Here is a question from Trisha:
I consider myself a deeply introverted person. I write because I can express myself on paper so much better than in conversational settings. When it comes to getting published, how do you think the personality of the author is weighed in respect to publishers and agents considering an author for publication? In other words, does a more bubbly personality get considered over the quiet, or perhaps even awkward type? If it is the case, do you have any advice for the severely introverted author seeking publication?
I suspect that most writers are introverted, to a certain extent. The art of writing is solitary and often introspective. Did you know that J.K. Rowiling is considered an introvert? It hasn’t affected her success.
Ultimately the categories of shy vs. outgoing oversimplifies the complexity of each person’s personality. Let’s briefly explore the topic:
We are in a culture that celebrates the extrovert. The business world, in particular, can reward the successful extrovert. The term “born salesman” is a case in point.
[By the way, Susan Cain has written a tremendous book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. Intended for the business professional it has ramifications in all of life. Visit her site quietrev.com for some great resources on the topic.]
One cannot avoid the fact that an outgoing person at a writers conference will stand out. And the publishers demand for “Platform” points toward an author’s engagement with a significant audience.
If there are two manuscripts with equal strength on the same topic but one author is outgoing and “media ready” and the other is not as ready, which one do you think the publisher will choose?
It is Perfectly Normal
The notion that being shy or introverted is a bad thing is simply wrong. As I wrote above, a lot of writers are inherently introverted. Very few books are written by multiple hands at the same time on the same keyboard. It is a solo venture.
So, embrace who you are. You are the only person who can write your book or communicate your ideas. God knew you before you were formed in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). God is not disappointed.
Start Ignoring Your Self-Talk
Last week Tamela wrote about the dangers of comparison. This is where it starts. “I’m not like so-and-so.” And the journey begins pounding yourself into feeling like no one will ever give you a chance.
The fear of rejection can be debilitating. It is hard for the introvert to be told “no thanks” since it only confirms their worst fears. Moment of Truth: You will be rejected. That is the nature of the profession.
Therefore, the next time you hear that voice in your head, start learning to ignore it. Trust me, the voice will never go away. But eventually the noise is so faint it won’t have power over you. (I know from personal experience.)
Make Your Ideas Unforgettable
I mentioned Susan Cain above. Here is a woman who classifies herself as introverted and yet she ended up doing a TED talk and writing a bestselling book that’s been translated into 36 languages!
Your writing and your ideas are what is going to carry the day. Make your idea one that cannot be “considered of equal strength on the same topic.”
Try Not to Sell Yourself Short
Being painfully shy is something real. The are many who are debilitated by social anxiety and crippling fear. I am not denying that in any way.
Could it be that there is more to you than you let on? Given a chance we might be surprised. So how do you overcome that barrier?
Joining a local writers group may be a first step to acclimating yourself to the community. Then consider going to a small writers conference one day.
Maybe do what one of my clients did at her first conference. She didn’t talk to a single faculty member. Not one. She watched and learned. The next year wasn’t as hard as she became more confident in herself in the environment of writers. Eventually she was able to bring her ideas out for evaluation. She just finished her fourth non-fiction book with a major publisher.
Start putting your work out there. You don’t have to start with a full novel or a full non-fiction book. The periodical market is always looking for content. There is an incredible 100 page section in The Christian Writers Market Guide (Print or online) that lists possible places for your work.
Hope that helps!