Wednesday, June 2, 2010

An Introvert's Guide to Anti-Market Approach

Hi, folks. It’s me again. And this time, in addition to being a twenty-five year overnight success, I am about to be an almost semi-famous author, so listen up. This could be important.

Several days ago I was browsing Seekerville and read the post by Maggie Brendan and I was completely blown away by her dedication and work ethic. Holy crap! Does the poor woman ever sleep? I am in awe of her ability to juggle so many things at once and her fearlessness in tackling such things as speaking engagements, book signings, radio interviews, and putting herself OUT THERE.

I get hives just thinking about it. (If you don’t, then stop reading now. This post is for the introverts among us. You extroverts go pierce something, or get inked, or go sing karaoke somewhere)
When my debut novel, PIECES OF SKY, came out, I had one book signing, which was agony, and one public reading, which was only marginally less stressful than a root canal (but more painful), and no radio interviews—thank you thank you thank you.

Instead I stayed at home in my jammies and did a twenty-one stop blog tour while trying to maintain my own website with eighteen more blogs and six e-newletters. (Do you have any idea how difficult it is to say almost the same thing forty-five different ways when it wasn’t that interesting in the first place? I didn’t think so.)

All that blogging was stressful enough, so I certainly applaud Maggie’s ability to handle that and signings, and face-to-face interviews and write books, while still having a life. We can all learn from someone who has been in the trenches, lived to tell the tale, and become highly successful in the process.
But there’s another take on that story, which is what I’m addressing today.

Book 2 of my trilogy, OPEN COUNTRY, was released yesterday. It’s part two of the Wilkins brothers’ family saga, with the same New Mexico 1870s setting, and many of the same characters from PIECES OF SKY. Book 3, CHASING THE SUN, out in January 2011, will continue from there, concluding the trilogy with an epilogue (I hope). And last week I contracted with Berkley for another series, so I’ll be busy for quite a while, doing what I love to do, which does NOT include any public appearances.

The point is, you can leap headfirst into the deep end of book promotion, (which might greatly enhance the branding of your name and increase your book sales), or you can timidly dip a toe in the baby pool, then scurry back into the safety of the shadows. Either way you’re a success since you’re one of few invited to the party.

So. For any aspiring authors reading this right now, here is my message to you: write.

That’s all you have to do for now. Just write. Put from your mind all the other stuff, the pressures, the marketing plans, the demands of being a finally published author. When it happens, you’ll do what you will. And for those of us who are also introverts, and who would rather eat dirt than put ourselves through an intensely public marketing campaign, we can still be authors—maybe not as successful as Maggie Brendan—but we can nonetheless lead productive lives happily plugged into our computers and shielded from the public eye. Like moles. Besides, that way if Oprah or the Pulitzer Prize Committee tries to contact us we’ll be home to take the call. A win-win.

I know, I know. It’s a cowardly approach. But the point of all this struggle is to do what brings us joy (as long as it’s legal, of course). And if writing brings you joy, then write—if being thrust into the limelight doesn’t, then don’t go there. And if you’re courageous enough to go out into the world with your book in hand and your smiley face on the back cover, then march on, my friend, with my admiration and blessing. Just don’t feel like to you have to. That’s what I’m saying.
It’s all about the joy.

PS: Thanks for inviting me to drop by today. I love this blog and have gleaned many a pearl of wisdom and enjoyed lots of chuckles reading the wonderful offerings from such gifted writers. I’m thrilled to be able to add my two cents.


Helen Gray said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this article. The descriptions of all the things an author, especially a new one, must do to promote her/his books had me terrified. The funny thing is, I'm not so much an introvert face to face. But the idea of having to keep a blog going and do all those other things as well had me about ready to give up.

Now I feel better. My WIP is progressing again, now that I've replaced my computer that got killed by the storm. I'm still grieving over the hundreds of archived e-mails and address book I lost--as well as the last 6 chapters of my wip. (Just got those retyped today.)

Again, thank you for presenting the other side of this issue.


