Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group #2: The Wallflower Diaries

If you're a regular reader of this blog you'll know that I harp on quite a bit about writing being a solitary endeavour. Sometimes it can be a little isolating and I guess that's where blogging comes in to alleviate some of that loneliness. Having said that, I've recently come to realise that part (if not a lot) of the reason I love writing is because it allows me to be a complete and utter loner.
      You see, outside of the blogging world, I am a bit of a wallflower. It's not that I'm super shy so much as I can't be bothered with small talk. Also, I think reading and watching TV has imprinted in me a need for life changing conversation or no conversation at all. I've come to expect the kind of dialogue thrown around by Elizabeth and  Mr Darcy and when all I hear is get to know you chit-chat, I tend to shrug and decide it's more fun to be at home with my own characters than to risk being disappointed by real people.
      This doesn't really help me much as a writer and especially as an aspiring indie writer since I'm going to have to do all of my own marketing and publicity. I suppose I could promote the book on my blog but there's only some much self promotion you can do on your blog before people start tuning out. Besides, I'm great in writing. Just like I'm great on paper. But if you walked up to me on the street the last thing I'd be able to talk about is my novel. Or my writing.
      So I just wanted to throw it out there and see how those of you who have published books/plan to publish books have gotten over the wallflower syndrome. Does it get easier to promote your work without feeling like you're being an imposition? What do you do when a book blogger declines your review request? Am I the only one whose freaking out about marketing my own book? Would love to hear your thoughts!


  1. I didn't even know you were going for the self publish road. Have you already announced when it is coming out, and all that jazz?

    1. No no. I haven't even finished writing! I'm just a very insecure writer. I think I'm 90% sure I want to self publish except for the bit about completely being on my own in terms of marketing. Though ideally I'd really love to have something published by the end of the year.

  2. I wish I was at that point so I could offer you advice, but I'm right where you are now. All I can say is hang in there! I hope a bunch of self-pub authors can offer you their tips and advice in this regard.

    One thing I can say is when it comes to self-publishing, you don't *have* to go out in public to promote your novel unless you want to help spread the word. A lot of self-pub authors just do stuff online, which is time consuming, but you don't have to deal directly with people in person. And I have to say, the idea of dealing with people in person kinda freaks me out, so I'm all for anything that can save me from a little bit of that. Lol.

  3. Wow, Lan, that's SUPER COOL that you finally pick to walk on the path of Indie Writer! Self-publishing sure has a lot of benefits, especially since you can write all the things you want without huge pressure from publisher or agent! I can't wait to read your book, especially since you have such amazing way in writing blog post! <3

    I can't help much since I'm not really a writer, but I'm hoping all the best for you! May your muses stay with you! I know that all the publishing and promotional thing must make you nervous (if I were you, I might hide in my blanket and refuse to write any promotional request!), but I know you can get rid of the wallflower syndrome! Go go Lan! <3

  4. Okay, so obviously I have no advice to give, but I think I'll be watching your comments so that I can figure out the tips too. Like you, I dont like the whole chit chat thing. I give honest effort, but I'm pretty sure chit chat conversation with me sucks. Unless I know someone really well or we have this amazing bond over something I'm in love with (like books or tv or movies) I have no idea what to talk about. I smile and nod and laugh and then slip away to scan the crowd and watch everyone else talk, taking notes of people's body language or things that they say and do in my head so I can include it in my book. HA! That's not to say I like to be left at home. Quite the contrary. I want to come along with my book or something to do and just sit in the midst of the madness and ignore everyone. Do I sound like a wierdo? I hope not.

    At this point, 2 1/2 chapters into my book, I'm thinking I'll go the publisher route. I HATE marketing, and selling stuff. I quit/failed in all my fundraisers as a child and dread asking for stuff. I always think what I do is horrible, so I'd hate self pub. Id constantly think my book sucks so I'd never ask anyone to read it. getting a publisher to read it is different in my opinion. Query letters and all that jazz remind me of class assignments. You turn it in, and if it's wrong, they say no. Then once/if it's picked up all I have to do is follow directions the rest of the way. Sounds a bit lazy, but I'm a bit lazy at times.

