Hope for Shrinking Violets

If you follow industry blogs you’ve probably seen advice on how to promote your book or author brand.

You get it. You also probably know social networking is critical to self-promotion these days. If you know this, and you haven’t yet jumped into the fray, could it simply be you aren’t comfortable with it?

Image: dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.n

A Myers-Brigg personality study tells us half the U.S. population consists of introverts. Surprising, right?

Not really.You just don’t always notice them next to the more conspicuous extraverts. Introversion isn’t the same as being shy, though. It’s a natural preference for solitude and reflection. We live in a fast-paced, “noisy” world that expects everyone to keep up. You see the conflict.

It’s not hard to imagine a good number of writers cringe at self-promotion—not because they don’t know what to do, but because the idea is emotionally draining to them. And maybe a wee bit nauseating

While introverts may have a harder time making small talk (hmm, Twitter?) or new friends (ahem…Facebook?), they do enjoy activities with long stretches of solidarity (writing, anyone?). If it makes you nervous to comment on a blog—if you write, edit, then rewrite your Facebook or Twitter posts—if you feel like you must say something witty or nothing at all—if it seems everyone else is having a grand old time with social media but you—you might be an introvert.

You’re not alone. Heck, I’m there right now. But here’s the thing about introverts—we’re in our own heads a lot. We know if we want to succeed, we have to venture out of our comfort zone, like it or not. Fortunately, social media can work in an introvert’s favor:

  • Need time to process information? Great! Rather than being forced to think on your feet, participate in conversations at your own pace. Mull things over to your heart’s content before you engage. Just don’t get stuck there.
  • Enjoy people but prefer them in small doses? Easy! All one has to do is Google to find a number of applications that allow future scheduling of pre-written updates for sites like Twitter, rather than facing them everyday. Or, you could begin by engaging in a site you feel most comfortable with (GoodReads worked well for me), then feed your updates to Facebook or Twitter to help you appear more ‘talkative’ while remaining true to yourself.
  • Trouble making small talk or accumulating friends? Start small. ‘Like’ someone else’s post. ‘Retweet’ a relevant article. Share a link or a picture on tumblr. You don’t have to talk much to say a lot. Just be sure you’re being thoughtful about what you share—no problem for an introvert!

Remember, every move you make in the social media realm makes the next ones easier. The trick is to get moving.

Why not start now? Tell us, what’s holding you back from engaging in social media? If you’ve already passed that hurdle, what worked for you when you were getting started?