P.S. Coffee's on. Timer's set.

Amber S. said...

Thanks for posting this! First of all, can I say that I absolutely LOVE the covers of your books? Gorgeous! :) And as for your advice, I know I could use it right now. I'm not a published author (yet!), and I'm still rather young, but I know that if God has laid a story on my heart I should just write, write, write! I hope that if it is His will I can focus on just getting words onto paper!

Thanks again! And how about some ice cream for all the other late-nighters? Dig in! ;)


Tracy Krauss said...

Thank you for saying what so many of us are thinking! I don't think I'm an introvert, per se, (my personality profile says I'm not :) but I am a procrastinator of sorts, and I have found the whole marketing aspect of being a writer very taxing. Thanks for your 'permission' to write guilt free while all those other duties are waiting!

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Kaki! Good morning. LOVE those book covers! Especially the second one. Just beautiful.

This was probably one of the most encouraging posts I've read on the subject of promotion and marketing.

You really put things in perspective for me when you said that whether we do a little or a lot the point is, we've reached this point. How easily I forget.

Thanks for easing some of the pressure off, Kaki!

Glad to have you back in Seekerville.

Going to dive in to a cup of Helen's coffee!

Hugs all!


Pamela Mason said...

Another note of thanks from an overwhelmed pseudo-extrovert. Like Helen, I'm okay one-on-one, I can even put on my 'game face' at conferences and meetings, but the thought of meeting all that world that lies outside of cyberspace makes me feel like throwing up! I keep telling myself, all in God's time, get the boys through high school & off into college, etc, priorities, write, hone the skill, volunteer with my chapter,on&on....Lurking (which is not my favorite description-- I prefer 'Studier,' is that a word?) & finally posting a comment & writing an email to one person is as far as I can go right now. So I'm in the water, just barely, which is good 'nuf for me at this point. Thank you for giving me alternatives!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Morning, all!!! Helen, G-R-E-A-T coffee. Oh my stars, I love you, man.

When Kaki sent me this she double checked with me to make sure the content wouldn't offend.

I laughed.

There are 15 Seekers. Introverts. Extroverts. Brats.

We all approach this business differently, but with one commonality: publication. We love God, we love romance, we want to be paid for a job well done.

So while I EAT UP meeting with people, chatting it up, telling stories and making people laugh, many of my friends cringe at the idea and Kaki's post says THAT'S ALL RIGHT.

And it is. In Harlequin's well-honed advice packet is this gem of wisdom: The best way to create a strong following is to write great books. Again and again.

I think it's when we complicate things, or rush, that we mess up the simplicity of the goal.

Get published. Stay published. Write.

Sugar-topped muffins. Sugar-topped strudel.

Also, I just finished Pieces of Sky and I loved it. Kaki has a Sara Donati way with words in historical fiction (I know, I mentioned Sara yesterday and it's because as I read Kaki's debut novel that I'd initially seen in a contest three years ago, I 'saw' Sara's style, the humor, the warmth, the strong history. And the sensuality... Kaki did a great job of penning a gripping romance, a page of history opened for us to see.)



Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Kaki, Welcome back.

I so agree. I am here waiting for Oprah, now, as type.

I wish you continued success and I love your covers.

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Open Country is in the mail system slowly winding its way to me. It is a good thing it will arrive after our painting project this coming weekend.

Whatever you are doing is working because your books are the buzz all over the internet!

Continued success, Julie

Melanie Dickerson said...

You know, I thought that once I got a book contract I would instantly become this confident, well-put-together, sophisticated author who would be able to give interviews, talk glibly on the radio, in bookstores, wherever my marketing plan took me. But I was sadly mistaken. I found that I was the same person as I was before--prone to tongue-tied-ness, nervous, timid, and not very good at approaching complete strangers to tell them about my soon-to-be-published book.

Funny how that happens.

Anyway, I'm going to try to do my part, and if I make a fool of myself, oh well!

But Kaki makes a great point. Writing is the thing. Don't worry so much about marketing and branding and all that stuff. If you think marketing is more important than writing the best novel you possibly can, you've missed the most important point of being a writer.

