Blog

Will Only Those Who Shout the Loudest Be Heard?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Many writers I rub shoulders with claim to be introverts. They recharge when they’re alone. They don’t mind spending hours holed away as they work on their stories. And they find fresh energy by delving into inner thoughts, exploring feelings, and probing the depths of their imaginations.

Of course, not every writer is an introvert. Some are extroverts who thrive on being around people and who are refueled from the energy of others. They have a harder time sitting alone at their laptops and have to take frequent breaks from their writing and get out of the house to be with people.

All of us fall somewhere on the spectrum from being painfully shy to an outgoing people-person.

The question I’ve seen raised around cyberland occasionally is this: In today’s noisy publishing industry where we have the constant clamor of online social media, are extroverts more likely to succeed? And likewise, are the shyer introverted writers doomed to obscurity?

In other words, since we’re all clamoring to be heard, to draw attention to our books, to get noticed, are those who shout the loudest going to have the most success garnering attention?

I don’t think introverts are doomed. And I don’t necessarily think extroverts are going to dominate. And here’s why:

The internet can level the playing field. 

Perhaps socializing comes easier for extroverts, even online. Perhaps they have a quicker wit and an easier time finding things to say. But usually I can’t tell the difference between the tweets or facebook comments of introverts versus extroverts. Introverts can add smiley faces and exclamation points and sound just as exuberant as anyone else, even if they cower behind their screens.

Even if interacting online is difficult or a “chore” or even painful, no one else will know—unless we complain about it (which is unprofessional). After all, we wouldn’t go to a book signing and grumble through the whole thing. And we shouldn’t do that on social media sites either—even if we’d rather not be there.

Instead, if introverts put forth a professional, confident, and successful attitude, most people are going to perceive them that way. The internet gives them the ability to put their best foot forward and hide the nervousness.

Sometimes the “shouting” turns into white noise. 

Those who talk the loudest often get ignored the most. I don’t know about you, but if someone tweets too much, my eyes start to glaze over when I see their comments. Even when they might be saying something really important, it gets overlooked because I’m not paying attention to anything they say anymore.

So being loud and witty and dominate on social media doesn’t necessarily equate success. It can in fact backfire so that people consider us obnoxious, particularly if our noise is mostly about numero uno.

Consistency is more important than quantity. 

Talking, tweeting, or blogging a lot isn’t the key to social media success. I’ve seen some writers jump into social media with flaring, flaming fanaticism. They burn brightly for a short time, seemingly everywhere all at once. But then eventually they fade out of sight like a meteor.

Those who work at having a steady, disciplined, consistent presence will burn like a star. They’re there for the long haul. No I’m not advocating that it’s okay to only post once a year on as long as we’re consistent with that once a year. The fact is, we need to remain visible.

One thing that helps me be consistent is having a social media notebook handy. I use it to jot down blog ideas as they pop up. I keep a running list of marketing ideas I’d like to try. I also sometimes make notes of tweets or facebook comments that I can use on those “blah” days when I don’t feel like I have anything to say.

And as always, we can look for ways to encourage. We may not always feel like we have something witty or worthwhile to say, but we can find ways to jump into the conversation and cheer others on.

Summary: No matter our natural bent, we have to go into the publishing process with the expectation that we’ll have to step out of our comfort zones. In the olden days, authors accepted the fact that book signings and speaking engagements would be part of the job—whether introvert or extrovert we expected to do them (and many of us still do them--I have three speaking engagements in March).

And the same is true today in our online marketing. We have to accept our online interaction as part of the job whether we're introverted or not. In fact, we need to do more than accept it. We need to make it a priority (but that’s the makings of another post!).

So what about you? Are you an introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in between? How hard or easy is online socializing for you as a result of your personality?

41 comments:

  1. Thought-provoking post, Jody! I'm definitely more of an introvert. Part of the reason I haven't started with Twitter or FB yet is that it all moves too fast for me. Clever retorts, funny witticisms... sometimes I just don't know what to say. A big reason I love blogging is that it moves at a slower pace and one's thoughts are expounded on, so I get to know people better. I think what you said about consistency is so true, but even when I lapse in that area on my own blog, I still enjoy reading and commenting on others' blogs (consistently :P).

    I recently ordered a new book that sounded interesting... It's called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. I believe the author addresses how introverts have always been considered flawed b/c they prefer to listen and process rather than speak up in meetings, etc. We'll see if it's helpful in the realm of social media! Also, I think there is a difference between shy and introverted, do you? I have a close friend who is outgoing, but still introverted in that she needs solitude often, whereas I'm introverted AND sometimes shy, lol, double whammy! I'll be staying tuned here to see what others have to say.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think I am one of those meteors that burned bright, then fizzled away. I was really into the whole Twitter/FB/blogging scene, but tried to take the advice of so many to focus on writing. I don't comment as much on other people's blogs; I don't tweet as often; I don't blog as often. It truly is a hard balance and I haven't really found my groove.