  5. I suffer from that as well. "Wallflower Syndrome," never knew it had a name, but it sounds much better than what I call myself (which would be "a hermit"). I fell you. It's really hard for me to talk about my books b/c then everyone wants to know 1) Is it published? and 2) What's it about? I always, ALWAYS, get a little tongue-tied/uptight, especially when I say, "No, it's not published yet," and the light kinda fades from their eyes like "Oh. So, you're not really a writer." Maybe it's just me, but that's how I feel. My kids (dance students) are actually some of the only people I've told and they're young and have no filter sooooooo... Can't wait til the day I can tell them the book's getting published (hopefully, maybe, I'll cross my fingers and toes for me and for you, Lan).
    Have a great one,
    Ninja Girl

  6. Nice post and I am not even that close to having finished, but am interested in the self publishing.

  7. LOL I love how you call it Wallflower Syndrome! x) I find it so hard to believe that you're a wallflower in real life because of how much I adore everything you have to say on the blogosphere! But even if you're not the biggest fan of small talk, I don't think it's a bad thing at all! We're in the age of computers and technology, so a lot of your marketing can be done online or by computer. :)

    And I'm really happy to hear that you've solidly decided to market indie-style! But because of that, I'm sure that there are a few book bloggers that might hesitate to review your book if it doesn't seem like their type of read -- I'm sure that even the best writers get turned down sometimes too! Just don't let it discourage you, Lan, because there are also a ton of bloggers who WILL be excited to read and review your book. There's always some good to accompany the bad, right? That saying works vice versa too, but that's totally okay. :)

    Whatever happens, you'll still have all of us blogging friends cheering you on! GO LAN GO! :) <3

  8. Hi guys,

    As a traditionally published writer I have to tell you that you still have to do a lot of marketing yourself. The only differences are that the publisher sends out the review copies for you and makes up the posters and bookmarks. If you're lucky, like me, you may sometimes get invited along to events such as Supanova, to sign books at the publisher table. And I hate to tell you, but, especially if you're a YA writer, you can't be a wallflower. Your fans want to see you in public and ask questions about your heroine and if you're doing a sequel and did the hero really mean that awful thing he said on the cliffhanging last page of the last book.
    I guess I'm lucky. I'm a teacher,so I HAVE to get up and speak every single day, not to my fans but to Year 8. When I'm at a signing table, I am such a slut! "hi," I smile,"can I tempt you?" at which point they shake their heads or they stop and let me persuade them to go into the shop and buy my book. I go to SF cons and do panels. I do readings. Anything, ANYTHING to sell. And I don't even have to do all my own marketing.
    I know this isn't what you all want to hear. I can only tell you my own experience. This year's Random House gathering before Supanova will be great - they're going to give us all a session on how to market our books - yay!

  9. Great post, Lan, and a very important topic. As an independent author, I can tell you I've walked the road you're looking down, and it's a road you can walk down, too.

    The most important element right now for you is to have a finished product you can feel confident about. When your manuscript is complete, put it through the most rigorous vetting process you can come up with. Make sure you've gotten input from people at each end of your readership spectrum. Once you have a story you're confident in and believe in with all your heart, you're ready to begin walking down that road.

    You're right that most writers are loners. We're introverts who've grown up more comfortable with our own company than the company of others. But we can all learn to take the stage and speak our lines and perform for the audience because that's what it is, a performance.

    It's very common for people like ourselves to suffer from what they call imposter syndrome, where we cannot believe that we deserve whatever success in life we've achieved. We think we're faking it, and sooner or later we'll be found out. But if you've put that book of yours through the fire, you know IT'S good. And who wrote it again? Oh, yeah. You did.

    So to beat the imposter syndrome, or the wallflower syndrome as you so aptly put it, begin with your product. Then make a separation in your head between the role you're about to play as a published author and the private person you've always been, and begin practising your performance as the author. Don't be phony, don't be anything you're not, just BE AN AUTHOR. Take a professional approach to it, the way you would any other job. People will actually meet you half way on this and treat you as an author when you perform as an author. Schedule book signings and readings, make new acquaintances, and when someone turns you down for a review don't take it personally. Take it professionally. Analyze their response, make any adjustments you think might help, and try again. Try again. Try again.

    Then, at the end of the day, you'll find yourself taking a moment all by yourself in which you say, wow, did I actually do all that stuff? Yes, I did! And you'll feel that much less an imposter.

  10. Listen to this man,Lan. He speaks sense. I have a tendency to say," Get over it!" but then I CAN'T be a wallflower in my day job.

  11. I think you could have your MS ready to be published in time for Christmas, which is SOOO ideal. Lucky you! I'll be helping you get it into prime condition, too.

    Anyway, I'm worried about marketing as a self-pubbed author, too. But, I should tell you ALL authors have to market their own books nowadays. Except for the top tier types, everybody else, trad or indie, has to have a blog, and be on Twitter 24/7, or they're not marketing properly. That sounds so awful in so many ways. I don't like the idea of being on Twitter so much.

    But, there are ways for introverted people to still be comfortable while marketing their own books. If you really want to know, I'll point you in the direction of a good indie author who blogs about self-publishing and how to do it comfortably as a wallflower.

    It's totally normal for authors to be wallflowers and hate marketing.