Furthermore, God is in control. Writing has taught me, maybe more than anything else, that I am NOT in control. I couldn't make a publisher publish my book any more than I can make my book a best-seller through clever marketing. If it's meant to be, God will make it happen.

Besides all that, I think Kaki's blog tours are more effective and reach more people than booksignings and readings anyway.

Regina Merrick said...

Thank you, Kaki! So many of the topics covered here at Seekerville have served to take the pressure off. I think some times we do feel like we're being coerced into doing things one way, when there are many ways to accomplish the same goal. I just read on Chip MacGregor's blog the hidden costs of social networking. It's true. We're drowning in a sea of "good things," when what we really need to concentrate on is WRITING GOOD BOOKS. OK, I'll get off now. Must write. As soon as I check my blog. ;)


KC Frantzen said...

Kaki - Congratulations on your latest!! Glad to know it's only 25 yrs to the overnight success. And thanks for your pearls today.

Helen - so sorry about your computer. Three words - external hard drive. My thoughtful hubby just got me a "My Passport essential SE Ultra-portable Hard Drive." Highly recommend it! (We're way out in the country and have power issues. This and the battery back up has saved me several times already.)

If any of the Seekers or friends have trouble with promotion, it doesn't show. You carry yourselves with aplomb. (Love that word. Check some of the definitions on - a hoot!)

Ok - I'm off to "ink" the page. :)

Y'all have a great day.

Janet Dean said...

Kiki, great to have you back in Seekerville!! We love having you here. Especially with your uplifting post! I'm not an introvert but book signings and speeches are still nerve-racking! It's such a relief to hear its okay to stick with what brings us joy. I've kind of forgotten that's what drew me to writing in the first place. Congratulations on your new book deal! Which proves you can still sell and stay in your pjs. :-)

I brought fruit to go with Ruthy's muffins and strudel.


Janet Dean said...

Oops, my fingers hit the wrong key, Kaki. Sorry!

Janet, red-faced for messing up your name

Kav said...

Wonderful advice!!! I've been reading about the angst of publishing long enough now that it's begun to set me into panic mode and I'm no where near having to worry about it!!!

And I just scouted around and found a bookstore in my neighbourhood with a copy of your book in it! And while I scouted I found a ton of rave reviews! I'm excited to get my hands on a copy. So you see -- this little ol' blog has served it's marketing purpose after all. :-)

Kathy said...

Hi Kaki!

Joy in the journey! Thank you for reminding us that we are walking in the steps of our creator when we enjoy creating stories. I love history and words and getting everything in my imagination down on paper. That's my joy.

My journey has been sl-o-o-w but the lessons have been important. I appreciate what Melanie wrote about God being in control. What wise words. If my little book is meant to be published it will be.

Meanwhile I am learning so much from you here at Seekerville, ACFW, and the blogs I follow. I am being mentored by Donita K. Paul which in and of itself is so amazing.

I love the covers of your books, Kaki! Congratulations on your success and even more on your healthy attitude.

Julie Lessman said...

STANDING APPLAUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If ever something needed to be said, Kaki, THIS was it! Most people who know me would not classify me as an "introvert," but I like to say I am an introvert who has the misfortune of having an outgoing personality, and trust me, I am behind you ALL THE WAY on this very wise blog.

When my debut novel came out, I was overwhelmed with what I thought I needed to do promotionally, and as you know, it can literally suck the joy right out of writing, which it did for me. About that time, a very wise lady by the name of Camy Tang told me that if I didn't want to do something (at the time it was starting my own blog, which my agent mentioned would be a good thing), then DON'T DO IT! Instead concentrate on doing what you do best. And so after my fair share of breakdowns, gray hair and sob fests, I finally let those promotional expectations go -- they're not worth robbing you of what you love, which is writing.

