more would I have been contacted first? Would I have been asked at all had my generous writer friend not put my name forward? Hmmm. . .

Let me stop right here. I freely admit that I sound like a bitter, underappreciated artist that, despite his so-called talent, isn’t getting his due. I know this whole post just screams, “Egomaniac!” And I accept that. I’ll even go a step further and flatly state that I, having published four novels, am an egomaniac. I write, after all, so that kind of comes with the territory.  But along with the ego maniacal tendencies comes the crushing self-doubt, and right or wrong, I can’t help but feel slighted.

 

feedback

But I didn’t write this too bitch and moan. Well, that wasn’t my entire point.  Musing on the matter led me to some questions I genuinely am interested in receiving answers to. . .your answers. So here’s a short list of them. Please, answer any/all you feel strongly about. And thanks in advance for the feedback.

Question #1: How do introverts, who prefer to remain relatively anonymous, but also want OUR WORK to gain exposure, promote ourselves offline?

Question #2: Are conferences/festivals/book events worth it?  Sub-question: is networking as painful as it seems (at least, to me)?

Question #3: Do you think extroverts/skillful promoters really do have an advantage over the rest of us (us, meaning, me)?

Question #4: Do you really find it helpful when you attend lectures/talks/Q&As by authors?

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17 thoughts on “Introverted Writer Wants Exposure For His Books, Not Himself: Is That Too Much To Ask?

  1. I solved the introvert question by adopting a pen name. Seriously. Kait is an extrovert, and she taps into what must be “that side” of my personality. So, although that was not the original reason for the pen name–it worked to may advantage. Kait is perfectly comfortable at signings and public speaking, doing radio interviews, walking into niche market stores (dive shops that would not have access to book sellers) and asking to have the book displayed and sold. Even cutting percentage deals. So, we are good there.

    You will find MANY kindred spirits at conferences. Book festivals and events are worth it. They introduce you to your readers and potential readers. No outgoingness needed. Show up and engage in modest chit chat. Often something stupid like saying, “I know the author and can get you an autograph on that book.” is enough to break the ice. Strange to say, many readers are intimidated speaking with authors, especially if they haven’t read the book. They don’t know what to say. As an introvert, put yourself on the other side of the counter. You’ll know what I mean.

    Yes, I do think extroverts have an advantage. That’s why I love Kait so much.

    As for your last question, not sure. It depends. I do sometimes get great marketing ideas and I’m always interested in the process of other writers, so I look at those functions as just for me – the other me, not Kait.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very encouraging response, “Kait.” Yeah, I know who you really are–I think! 🙂 I don’t think Max needs a pen name. See my comment below. I like my suggestion (pats himself on the back) about Max assuming more of the personality of his great character, Eli Sharpe (who, by the way, is one of my favorite male PIs; no smoke-blowing here). Max invited me to that local event he mentioned in his post. I couldn’t make it. I hope he’ll give me another chance if the opportunity arises. We can cower together behind our shared table! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Max, this probably won’t make you feel any better, but I could’ve written your post almost verbatim. I’m terribly shy, always have been. Several years ago in Florida I was part of a writer’s “guild” and was sometimes asked (as a published author) to present the program/talk for the meeting. I made copious notes and ground my way through those presentations, although I could feel the heat in my face and knew I was red as a beet. I also had to work hard to keep my voice from quivering. And these were mostly people I’d known for a good while and was otherwise comfortable being around.

    Another time I attended a well-established 3-day writers conference, the Amelia Island Book Festival near Jacksonville, FL. I was asked to sit in on a panel discussion, and agreed to do so. As the time approached I told my wife there was no way I could participate. I was in a near panic. She attended, making apologies for me by saying I had fallen ill. It really wasn’t a lie.

    I don’t know how you can teach your college courses in front of all those students, but you manage. For that, I admire you. I could never do it. Okay, on to the questions you raised.

    1. Well, unless your name happens to be J.D. Salinger or Harper Lee, you’ll have to get VERY lucky and write a tremendous best-seller that wows the world. Ain’t gonna happen in these days and times (IMHO). That said, you’ll have to force yourself “out there” to those conferences/festivals/book events and let your character take over. Here’s an idea: assume the character of Eli Sharpe at such events. Your PI isn’t afraid to let it all hang out. Honestly, when I read about Eli I picture you. You’re still young (30-plus isn’t “old”–believe me!). And you’re a handsome dude. Really. I’ll bet you have a lot of female students secretly swooning over you. You also have a great name for a writer: Max Everhart. It rolls off the tongue like “Mickey Spillane”–perfect for a mystery/crime writer.

