Introvert Marketing in an Extrovert Market

My name is Olivia Newport and I am an introvert.

I’m not a hermit. Rich relationships nourish me, and my peeps keep me buoyant. Speaking, preaching, or leading a workshop do not scare me. But they take from me, rather than give to me.

At least 25 percent of the general population are introverts and charge up during time alone. Among writers, the percentage of introverts likely rises.

The rub comes because the rest of publishing runs on a 75 percent extrovert mindset. “Why Writers Have to Market.” “Ten Steps to Building Your Platform.” “Authors Must Be Speakers.” “How to Suck All the Readers in the World to Your Blog!” (Okay, I haven’t actually seen that last headline, but you know it’s a game winner.)

Um. Markets and platforms are places where hordes of people hang out. And since I don’t fuel my creative energy by hanging out with hordes of people … well, you see where this is going.

I do want to be a novelist. I do want to build an audience. I do want to be successful over the long haul.

My challenge is this: How can I accomplish these goals without feeling thrust into a 75 percent extrovert mindset that is counter-intuitive to who I am? I’m not talking about the work of learning new skills, including social media. We all have to do that. I’m talking about being able to meet readers out of the strength of my natural introversion, rather than being squeezed to set it aside in order to play the game.

I can’t turn myself into an extrovert. I don’t even want to pretend to be one for periods of time. It’s exhausting, and how does that help? As I got ready to launch a website and blog, I thought a lot about how to build an online presence based on my strengths, not on rules that are a foreign language to me.

• Be present. It’s not hard to find me. You find my name, you find me. I don’t spurn social media, and I don’t make it tricky to be cyber-friends.

• Seek connection. I like people. Really. My heart rejoices with those who rejoice and weeps with those who weep.

• Risk authenticity. I’m not perfect. I’m figuring life out as I live it. I love to go deep and share that experience with others doing the same.

• Build on consistency. I am a creature of habit and lists. I’m generally predictable. This will serve me well in an expanding author-reader universe.

• Celebrate being me. I’m not competing in that reality show, “She Who Dies With the Most Wins.” Embracing and celebrating the person God created me to be is the greatest value I offer to readers.

We all connect with readers by building on strengths. Being introverted is a different sort of strength than 75 percent of the population, but it serves me well because it’s my strength and I understand it.

Are you introverted or extroverted? How does that affect your experience of publishing?

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48 thoughts on “Introvert Marketing in an Extrovert Market

  1. Olivia, your humorous, insightful post delights me! Your transparency and honesty about walking the marketing tightrope as an introvert offers hope that writers don’t necessarily have to fit into someone else’s prescribed social media or speaker-oriented mold. Each can celebrate how God wired them and use their specific talents toward success. I must admit to being an introvert at heart, but extrovert by profession. Make sense? Thanks so much for this well-written, excellent post!

  2. Thanks for your post Olivia. I am introverted but many people assume I’m an extrovert. I learned to reach out to people and push myself. But if I’m totally honest, I feel most comfortable space alone or with my family. Yet, ironically I put myself out there for others because I sense a drive to share what I’ve been given. Which element of the writing world do you find most difficult, as an introvert?

    • Trying to see myself as a brand is daunting–because it is dependent on popularity, I suppose. It may mean I can’t write some of the characters walking around in my head because the stories don’t fit the brand. Yet building a brand and an audience that wants to read that brand consistently ultimately will be one measure of success.

  3. I’m more introverted then most of the introverts I know (ie. most introverts come alive at writers conferences. I can’t wait to seek the sanctuary of my room even if I’ve only been in a crowd long enough to eat breakfast!). I’m not published yet and am only beginning to delve into the waters of marketing/social networking etc.

    While I would not say that I know how to harness the introvert’s strength, I do know that at least being one step removed (ie. interacting on the computer) is slightly less draining then physically being around other people. So my most difficult challenges will be things like speaking engagements, book signings, etc. I’ll have to face those just as I do any other introvert emergency in life (of which there are many)–try to plan for it and store up energy as best I can then get through it. God will give me the words I need, when I need them.

  4. Valuable thoughts, Olivia.

    I worry that we will lose some of the best writing in America because of current pressures toward extroverted activities in marketing.

    I also recently read a post in which a publishing pro said writers should “light up a room with their presence.” I have some qualms about this kind of expectation. I believe writers should be talented, professional, and polite. Beyond that, I hope the world will continue to accept a wide variety of personalities from authors. Though I am quite capable of extroversion when the occasion calls for it, I know many wonderful writers who are completely introverted and will never light up any rooms socially. It would be a great loss if the work of these writers was overlooked due to the demands of popularity and gregariousness.