Not everybody can be a Mary Connealy who writes five to ten books in a year or a Ruth Logan Herne who can wow an audience with her dry wit and eccentricity, so you have to let it go and ENJOY being where you are because that is where God has you. He is our Publicist and Promoter and He will use our God-given talents and strong points to take us where He wants us to be. And if we push and shove on our own, determined to fit a square peg in a round hole, we will be very miserable indeed.

So, up-and-coming authors, take heed. Kaki knows of what she speaks and so do I. Trust me, I know ... I've got a very patient husband who will verify. And if you don't trust me on this? Give me a call when you're published because I have a very stylish size seven straight jacket with your name on it.


Cindy said...

Thanks for this post! I'm definitely an introvert so it's a good encouragement that it's still more about writing.

I think I could handle all the blog tours and keeping up with social networking but when it comes to face-to-face stuff or radio interviews...ahh, that's when I start to worry :)

Susan Anne Mason said...


As one introvert to another, THANK YOU! The self promotion part of being published terrifies me almost into paralysis!

Thank you for giving us permission to just write and take it as it comes. And we have the power to say "NO" - I don't feel comfortable doing book tours or signings or whatever else. (I'd have to hire Ruthy to pretend to be me!! LOL)

You're so right - it's all about the joy. That's the reason most of us write. And everyone's journey is different. We have to give ourselves permission to do it our own way.

Your story is an inspiration to a lot of us. Thanks so much for sharing!

Have a great day!


Kaki said...

I said it before, and I'll say it again--you ladies who frequent/run/contribute/whatever on this site are the best, most supportive and kindest group on the internet. Thanks for letting me bask in your fabulousness again.

Helen--I agree with KC. You MUST get an external hard drive. It's just a simple, plug-in insurance thing that could literally save your writing life. Do it. And keep writing.

Amber--I was young once and lived to tell the tale. But don't you wait twenty-five years. Keep writing so that when your turn comes, your head shot won't have to be taken through fog. (That's a whole different kind of stress we won't get in to today).

Tracy--your're right, the market aspect can be taxing, but there are great rewards too. Like that first email from a satisfied reader. That was a wonderful day! Keep writing so you can get yours. Emails, that is.

Cheryl, thanks. I love my covers, too. They really capture what I was trying to say. We're kind of at the mercy of our publishers on the cover-thing, so I feel I got really lucky there.

Pamela--great to have you in the pool. And you're right to keep your priorities straight. Living and loving is the best experience you can bring to your writing because it's what will give you the wisdom and experience to say it right. Love the floaties, BTW.

Ruth--again, thanks for all your kind words going all the way back to the contest days. You're a great example of a deep-end diver, and look at the success it's brought you! 4.5 stars TWICE! Way to go!

Tina, I have to laugh. But let's make a pact--if you hear from Oprah first, put in a word for me. I'll do the same for you. HA!

Julie, Julie, Julie. Thank goodness for readers like you. Have I ever told you how much I appreciate your feedback and kind comments on my blog, fanpage, or whatever? It's generous people like you who keep writers writing. Thank you! (And don't be too upset with Hank. He means well).

Melanie--continued success to you! And you're so right. Good writing is its own reward. The rest is great, but the joy is in the creating. Keep it up!

Regina--great insight! Thanks for sharing. And not to worry about the typo. The first thing I ever sold (a magazine article) was credited to Kiki Warner. When I politely pointed out their error, they happily changed it to Kaki Ward. I gave up.

Mary Connealy said...

Kaki, you're advice is right on.

The fundamental job of a writer is to write the best book she is able to write.

All the promotion in the world isn't going to help if you lure people to a book...and they don't like it.

So your first job
You're best job
You're hardest job
you're most fundamental job is always, always, always, to write a great book.

Angela Bell said...

Thanks for the encouragement!
This is just what I needed to hear.

Kaki said...

Thanks, Kav (great name, BTW), And don't panic. As my Berkley publicist says, "just do what you're comfortable with". (Apparently she doesn't know the rule about ending a sentence with a preposition). But she's right. If you're too stressed, you can't write as well as you could. Just write YOUR story, in YOUR voice, on your own time. That's your only job right now.