    Great post...it made me think.

    ReplyDelete
  3. My results: INFP. But that always throws me because I've learned how to be an E. As you mentioned, it's part of the career.

    And I'm growing to like it more and more because I've met valued friends like you along the road (although you'd be the one sprinting ahead).
    :D
    ~ Wendy

    ReplyDelete
  4. Barb, I agree. There is a difference between being shy and an introvert. I think shyness is something we can learn to overcome through practice interacting and gaining self-confidence. But being an introvert is just how some are wired. It just makes this new social media platform building a bit more of a challenge, perhaps. But I definitely don't think introverts should feel inferior.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sherrinda, I sounds like you're doing the right thing in pulling back a little from social media and focusing on writing. I think "younger" writers may put too much pressure on themselves to build a web presence, instead of just using social media to learn and make friendships and build community. Do you think that extroverts can use social media to procrastinate, since mingling and chatting with other people fills their tanks?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wendy, great comment! I think that many introverts can learn the skills they need to operate like an extrovert in social settings, including online. I think we're striving to be well-rounded professionals. Because let's face it, in today's publishing industry, writers can't afford to stick their heads in the sand. They have to get out and interact.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm glad you wrote about consistency. I agree that there are so many people who make a big splash to begin with, and then fade. Slow and steady and all that, right?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Another fabulous blog post, Jody. Wow!

    Overall, I'm a natural extrovert who likes to tuck in and stay at home when refueling. I definitely have introvert tendencies. Online, I go back and forth. I love social media, but I'm often shy when interacting with authors and more experienced writers. I'm still trying to find a comfortable fit.

    I do agree that those who "shout" the loudest won't necessarily be the most successful. There are some tweeter/authors who never, ever seem to take a breath. (I'm guessing they are scheduling tweets.) After awhile I don't pay attention to what they are saying. Sometimes I unfollow them. And yet, there are others who offer such good info (and often in support of others) that I don't mind a large number of tweets filling up my twitter stream.

    It's definitely a balance, but I think it can be done.

    Thanks again for your post! Your site is fast becoming one of my favs for good, solid advice and perspective.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Liza, I've found that slow and steady has definitely worked for me! I haven't had any major spurts or increases. It's all been a steady uphill climb.

    And Tracy, thank you for the sweet words of encouragement! I appreciate that! Yes, I admit, I've had to take a follower or two out of one of my twitter lists because they've "shouted" too much, particularly about themselves. I haven't stopped following them technically. But I don't pay attention to what they say anymore. So, no I don't think it pays to scream the loudest in order to be heard! Not a good marketing technique. LOL :-)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Love this post!

    I'm a painfully shy introvert, and even interacting online can sometimes be difficult. I always feel like I can't be as witty or exuberant as the next Tweeter/blogger/etc.

    However, I do agree that the Internet has levelled the playing field by a mile. I am nowhere near as introverted online as I am offline. And that's amazing, for me.

    And it's definitely true that too much shouting can turn into white noise. There are bloggers and tweeters whose posts and tweets I skip over because of oversaturation.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great post, Jody!

    I'm not sure exactly where I fit. Generally speaking, I'm not a life-of-the-party kind of guy. I'm more likely sit and listen, and throw out an occasional comment or pun.

    That approach seems to work pretty well, though, in social media settings.

    Still trying to find the right balance...and by this time I'm not even sure that balance is a constant. Some weeks I spend a lot more time on social media sites than other weeks, and I think that's okay.

    I do shoot for consistency on the blogging. I try to post once a week, and shoot for solid content. I do try to break up the level of intensity of the content, though.

    Thanks for the post!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Awesome post Jody! Don't forget online introverts are not obscured and talked over by extroverts so it is a more level playing ground, which can give them too much confidence sometimes. *hides*

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm in between. I used to be shy around people I didn't know, but then people thought I was a snob. And when my husband and I became leaders of a Sunday School class, I had to get past the shyness. I am more confident and outgoing -- in person and online -- because of that experience.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm definitely an introvert. I've found the biggest way it has affected me on social media is that I often write a tweet, Facebook status, or comment and promptly delete it before posting it. On one hand, it saves me saying something without thinking it through. On the other hand, I tend to filter myself more than a lot of other people. I think that's just my natural tendency to over think things before I put them out there.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Loving the discussion, everyone! Thank you all for chiming in!

