Caught in the act of being an introvert.
By Aurora Whittet
There’s a common phenomenon in the authorial world; we authors tend to be introverts, shut-ins, or recluses. We’re often found alone, reading a book and when we aren’t reading, we are of course writing. We find peace naturally, in solitude, and yet we are never alone as we are surrounded by our characters. They keep us company. Where the trouble lies is when we go from the creation of a project to the promotion of a project.
So many authors I know struggle with promoting their books because it involves being in the public eye and I dare say, socially interacting with strangers. I, for one, am an introvert, though through the years I’ve worked hard at becoming an extrovert when it is necessary. I consider myself an introvert in disguise. I was recently asked, while on an author panel how I work through being an introvert and promote my novels, and I will share that experience with you here as well.
Five steps to becoming an introvert in disguise.
- Instant Satisfaction. The first thing I do is keep a healthy supply of water and chocolate, to me, this is the most important step. A little comfort snack is always a good choice and staying hydrated during the event is a must. It is hard enough for an introvert to talk in front of a crowd, so eat before hand, bring snacks and water.
- Start Small. Before I ever started talking to schools and author panels, I asked a few friends that had ties to book clubs to read my novel and to allow me to be a guest at their discussion of the book. We all know practice makes perfect, but starting with small book clubs that are far less intimidating and likely have a familiar face already in it, helps. You get practice giving your performance promoting your books and discussing your characters and world.
- Feedback is Key. Ask each book club you join, if there’s something you could improve upon, if there’s something you should bring to your next event, or if they feel something was missing. Criticism isn’t easy to take, but it’s necessary to grow as a presenter. Remember they aren’t attacking you, they’re trying to help you. So cry in your car afterward if you’re like me, but also remember the feedback they shared and try again.
- Training. A great choice for any introvert is professional training. There are public speaking courses through community education and even Lynda.com has some great tools, as well as finding your local or regional literary center. Look to your community for support, you are surrounded by tools and classes that can help you.
- Vulnerability. This is hard for anyone, much less an introvert, but it’s the true key to growing as a presenter and an author. When we write, we are truly vulnerable; we’re sharing pieces of our history, hearts and minds. In order to promote yourself you have to be vulnerable to your readers too. They want to know you. They want to be part of your journey. They don’t want to just read your books, they want to be part of the world you created. So when you present, it isn’t just the logical parts that go into a book, they want to know pieces of you, your motivation. When you concur with this step, you’ll be ready for larger and larger groups.
I like to tell people about the time I spoke to a juvenile detention center filled with seventeen year-old boys. At the beginning I was terrified and frankly pitted-out my shirt with sweat, but by the end I was one of them. I was vulnerable, and that vulnerability allowed them to be vulnerable with me, and I made them cry. I consider that a bucket list moment. They opened up to me and were able to hear what I had to say, because I worked past my fear and I was vulnerable with them.
The main thing to remember is everyone is human, even your readers. Allow yourself failure because even that is a lesson you can learn from. So dust yourself off and do it again and again, and build those important relationships with your readers.
Aurora Whittet started out as a wild red-haired child in Minnesota dreaming up stories for her friends to read. Today, she has completed the third novel in the Bloodmark Saga and is embarking on writing and illustrating her first children’s book. She is a national award-winning graphic designer in her day job, an oil painter, obsessive reader and a barefoot dancer. Aurora lives with her family in Minnesota.