How to Self-Promote When You’re So Shy You’d Rather Chew Off Your Own Arm Than Talk to Strangers

You wrote your book!  You went through several rounds of editing, got it workshopped by fellow writers, polished your novel into its best possible shape, and self-published. Now you just have to get the word out. Let’s go on this adventure together.

1Get business cards. Vistaprint is great for that.   It automatically gives you legitimacy, and you don't really have to work at it.  Go to places you frequent.  Give your favorite waiter a card and a generous tip.

Ask if you're allowed to, then leave a stack of your cards at a coffee shop by the register, or on the bulletin board at your favorite bar.

Make your business cards stand out! Make sure it doesn’t get lost in the black hole that is the wallet, never to be seen again. Use invisible ink! Tape candy to it!  Make a word search on the back!  Think of something that’ll make people look at it twice, and better yet, show other people.

2Perfect your elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a short summary of your work that you could tell someone if you're riding the elevator with them.

Do what you do best and write out your pitch!  Then practice it.  If you say it over and over and over again, you'll get to the point where it's not scary anymore, and that way you're not struggling for words when people ask what your book is about.

3Don't apologize. As writers, we tend toward being sheepish about our work. That's understandable!

You're putting yourself in a vulnerable position, and if you waffle around about “well, I mean, my book's okay, I guess” if they don't like it, they're not hurting you personally, because you're acting like you're not invested in it.

And if they DO like it, then you were being humble, and people like that, too.  You're not putting yourself out there. But here's the thing: if you don't stick up for yourself, no one will.

How-to-Self-Promote

You rock.  Okay?  You've gotten this far.  If they don't like your work, there's nothing you can do about it.  You don't have to preemptively shield yourself against criticism.

Here's the hard truth: you're going to be criticized. Think about the type of music you love the most. Space jazz, or whale rap for example.

Now think about  everyone on earth who hates that kind of music, even though DJ Humpback is the best!  There's no accounting for taste.  Just like how you don't particularly like Viking blues or synthetic jungle howling.

It's a numbers game… you just have to keep putting yourself out there.

4Be creative! Fliers! Paper airplanes! Messages in bottles! Blogs, sub-blogs, and blogs-within-blogs! Geocaching copies of your book, making it an adventure.

Leave a copy on a park bench with a note to read it and pass it on along to someone else (with a link to a Facebook group for the people who DO read it!)  Social networking sites (and keep up with it!)  Give one of your characters a Twitter account.

Think about the kind of marketing that would get you excited about something, and then do it yourself.

I have a blog for tracking the motions of my main character. I gave her a Facebook account, too.  And it's a blast!  Make it so that self-promotion is fun for you.  There's no reason it has to be scary.

5Make goals and a checklist. It's easy to talk yourself out of self-promotion if you don't have plans.  I know for me, I say, “I'll do it tomorrow” and, through the transformative magic of procrastination, tomorrow turns into never.

Think hard about what you want to do. Do you want to update your blog once a week or once every two weeks? Whatever you choose, stick to it. It's your new job. Do you want to send out a short story a month to a magazine? Put it on the list.

Do you want to send that local newspaper a letter saying they should do a feature on you?  List. (And they should do a feature on you. You're awesome.)  Reevaluate these goals every month or so.  Are they working? Is there something you can add or subtract from your list to make it more reasonable?

HabitRPG is a site that's pretty great for making goals and keeping on top of them. It's a checklist that gives you virtual gold if you do well, and it's broken up into a daily checklist, long-term goals, and good habits.

6Above all, remember that it's your job as a writer to get out there. As a shy person, there's a romantic notion of being like Emily Dickinson and hiding all your poetry under your bed until the velociraptors came and – okay, not so familiar with the Dickinson story, but she was shy and reclusive, too, and it was a one-in-a-gazillion-chance that her work was discovered and made famous after she died. So don't wait until the velociraptors come; get out there so everyone else can see how great you are.

Bio: Heather Pedoto is the award-winning author of One out of Five Items that Adeline Stein Left on the Bus on the Way to the Zoo, which is available now on Amazon!  Check out her blog at blarglefish.wordpress.com!

The following two tabs change content below.

Radu Balas

Radu is the Founder of Publishing Addict and author of "Sell More Books Using Your Author Website | The Easiest Way To Brand, Build, Market, and Manage Your Authorship" Soon available on Amazon.

2 Comments

  1. Teresa FitzPatrick Oct 12, 2015 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    I’m currently doing an MFA and taking a novel workshop class. I’ve been with these other writers for a couple of years now and have listened to them bitch about how much they were stuck, or hated what they were working on. Now, finally, I’m reading these works and they are, for the most part, wonderful. The hardest thing for writers is being objective about their own work, both positively and negatively. It’s SO important to have others read your work and give you feedback! It not only helps you get better, it also helps you realize that you have more potential than you let yourself believe.

  2. Radu Balas Oct 12, 2015 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    Yes Teresa, you are right, but there are many options nowadays for author, where they can connect and get feedback.

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.