    2. Yeah, I think they’re worth it IF you can afford it. And yes, it’s extremely painful to me. Think about this: I’ve gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. Do ALL you can WHILE you can. AND you have those advantages I mentioned at the end of question 1.

    3. One word: absolutely.

    4. I find it more inspiring than helpful, although I DO pick up important points now and then that are helpful. It sort of feels encouraging to be around other writers once in awhile (IF I take enough of my anxiety meds). I enjoy the camaraderie of being with others of my own ilk. I had that in the Marine Corps. It doesn’t go away. It’s very hard for me, but if I force myself and take my medication, it’s worth it for the writer’s soul within me. I hope some of this helps. Remember, you are NOT alone!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mike. It is paradoxical that I get in front of a class everyday and run my mouth off without any serious issues, although there have been stretches where it was extremely difficult. All I can say is, it’s different. Probably because, while I enjoy teaching and it’s a living, it is definitely not my so-called “vocation.” Writing, I believe, is what I was “called” to do, so, psychologically speaking, I’m not as invested in the teaching. I do it, I’m good at it. . .fine. Writing, though, is my dream, and I feel like an utter failure at it (I’M NOT FISHING; my feelings, I understand, ARE NOT FACTS).

      Mike, honestly whenever people like yourself, a soldier who has seen and done things I can’t even fathom for God and country. . .well, I feel like an asshole. My problems are petty. And yet I complain.

      But I digress.

      To your answers. I appreciate your honest feedback.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Okay Max, you’re good at teaching. I’ll take your word for it although I’ve never sat in one of your classes. But you’re DAMN GOOD at writing. Believe me, I don’t say that lightly. I fancy myself as a decent-good writer. But I’m a really good reader. I know what works and what doesn’t. Eli Sharpe is a character who shouldn’t just fade away into the sunset. That’s hugely unfair to his fans. I count myself among them. Believe me again–there is absolutely NO BSing or butt-kissing in what I’ve said. I try to keep my lying inside my novels.

        Oh, by the way, it’s Marine–not soldier. Marine’s detest being called the “S”-word, but I forgive your ignorance this time. 😉 By the way, I did nothing heroic or unusual by joining the Marines and serving in combat. I did what I had to do. No, I wasn’t drafted. I watched too many John Wayne flicks as a kid. I wanted adventure, excitement. I wanted to get the hell away from a less-than-perfect home environment. So when I turned 18 I signed up. I got way more than I bargained for. But what did I know? It was a different time then, and a different nation. I was young and dumb, to coin part of a phrase. Nothing special at all.

        Failure? Me too. Honestly. I didn’t get started in this game until I was 40. I’ll whine here and blame it on PTSD. But I truly feel that’s the reason. I attended college for a couple of semesters. I nailed creative writing. The first day’s class we had to write a paper about something significant in our lives. The instructor called me up to his desk the next class and told me I was being given credit for that class and advanced to a higher class. I made straight A’s until I dropped out. But, you know what? Max Everhart, E. Michael Helms, and “Kait Carson” are PUBLISHED authors. By legitimate publishing houses. I’ll let you in on a little secret here, but you must promise not to tell a soul: I haven’t made crapola from any of my books except my first one, a memoir of my time in the Marines/Vietnam. That one has been good to me. The others? Not so much. Do I think I’ve wasted my time writing them? Nope. They’re out “there” and people have enjoyed them. As they have yours and Kait’s. And more people have read them than you imagine, sale’s be damned. Reviews be damned. Quit? Never. We’ll all leave at least a small legacy behind when our days are done.

        I write, therefore I am.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Kait, I adopt a persona whenever I teach, but said persona is hardly an extrovert. That version of myself is just more accommodating, nicer, perhaps a touch more easy-going. I appreciate your suggestions. I always wanted to have a pen name. Maybe I’ll come up with one. Of course, I have to publish another book in order to exactly require a pseudonym, and I’m not sure that’ll happen anytime soon.

