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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Introvert's Path to Publication

As I've mentioned, in April we had an online course at ACFW called "Too Shy To Pitch Or Promote." It was a great course taught by Terry Burns. We actually ended up spending most of the time discussing pitching sessions and proposals more so than the shy part. But to distill it down, the consensus seemed to be that to overcome shyness and wheel and deal as a writer, you have to put on your "public persona" - your writer persona where you step outside your usual shy and introverted self to do the things you need to do.

I understand it in theory. And I even think I can make that work in certain situations. But I'm not quite sure I can fully put it into practice. Think about the impact of introversion on your life (at least how I've experienced it). People who are introverted are shy, keep to themselves (duh!) and also have a strong sense of humility. Why does identifying those traits matter?

Well let's take one example, the mysterious word "platform" as it applies to writers marketing themselves and their books. I had to laugh because at one point during the course, Mr. Burns said:

"...Unless you’re a hermit, you can have a platform."

Well I wanted to raise my hand and say that in fact I was a hermit. But of course I was too shy to do so.


But seriously. One of the things a writer needs to do is speak with authority on whatever is the basis of their book (I'm talking fiction here, non-fic writers already know they need a platform). But that's not so easily done for an introvert. Enter that humility. That shyness. Who would be more ill at ease in trying to project an aura of authority and confidence then an introvert? It's like the two things seem diametrically opposed to me.

So what is the answer? Well I know what I want the answer to be. I want the business of writing to go back to being 'writer writes the book, publisher does the marketing.' But that's not going to happen. At least not in the foreseeable future.

So that leaves the notion of putting on your 'public persona' to get through those marketing moments. And hopefully it gets easier with practice. Perhaps I can draw on my days in high school drama club, stepping into those roles we played in the various productions (though granted that's so long ago it's getting hard to remember at all. LOL!).

I love writing. I hate marketing. But I need to learn to love them both.

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