Kathy, thanks. And how fortunate you are to have a mentor! Good luck!

Julie! Another extroverted introvert. Are we cool, or what? And sooo wise. When I was whining to my agent about the blog tour for PIECES OF SKY, she said, "then stop. Your job is to write good books. Forget the rest." Oddly once I had her permission to end the tour, I no longer felt so pressured, and here I am today! Blogging at Seekerville for a SECOND time! What a country!

Thanks, Jessica. And you, too, Cindy. And stop worrying. You'll do the best you can, and it'll be from your heart, and natural, and exactly right.

Susan--great words! It truly is all about the joy. It surely isn't about the money (very few writers can support themself on their earnings--personally, I'm hoping for enough to get a really cool stove so I can convince my husband to do the cooking since I'm an almost nearly semi-famous writer now and don't have the time), and it ding-dang sure isn't about the fame. So what's left? Joy.

Mary Connealy! See! Even the mega-seller Mary Connealy agrees with me. She just said it more succinctly (another good lesson). Thanks for backing me up, Mary. (Love your writing.)

Missy Tippens said...

Kaki, thanks for the fun and the laugh today! How can someone so funny be an introvert?? I can honestly imagine you doing stand up comedy! :)

You know, when I was younger and took one of the personality tests (the one with all the letters to represent your type), I was barely into the extrovert side of the scale. Then a few years later, I re-took it and was just over the middle onto the introvert side of the spectrum.

What I've found is though I get nervous (shaking, throat closing nervous), I enjoy speaking about writing. I think it's because I enjoy teaching. So I like to accept opportunities to teach about writing even if it stresses me out. LOL

So I agree. Do what we love. But keep the writing as a priority.

I'm so glad you joined us again!

Cynthia said...

Thank you for your article. I love to write--it's a "safe" way to express my inner thoughts, whether it be my stories, journals, or letters. I hate public speaking--how ironic for a teacher, eh? I don't mind getting in front of the kids and speaking, once I know the group, but I hate getting in front of the parents or my coworkers. So I can totally relate. I feel so much relief when my talk is over. For now, I'm happy just to find time to write. :)

Kaki said...

Missy--Hey, it's the same with me. If it's something I'm passionate about I can talk until people drop. But if it's self-promotion...GAG. Can't do it. I stutter, I stammer, I whimper and shake. Not a pretty picture. I hope it will work better for you when the time comes.

Cynthia...then I bet you're a great teacher since it's not all about you, but helping your students. I tried teaching high school and was pathetic. So I admire you for having the patience, wisdom and fortitude to stick with it. Kudos!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Kaki, Kaki, Kaki, you've touched a few hearts here.

I can hear the collective sigh of relief way up here in upstate New York. Yowza, that's sweet talkin', girlfriend.

And Helen, I have a back-up service now on top of sending my work to my e-mail addresses and storing it online. Mine is through Norton (I had a problem with Mozy) and at least I know that not everything will get lost if I go down...

And I'm still lovin' the coffee, my friend! ;) And thanks for the flavored creamer supply. You rock.

Helen Gray said...


I've been enjoying reading all these responses. You have definitely put a lot of minds at ease today, including mine.


Not everything got lost. I had done a backup of all my files--or thought I had! But I had pulled my wip file out of its folder onto the desktop and missed that in the last backup. So my losses could have been MUCH worse.

But the frustrations didn't end there. I've used Outlook Express for years, but when I got the new computer (a big horse with 8G and a Trilobyte) I had to go to a whole new e-mail setup.

Yes, yes, I know you CAN teach old horses new tricks. But so many changes in such a short time have had me whining. Then today I knocked the paint off the ladder. I fired myself, but Ken hired me back because I work cheap (for Cokes) and he doesn't want to paint the window frames!

Oh, I get NO tech help from my husband like some of you mention. He has no interest and refuses to learn to use a computer.

I definitely am planning to get an external drive.


Virginia said...