  12. I've SO been there. People at work ask me "how are you" and you just KNOW all they want to hear is "I'm fine." And some days...I just don't want to chit-chat. I want to TALK, really talk - that or be left alone. I've become a LOT more out-going though in the last five years working with my group at Lowes...we have a great bunch that have been with us for a long time, and as I've gotten comfortable there, I've reached out and made friends with a lot of people.

    And my writing? Get me started and I'll talk about it all day. Sometimes I even talk myself up....just a bit. :D

  13. You don't seem shy at all but I guess I probably don't either and, actually, I am. Hmmm, interesting. Sorry, I have no advice, only support. :)

  14. Thanks all for your advice and support! Especially to Michael who has greatly alleviated my fears. It's going to be a long road but I can already tell I'll have some good laughs along with the tears!

  15. Hey Lan, I feel your pain! :) I'm not a wallflower -- I actually love to meet complete strangers -- but I do have a really hard time talking about my writing, mostly because it's so personal and dear to me. Honestly, the thing that has helped me the most is practice. The more I talk about my books to friends, colleagues, and customers, the more comfortable I feel and the better I get at it. It still doesn't come naturally to me, but at least I don't freeze when people ask me about my books, which is what I used to do. Just last weekend, I had to do a short talk to a room of about 25 people, and for the first time, I didn't get rapid pulse or breathy when I spoke -- but it's taken me quite a few years to get to this point.

    I also have a family member who is a professional public speaker, and she has coached me a LOT, especially for my school presentations. You could perhaps look for a 1-day seminar on public speaking or self-promotion.

    Good luck, you can do it!

  16. I'm a huge wallflower in real life. I don't have much advice but I can say that you should be online a lot, along with being off. Use everything at your disposal. You have my full support :D

  17. I like the input by Camille above. I'm great at public speaking and speeches and all that. I always got the highest grade in speech class, and was always called on to durect forum's at open house for my college honors program. Nonetheless, it's one thing to talk people into joining a school where data and polls provide the evidence, or talking people into avoiding smoking or convincing them to start working out and eating healthy. Its a whole other thing to take my soul and thoughts and feelings and ideas and slap them on a piecr of paper naked side up and tell people that I'm not sure if it's going to be the best book you've ever read or the worst but I still want you to read it pretty please. And do that over and over and over again. I have no Idea how!

  18. I am bad at public speaking! I'm trying really hard to get over it, because it's really important for me to be able to get over it. It's a whole lot easier to just sell yourself instead of your book... and that works so much better when you can speak to a crowded room well.

    Here's to hoping that we can get good at it!

  19. If I ever got published, I don't think I could go the indie route. I feel like I'd be mainstream or nothing at all, for the exact reasons you've mentioned. I wouldn't want to publicize my own book! I admire anyone with that sort of courage. (Give me a publicist to hide behind, LOL!) I do say that you should just shrug it off if a book reviewer declines your request. Sometimes certain genres just don't appeal to reviews or they're too swamped to add another book - it's probably nothing personal :)

  20. This is a topic dear to my heart...and one we've talked about via email, Im sure! You know I suffer from writer wallflower syndrome when my own children call me The Hermit. Ive been out and about doing a few book things though and Ive discovered a few things
    * public speaking sucks. I have to write and write and edit my speech many times over before I feel some measure of confidence that i will live thru it. BUT because we are writers, we usually write great 'speeches'. Our delivery may not always rock, but the content is powerful. I practise and agonize heaps and I dont think people realize how much time i put into prepping for a book event where i have to stand up and say something. they say "oh just say a few words..." like its the same as throwing flowers everywhere. Not for me anyway.
    *I went to a book event a couple of weeks ago though where they had prepped a panel to discuss my book. I LOVED it. I got to sit and listen to these super smart people discuss, analyze, critique and generally rave about my characters and setting and themes and more. And then they asked questions and the audience did too and it was like one big chat session all chatting about MY BOOK. It was the best, most funnest book event for me. I was relaxed and enjoyed it because talking casually about my characters etc came easily. And it was fun.
    I think if i can remember that these events and promotions are about my book, something which i have spent hours and months working on, something very close to me that i am the expert on ( Hello!) then it helps make promotion and interviews and speeches much less scary.

  21. As a fellow Wallflower Syndrome sufferer, I'm afraid I have nothing to offer you but support. But I have full confidence in you and think that if you write it, they will come! :D

  22. Stumbled upon your blog through Google, was hooked from the heading illustration and owl on the right. Then I read this post and it was literally like reading my own journal. O_O Say hello to your newest follower! I totally applaud you for wanting to go the independent route. I'm not at the publishing stage yet, but I've done a little bit of research already about marketing these days, and even when going the commercial route most authors still need to do quite a bit of their own marketing and publicity. And yeah, I'm kind of freaked out about that. Will be reading all the above comments now and hoping everyone else has better ideas than me. :)


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