    And Julie, I hear what you're saying. I've heard other introverts say the same thing about analyzing comments and tweets before posting them. The filtering CAN be a good thing! If we're hoping to come across as professionals, then we do want to be careful about what we share, don't you think?

    ReplyDelete
  16. True. It keeps me from ranting on social media and saying something I would later regret, which is a good thing. :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. We are all encouraged to use social media to get our names out there, but I find myself not reading most of the posts. When someone puts ten posts up at once and they aren't saying anything, I do tune out. With so much 'horn tooting' it just seems like cacophany. I'm not convinced of the value of this social media.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Karina, The "noise" has definitely increased over the past year or two. As more and more authors clamor to be heard, it's becoming more challenging to rise above all the white noise. Overall, I think we should never loose focus on striving to write a book that will resonate with readers, because ultimately that's what's going to set us apart.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi Jody,
    Boy did this blog post hit the spot. I am an introvert at heart but reaching out as an extrovert. I can do much more in writing than speaking as I can think things out before I post them. That's where I like the social media.But I am learning the speaking part more and more as I go out into the public with my author visits.

    ReplyDelete
  20. You've been reading my journal musings, haven't you? LOL! I'm definitely one of the introverts... a shy child and quiet adult... but stepping out of my comfort zone to start my own business several years ago has made a difference in how I handle my writing commitments. I think I've become a pretty good actress, adept at putting on a persona to suit the situation. Still, I'm definitely more comfortable behind the screen than out on stage.

    ReplyDelete
  21. You have put into words what I have been mulling over for a while. Despite my dread of technology, social media is perfect for me, an extreme introvert. I can interact as much or as little as I choose and at my pace. I'm not pressured to respond instantly, off the top of my head. I can sit back and think a little, then formulate a response that fits me. And, as people respond favorably, it boosts my confidence and shoos away some of the shyness. Finally, I hope it benefits them as I contribute and not just sit in a corner feeling awkward. Thanks for the encouragement!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I've always been an introvert, ever since I was a kid. Even though I have friends now (I didn't, really, when I was in grade school) whose company I enjoy, most of the time I like to be on my own. I can't really explain why; it's just that I've never been very comfortable at parties or clubs. And I think the fact that I'm an introvert is one of the reasons I've resisted joining Facebook, because it would require a level of interaction that I'm not really interested in.
    But you're totally right that all writers have to engage in some social interaction if they want to be heard. I've found several writers whose work I enjoy through blogging, for example. And it's often easier for people to express themselves online than in person.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I've always known I'm an introvert, but now I also know why I can't stop with the exclamation points and smiley faces! :)
    Great post Jody.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I think folk would call me an extrovert. Why? Probably 'cause I like to chat with people.

    IMHO, there is a difference between those who are extroverts, and those who simply generate noise. Successful extroverts seek to build relationships. They don't just talk. They also listen. They start dialogues.

    Noisy people? They simply 'dump information' even if that information is 'look at me, I'm cool'

    Introverts can probably find success in this social networking world as well. Just pick and choose who you chat with. Doesn't matter how many, just who. And if ya chat with an extrovert who can advocate for you? All the better.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Being an introvert has always been a struggle for me when it comes to interacting with others, even online. I don't tweet or comment on blogs as much as I should at all simply because my personality is the "observer", so either way it's difficult for me to interact and become part of the conversation. I completely agree though - those who "shout" the loudest (even in person) often become overlooked. I definitely think being professional and confident are qualities an introvert author must have when striving to get their voice heard.

    Thanks for sharing! =)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thanks, Jody!! This is exactly what I needed to read today! (Definitely Bookmarking the page!)

    ReplyDelete
  27. I am new to blogging, tweeting and Facebooking. (If there is such a word.) I've written one book and probably own't write another one. It is self published and I bought the entire marketing package.

    To me, it felt like I put a letter in the mailbox and wanted to get it back out. Now I feel like waiting all night for the mailman so I can rip it out of his hands when he takes it out of the mailbox and before he puts it in his sack.

    My book is called Why Whisper? Which is a true story about the suicide of my son, and the passage my family went through to surivive it. Marketing my son's death is more than difficult.

    I am trying to teach people two things; they are not alone and they will wake up tomorrow morning. They will live again and laugh again... And that life still has meaning in the worst of circumstance... that is all.

    I'm niether introvert or extrovert, but I have a message and I know with all of my heart, I am just a means of transportaion for a son that is no longer on this earthly plane, and he will never die. This train is moving and I can't stop it.

    How does one use social networking to send that message?