Great post! I love Kaki's books, I have read both book in her Blood Rose series and can't wait for the next book! I highly recommend these books if you haven't read them! They are awesome and will keep you up all night reading!

Kaki said...

WOW! Thanks Virginia. I'm so glad you like them. They were such fun to write. I'm a little sad that trilogy is over. The next one will be a bit different--a bride series. But I'll sure miss the Wilkins boys.

Tina Pinson said...


My book In the Manor of the Ghost came out yesterday. and I'm already feeling overwhelmed with all the questions, and worries and... well, so your post is most timely. I'm breathing a deep sigh of relief now. And then I'm going to water the garden and get down to doing a bit of ...

As Miss Mary C said, the first job, best job, fundamentally, hardest job... writing.

Debby Giusti said...

Great relief to read your post and realize I don't have to be a Mary Connealy!!! :) (Love you, Mar!)

Seems that others have their act together and accomplish so much. When we look within, often we see only the negatives.

"I'm not working hard enough."
"I'm not on enough blogs."
"I haven't spent enough time at my computer."

Guess that's human nature.

Thanks for giving us permission to pick the path we want to walk. Sometimes I want to market. Usually I only want to write.

Kaki said...

Congratulations, Tina, on your new release! How exciting. And scary. But if I can do it, you can. I'll be watching for you.

And Debby--WOW, yet ANOTHER writer! This website is full of them! And you're right--we're definitely a lot harder on ourselves than anyone else would be. Why is that, I wonder?

Myra Johnson said...

Late to the party but SOOOO glad for this post, Kaki! Oh, my. I am the poster child for Introverts Anonymous (which is what we'd really like to be most of the time!).

A few years ago at a conference appointment, an editor told me her publishing house couldn't even consider taking on a new author who didn't have a platform of at least 5,000. Well, as the most boring person on the planet, I knew THAT wasn't happening anytime soon so resigned myself to the fact that I'd remain unpublished for eternity.

But as Julie so aptly stated, God is our Publicist and Promoter. He can do what a million Facebook friends, blog posts, and Web pages cannot.

Anyway, thanks for giving all us introverts permission to stop sweating what we can't do, do what we feel we can, and trust in what God called us to do in the first place--WRITE!

Audra Harders said...

Kaki! So great to have you in Seekerville today! Of course I missed most of the party, but hey, better late than never!

Introvert suits me just fine, and thank you for giving me permission to be myself. I trip all over my tongue if I have to speak in public and my fingers tumble all over the keyboard if I have participate in chats. Really, I just can't win.

Kaki didn't mention her appearance at the upcoming Crested Butte Writers Conference! I was going to be her room mate in the Cowboy Suite of the Condo Brooks (LOL), but work put the kaboosh on that trip.

It's a small conference but packed with big names. I'm sure you'll will have plenty of opportunities to practice your publicity/marketing skills without even trying! Sorry to miss you, Kaki! Have a great time at the signing!!

Julia M. Reffner said...

Thank you so much for posting this!! I am very shy and its comforting to read your post, because I actually have this semi-fear in the back of my mind if I do get published. I love the internet because like so many of us I can express in writing what I struggle to express in the spoken word. Great post!!

Pepper Basham said...

Oh my goodness, Kaki.
Loved the post. Just for the fun of it.
I'm an extrovert, but a disobedient one. I kept reading - because you are hilarious.
And I'll admit - I'm petrified about all the responsibilities involved in marketing a book, especially with a full-life on top of those reponsibilities- but I don't mind all the 'out there' stuff.

I lecture as part of my job, but piercings aren't usually involved (unless I'm particularly upset with my students ;-). Ink, yes. :-)

Thanks for all the useful info. Great post.

And Helen - oh how I feel your pain. So sorry you lost your info from your computer. That's a tough hit, but I'm glad you have a new computer and are getting back to work on your wip. Can't wait to see your work in print :-)

Kaki & Ruthy,
Thanks for the reminder that the best way to have a 'following' is to write good books. That's the point. And I'm soooo glad (but telling stories to make people laugh is icing on the cake, right Ruthy?)