    I’ve been to a conference before, and the people were great, the sessions informative and all that jazz. I guess I just don’t know what to say to relentlessly positive people, folks with over-the-top passion. I realize it’s purely my hang-up, but earnest, sincere people make me skeptical, make me want to tell a dirty joke or something. . .but like I said in the post, I have issues. Still, appreciate the advice. I’ll try to put it into action.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. #1 – Unfortunately, there’s no way around it. You must put yourself out there in order to succeed. That said, being genuine and honest about how it makes you feel might surprise you. Because most of us feel the same way.
    #2 – Conferences can be a great way to network. And no, it’s not as frightening as it seems. Once you relax, you’ll actually enjoy yourself. Listen. There’s not a writer alive who doesn’t suffer with self-doubt. So, when you attend, keep that in mind. On the inside everyone is just as nervous as you are. It helps to keep that in mind, truly.
    #3 – No. We all have the same opportunity. We have no one to blame but ourselves if we don’t get out and network. Sorry. Sounds harsh, but it’s true. You. Can. Do. This.
    #4 – Some of them are worthwhile. Others not so much. It depends on the speaker.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Max you didn’t even put your name on the post, I had to guess who wrote it. I think most writers are either introverts or in the very middle between introvert and extrovert. I took a test and I was right in the middle. I can go either way. That said, I just took my own anxiety medication after awaking in panic mode. I understand discomfort. Fear of “being known” is common. That means most of us don’t spill the beans about what we are going through. It’s better if we do though. The marketing is unavoidable. If people aren’t reminded your books are out there they forget. I find it uncomfortable to remind them that I’m alive and have something to say and it gives me anxiety to do it. Michael told me I wasn’t aggressive enough. I took that to heart and have been trying to address it. I love to write and would do it regardless of circumstances. I think it helps if you remind yourself that speaking or giving a presentation is a finite thing. It ends and you can go back to your usual mode. I read that public speaking is feared more than death by many people. There is a negative voice that tells us we don’t measure up and generally beats us up. The voice is inside our own minds. I push past it as best I can and move forward. I am glad you wrote your post and let us in. You may never really enjoy being out there but you can overcome your aversion to it. I’m working on my fear and this post of yours shows me that you are too. Best to you. And BTW just because you write books doesn’t make you an egomaniac. It just means you are a creative person.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for the feedback, MJ. I take an SSRI twice a day for OCD/Panic Disorder, and it works pretty well, but I still have anxiety. Guess I’m just wired that way. I understand and appreciate the advice regarding marketing. I’m in a holding pattern though–I’m trying to figure out what, if anything, I want to write next. Encouragement from MMO readers such as yourself does help though, so cheers.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This may or may not be useful – but I do think pubic events and speaking get easier with exposure. The more you do it – the more you’ll become accustomed to it and have less problems with it. A bit of a desensitization process. I always think about my animals with respect to life and my horse Chance is very high anxiety. The best way to get a horse over a fear, is to expose them to the trigger over and over. You don’t use the full force of it (maybe the water from the hose just runs next to them, then on the hooves, then on the lower legs etc), but you don’t STOP at a level until the horse is calm. So as long as he’s moving his feet, you stay steady with the pressure of whatever level you’re working on. Maybe start with book clubs. Just you and a couple people to talk about your work. Not a big event, but a start. Do as many as you can and get comfortable with that (or at least not panicked). Then move on to larger events. Maybe only do events for awhile with another writer you know and trust, so you don’t feel “alone,” onstage. I don’t know if you’ve tried approaching it like teaching (write out a “lesson plan” so to speak), but that’s another possibility. Lastly, a lot of musicians and performers use a beta-blocker before a performance. It’s a safe, non-addictive drug that lowers your heart rate. I think it’s worth talking to your doctor about getting a prescription – taking even a small amount before an event might help you keep your nervous system from activating you into fight/flight or freeze. The more you experience these kinds of things in a positive way, I think you’ll have an easier time. I do think as authors we have to get out there – we live in a world of social connections. You’re a great writer, I’d hate to have readers miss your work because they don’t have the opportunity to meet you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Too kind, Elena. Your baby step approach to marketing for introverts is sound. Excellent advice, many of the ideas hadn’t occurred to me. As to the medication advice: appreciated. But I already take medication for my heart (I inherited Afib from my mom) as well as an SSRI for anxiety, and pills for asthma, and. . .you get the point. I don’t know that I get full on panicked per se; I just really dread speaking to groups of people about the one thing other than my family I truly love: writing.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Even though this blog you have written is an echo for other writers I didn’t publish it because I didn’t want to make things worse. We all have a sort of comfort zone and writers are a neurotic bunch but also a compassionate group. Check your meds. There is a lot of info about SSRI meds and the good and bad of it. Allergies can be related to food intolerance. There is a lot of information out there about what helps different people. It really does help to have some control and info about what is helpful. I know you will do what you want, but remember that the people who read your books are enriched by what you write and if every writer who was nervous stopped writing there would be just a bunch of junk to read. I finally decided that no one really cares what I post or write and they are more interested in their own situations and I stopped trying to control my visibility. I gave it up. It is a thought but it may not be for you.

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