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?