    I'm working on it.
    Thanks,
    Jo

    ReplyDelete
  28. Jo,

    Wow. Sounds like you really have a important message for hurting people. In your case, you might be able to target more specific websites that deal with grief and loss. You could offer to guest post or do book giveaways. You could even offer to speak at local grief groups and start to build a platform with sharing your story with others in your community (which you may have already done.) You could center your blog around the themes within your book and use your blog as a place to minister to others going through similar circumstances. The sky is the limit! I wish you all the best!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hi Jody,
    Great post, as usual!
    I think I'm an extrovert, but I don't like telling the world what I am doing every minute. I felt forced to join twitter, but still don't get the need for it. Some people say they tweet four times a day. Don't they have enough other things to do? I find that I have enough trouble focusing on my writing without facebooking or tweeting all day; however, I do look at them briefly, even if I don't post. I finally got a blog last year after I decided it would be something with substance and not sure self-promotion. Which is something else I'm not very comfortable with. I can sell anything since I was in sales for many years, but talking about myself all the time makes me feel very selfish.
    You wrote about balance one day and that is my word for the year. Now, I just have to find it, which is my daily prayer.
    Thanks for being honest about these issues.

    ReplyDelete
  30. This is a stunning insight, Jody. I get so many Facebook notifications, etc. that I'm afraid my email box will one day explode.

    ReplyDelete
  31. As an introvert, social media is a boon! I can interact with people online who I would never dare talk to face-to-face or on the phone (my least favourite means of communication!). But even then, I sometimes find it a strain to keep on with the tweeting and facebooking.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I can be perfectly content on my own, but I also do fine in large social groups. I think I thrive most in more personal, one on one conversation, though. I can be a bit slow to open up in larger groups, old insecurities come creeping back.

    I'm so glad for the internet. It's never been so easy to keep up to date with friends so when you do get together next, you already know all the stuff that's been happening and have more time for doing new things.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I'm definitely an introvert Jody as I love the fact that I can 'hide' behind my keyboard. :) I find that people who shout the loudest about themselves a real turn-off, so they're not doing themselves any favours there. I agree that consistency is the key; a rule I've been trying to maintain since I began on social networks.

    Thanks for another thoughtful post Jody, and I might have to start making my own social media notebook.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Overall, I enjoy social media although there can be a lot of "noise" and as writers we should prepare for how to deal with that.

    I am aware of some people who schedule their tweets, these I tend to overlook and ignore. In the rare case that it becomes extreme, I will unfollow.

    My inspiration has always come from "The Tortoise and the Hare." Great content, building relationships, and slow, steady, and consistent will succeed every single time.

    You may be shocked to learn that I blog once a week, and I tend to share my links once a week. Yet, Jan. 2012 is one of the highest monthly views I ever had. Deeply encouraged by that I say slow, steady, and consistent is what will last.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I think I'm both (introvert, extrovert) at different times, but my husband (a true introvert) would probably disagree!

    Consistency is truly key. I've had people I never talk to IRL say, "I always love reading your little snippets about your kids" (FB) or "I love those emails you send out" - people won't always respond, but they do notice!

    ReplyDelete
  36. As usual, I completely agree. It gets really tiring to see the same tweets or status updates over and over.

    I'm an introvert who truly likes people. I can be very outgoing...but I end up exhausted afterward and that's when I need quiet to recharge.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Oh, I consistently test as an INFP too. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  38. I am an introvert, but over the years, I've learned to be more outgoing when the situation calls for it. It's easier to do when I'm talking about my favorite subjects such as writing, but harder when I'm around people that I have absolutely nothing in common with.

    I agree with your post, Jody. I think that the Internet actually makes it easier for an introvert to be more social. Example, if you Facebook friend someone before you meet them in person, it's often easier to talk to them.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Thanks for chiming in everyone! And Brandi, I've really enjoyed meeting in person some of the friends I've made online. When we meet, it's like getting together with old friends!

    ReplyDelete
  40. I found your site though Tracy Brown's "Write On" and I'm glad I did.
    I can hold my own in a social setting, but I find myself much more content alone at my computer. Through my writing, my blog and sometimes Facebook, I can write what I'm thinking and then edit until I'm happy with it.
    In social settings I usually end up thinking "I should have answered that way" or "I should have said that."
    When I can write my words down, I can get my meaning across so much easier.
    As for Twitter, I haven't got that one figured out yet...(smile)

    ReplyDelete
  41. Hi Karen, glad that you found my site and that you found it helpful! Wishing you all the best in your writing and with social media!

    ReplyDelete

© All the articles in this blog are copyrighted and may not be used without prior written consent from the author. You may quote without permission if you give proper credit and links. Thank you!