Book Promotion for Introverted Scholars

by | Feb 13, 2024

In the current publishing climate, authors are expected to do most of their own book promotion. This situation leads to a common conundrum among scholars: if your disposition is well-suited to writing a book, you might be  less enthusiastic about book promotion. 

Creating the book involves years of reading, researching, and sitting alone with a computer, transforming ideas into text. It’s like catnip for introverts. 

Book promotion, on the other hand, can seem like the opposite. It’s like you’re being yanked out of the library, shoved into a crowded room, and tasked with convincing a bunch of strangers they should buy what you’re selling. 

Of course, it isn’t really this clear cut. Plenty of writers and scholars are great at promotion. More importantly, book writing and book promotion don’t necessarily require different personality traits. However, if words like “marketing” or “promotion” make you anxious, we’ve got some strategies to help. 

Work with your real network

The simplest way to begin is by reaching out to your professional network. Those of us who lean toward introversion tend to value closer, authentic connections. This can make it feel awkward and fake to send a general announcement out to every email address we can find. And spamming inboxes is often what folks inaccurately assume book promotion involves (hint: it doesn’t).

Instead, write the note or have the conversation you’d want to be on the other side of. For example, are there ways that promoting your book can work reciprocally? Do you have a friend who teaches in your field? Consider asking them if you can guest lecture in their class, speak to the club they facilitate, or participate in the brown bag series they’re organizing.

Do you know someone who works at a bookstore, library, or cafe? Author events bring people in the door, so they’re mutually beneficial. This can be especially useful if you’re planning a book tour. Author events like this can be in-person or virtual, so there are options for a variety of needs.

Choosing a professional editing and indexing team with a strong book promotion reputation is an easy way to expand your network as well. They often are used to working with publisher marketing folks and can help spread the word about your new book.

Even if all you’re doing is forwarding an announcement with a personal note, remember that publishing a book is a really exciting event. Your friends and colleagues want to know about it and celebrate with you! 

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Make friends with social media

Whatever your feelings about it, social media has created many possibilities for book promotion that don’t involve face-to-face (or worse, face-to-a-bunch-of-faces) interactions.

If your introverted ways extend to not having much presence on social media, don’t worry—that’s #relatable. There are still ways to organically find your people and expand your reach. For example, find accounts for conferences in your field. Make note of the hashtags they use and include them in your own posts. Sites like Facebook and LinkedIn also have professional interest groups that can help grow your following. 

For deeper engagement, many authors are creating email newsletters related to their books. This approach works best if you start early, but email marketing platforms like ConvertKit and Mailchimp have made the process relatively accessible. 

Being a guest on an academic podcast is another fabulous way to engage readers on a deeper level. The podcast format—usually a one-on-one conversation about your work—is ideal for us introverts. Not only are podcasts hugely popular, they provide the richer, more personal interactions we crave. And as an added bonus, they’re mostly recorded remotely, so you can do interviews at home with a cat on your lap if you want to. 

Prepare your stories and examples in advance

At this point you might be thinking, these strategies are all well and good, but they don’t change the fact that I hate talking about myself! And that’s okay! 

Whether you’re being interviewed for a podcast, writing an email, or posting on social media, your real goal is to connect your book to readers. Personal stories are a great way to form those connections. Telling an authentic story about why this book matters to you helps potential readers understand why it should matter to them. 

So here’s something I do: prepare those stories in advance. When you see people interviewed on television or hear them on the radio or podcasts, you’re usually hearing a heavily edited version created after lots of preparation. For many radio shows, for instance, before guests go on the air, a producer pre-interviews them. For podcasts, hosts usually spend some time up front chit-chatting to get guests comfortable, there are often options for multiple takes, and post-production editing smooths out a lot. 

If you don’t have the opportunity to do a pre-interview or warm up before your interview, doing your own “pre-interview” (or draft) with a friend is an incredibly helpful strategy for soothing nerves. 

Book promotion isn’t only about self-promotion

No scholarly book is the work of a single person. You may have had help with the research in the form of graduate student assistants or librarians. You may have partnered with institutions or community organizations, received grants or conference acceptances, interviewed experts, or bounced ideas off your peers. 

Getting your book into the world required beta readers, peer reviewers, developmental editors, copyeditors, book indexers, and numerous staff at every publisher you submitted the book proposal to. 

Use this time to highlight all of those wonderful people who helped bring your book into the world. This makes it feel less like you’re alone in the spotlight, and it supports the important work all these collaborators do. 

Further, many of those folks will be happy to cheer on your book and spread the word themselves. One of our favorite things to do at Ideas on Fire is celebrate and share new works by #IoFAuthors

All of these tips come down to the same idea: book promotion really just means sharing your work with other people who care about the subject. Replacing the word “promotion” with “connection” makes the whole game a lot easier. 

Cite this article:

Bernstein, Sara Tatyana. “Book Promotion for Introverted Scholars.” Ideas on Fire, February 13, 2024.

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Sara Tatyana Bernstein is the co-founder of Dismantle Magazine and Dismantle Writing Services as well as a freelance writing consultant.

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