    Someone, somewhere, is going to rise up as a marketing champion for all the amazing writers who are not gifted in this area. And that person is going to make a lot of money. It will be the new version of agenting–an exclusive marketer who chooses clients very carefully and takes a cut of her client’s income.

    • I’ve asked the same question. The person who says a writer must light up the room is no doubt a person wired to light up the room. Many of us have trouble seeing past our own lens to what the world might look like from somewhere else.

    • Oh, amen! I’m right there with you guys. I attended a C.L.A.S.S. seminar in August to home my speaking skills and during the course we talked about our personality types. At first I was not happy to find out I was a peaceful phlegmatic with a strong influence of the perfect melancholy. I wanted to be like the popular sanguines and powerful cholerics! LOL! But then the more I understood about my personality type the more I realized I didn’t need to feel bad about not doing things like those others. I need that downtime and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s how I recharge and am useless if I don’t do it.

      It’s a still a bit of a struggle at times. I want to do so much more but then the moments that allow me to truly connect with an individual and be a blessing to them remind me that God uses all types and that we are ALL crucial to His plan. I just love that!

  5. Nice post. I, too, am an introvert which strikes most people as funny if I say it when they meet me. I think it’s about the recharge… I need time alone to regather and think. From one introvert to another… thanks for validating that!

    • We can’t know by meeting someone what charges that person up. Shy is not the same as introvert. Hope you’re able to carve out regular charge-up time.

  6. Thanks for writing, Olivia. I tremendously enjoyed reading. I used to be ultra-introverted. I could not stand for 30 seconds to talk to people. I was afraid of being in people’s company. I could not speak, for fear of public perception. I was an emotional mess. I had to start praying for healing of my social life. I knew I was sick, very sick. I read a lot of scriptures and self-affirmation books (still reading them). I can say that today, I feel so much better. I am very far from being extroverted (I do not know if I can ever be one). But I feel a lot better now. I’ll still rather be alone and with some close family members. But I am feeling a bit more relaxed around people. Just a bit, but it means the world to me.

    • Anne, I’m glad you’re feeling better about where you are these days. I don’t think the goal is ever to become an extrovert. It’s all about what charges you up and it sounds like being alone and with a few people you’re close do does that for you.

  7. I am introverted. And though I can handle public speaking, the preparation and anticipation drains me; afterwards I need some alone time.

    The book, “Introverts in the Church” (which I recommend), claims that slightly more than half the population are introverted. If correct, that puts me in the majority, which I take solace in.

    • Statistics vary, from what I’ve read. Interestingly, I’ve read that people with more education tend to have higher levels of introverts, and other such variables. But even if introverts are slightly more than half, many of us feel the pressure to operate as if extroverts are the only way go to.

  8. No, I’m not an introvert. I’m the opposite, but I strongly support you being who you are. Your post rings loud and clear that you know your own strengths and have turned introversion into one. Good for you. Be who you are, for sure.

  9. I think authenticity is the key, and you’ve got that! I find the more I put myself out there and get used to talking with people (booksignings are NOT my idea of a good time!!) the easier it gets. My husband is forever telling me I need to be more vocal, to ‘sell’ my book, so when somebody is hesitating about buying one, I should be able to talk them into it. That’s just not me. I hate the thought of ‘peddling my wares’. I much prefer the thought of creating relationships, but again, that does mean I have to put myself out there! Good luck, Olivia, I am sure you will figure it out. We’re all in this together!!

    • I know what you mean, Cathy. I’m not much on peddling either. I think authenticity begins with being comfortable in your own skin—including the introvert’s skin.

  10. I am an introvert and I am so thankful for this post. I love people but I am not a big fan of social media. The pressure of platform and brand names sometimes can be overwhelming as I try to figure out who I really am as a writer. I usually write when I hear a little voice say “this is a story”. All that being said, you have given me hope and courage and I know I am not the only one out there. As far as it being a ‘strength’, what a great concept. I will tuck that in my writer’s mind and go forward.

  11. I’m an introvert, but strangely I’ve never had a problem being outgoing online. I like it. Don’t ask me what the difference is between IRL folk and cyberfolk, there just is one.

    The problem comes IRL. I have an acute case of stage fright on top of my introverted-ness. Fun! 😛 I think the introverted-ness, like stage fright, is very often much less obvious to everyone else, and not something you have to be worried about.

    • Thanks for the comment, Kathrine. You’re right. We can turn it on and be what we need to be. But that can be exhausting and we need to recharge where the only voices we hear are the ones in our heads!

  12. Hi Olivia– This is SO me! I am a total introvert (and a tad socially awkward) in real life… when I “escape” to my computer, I come across as outgoing and fun so people expect it from me and then when they meet me, I’m afraid they’re disappointed. This post makes me feel that a) it’s okay that I am the way I am and b) there is hope for marketing.

    • Erin, I’m so glad you feel encouraged. The best road to authenticity is understand how God created you.

  13. Hi Olivia – I’m another introvert and having to go out in front of the public has been good for me. On my own I don’t think I’d do it and I’m constantly being pushed out of my comfort areas. I agree with your take – I have to remind myself all the time to not go overboard, it’s okay to stick to what I’m capable of doing and whatever it is I have to bring to the table is more than enough. Thanks for the post!

    • We all have ministries and callings that involve being with people, even leading them. The question is how we charge up to answer the call. Staying outside our natural areas for too long at a time causes harmful stress, in my opinion.

      • I agree with you about the harmful stress. Sometimes I stretch and grow to a more comfortable level and sometimes I have to assess whether something is necessary to do or can be left behind because it’s causing too much stress. That’s where I rely on faith that it’ll all work out.

  14. Hi Olivia,
    Thanks for posting this. I think I’m somewhere in the middle although I used to think I was more introverted. Is there a midoverted? 🙂 Do we change as we age with this stuff? Maybe. I like the ‘risk authenticity’ on your list and I think I do that naturally. I’m involved with an all day signing on the 22nd with a 100 other authors. I like this because I’m involved in something big, I’m getting my name out there, but it’s not all about me. Thank God. I know that goes against the grain for some who would say you need to have your own personal signing, but I love it. It won’t feel so draining. It’s like lunch time at work. Most of the gang meet in a room for lunch. I stay in my offcie to energize for the counseling sessions, teaching, and group work I do all day. I’m sure some think I’m antisocial, but if they know me well enough they know I need the alone time.

  15. Ditto on being the introvert, Olivia. I’ll be bookmarking this one. What valuable advice, not only for marketing but for the journey: Be honest about our strengths and weaknesses and (instead of wasting time moaning about all my weaknesses) focus on using my strengths to my favor. I will. Thank you!

  16. I love this! “Risk authenticity” — oh, that’s powerful stuff. The great thing about social media is that I think it levels the playing field for extroverts and introverts. I mean, you don’t have to interrupt someone at a cocktail party to connect. You can do it on your own terms with a measured, authentic approach.

    BTW – I’m an over the top extrovert, but I’ve become more of an introvert as I’ve gotten older. (I haven’t crashed any parties lately as an uninvited guest!)

  17. I’m an introvert at heart, but most people would guess that I’m the opposite because I like to chat, laugh and have fun. But honestly, I do better one-on-one or in a very small group, and I love, love to be alone — that’s how I recharge. Anyway, I appreciate this post, Olivia. Thanks for being honest and authentic.

  18. Hello there Olivia. Thank you for posting this, at a time when my introvertion is taking me over! I too love people and laugh when they laugh, weep with those who weep and so enjoy others good fortune. But I just can’t bring myself to join in with the ‘rat race’ of trying to get known. Right now I don’t want to take the speeding train, I’ve decided to walk instead. Does that make sense?

  19. Hi Olivia,
    Thanks for drawing attention to this issue. As an introverted author myself (I’m so introverted that I wrote a book called Introverts in the Church) I have found the publishing process to be quite bi-polar – introverted in writing, extroverted in marketing. It’s pretty much only been my commitment to not-failing that has kept me persevering on the marketing side. I really wish that I had an extroverted-dynamo of a twin brother who could do the marketing while I did the writing.

    Here’s a post that I wrote (for a WordServe blog tour) on what strategies I have employed as an introverted author:

    Promoting a Book in Ten Painfully Easy Steps

    Peace,
    Adam McHugh

  20. All good points, Olivia. I especially like your point about being a creature of habit. If a writer can carve out several minutes every day to ‘be present’ in the digital media space, even that can become habit and help overcome some of the drain. Great post! (:

    • Rebecca, that’s pretty much what I’ve done–carve out a habit of a few minutes several times a day without feeling like it has to take over. After all, I have manuscripts to write, and that brings me joy.

  21. Thank you, Olivia!
    I have been encouraged by your post!! Thank you! I think I need to focus more on the strengths of being an introvert to see what self-revelations will positively affect my publishing experience. You have wonderfully highlighted a fresh and positive way to view being an introvert in the online marketing world. I can use my own strengths and embrace being me (…just being me)….still processing all this as I write.

  22. Thank you for initiating the discussion on introvert and extrovert marketing.

    I have a feeling that writers should be introverts, and introverts should write.

    Marketing in the fast changing environment of today is very difficult and I don’t think a writer can be successful in that area.

    I prefer believing that a good work will find its own way to reach the readers.

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