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Question of the Month: Introverts on Book Tour

By Posted on 10 3 m read 850 views

How do you make the transition from the person who wrote in private for years to someone who must now help sell that finished book?


Most writers I know—me included—are introverts. And suddenly, when our books are published, we have to wear makeup, mingle, and speak into microphones. Worst of all, we’re asked to help promote our books when we are not salespeople.

The shift can be jarring.

And yet, we worked so hard on our books. We want people to read the thoughts and obsessions that consumed us for years.

So how do we make this shift, and how can we help each other?

First, we must swallow our discomfort and our pride and do what our publisher asks. They want us to post advertisements and reviews. They want us to send out letters and change the photos on our social media pages. We don’t want our publicists and sales reps to tell us how to edit the sentences in our books. Likewise, they don’t want shy, rejection-phobic authors to tell them how to make sales. They simply want us to help them do their job.


What is the most helpful thing we can do for each other before a book’s launch? Pre-order!

It matters, and this is why. Publishers look at the number of pre-orders to help determine which authors to invest their marketing dollars in and whether to send their authors on book tour.

The other important thing about pre-orders is that they are the number one shot authors have at landing on a bestseller list. The first day a book goes on sale is usually the most explosive day of sales. The more sales we’ve already banked, the better our chances.

Here are some links to where you can pre-order The Flicker of Old Dreams: IndieBound * Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Books-A-Million * Target * Turn of the Corkscrew (You can also pre-order more than one copy if you plan to give the book as gifts!)


What is the most helpful thing we can do for each other after a book’s launch? Make some noise!

If we are enthusiastic about a book or simply want to be supportive of an author, our best way to help them is to post reviews or pictures of the cover on FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter, Amazon, GoodReads, and on our blogs. Authors often repost positive reviews, and sometimes the publisher will as well, so this kindness has a way of coming back around.

Some of the folks I need to thank this month… Marilyn Berkman for including me in her WNBA write-up; Marcia Butler for interviewing me on the Creative Imperative Video Project; Virginia Stanley, Director of Library Marketing, for talking about my novel on Under the Radar, Over the Moon; and High Country News magazine for including The Flicker of Old Dreams among its must-reads for books about the American West.


As always, I’ll end by sharing the books I’ve read since my last post (not counting manuscripts I’m editing or blurbing—the bulk of my reads this month.):

Janet Fitch, The Revolution of Marina M.
Vicki Croke, Elephant Company
Leslie Harrison, The Book of Endings

And two re-reads because I love these books so:

Etheridge Knight, The Essential Etheridge Knight
Max Porter, Grief Is the Thing with Feathers

That’s it for now. I look forward to hearing from you in the comments section. Let me know how you deal with getting out of your comfort zone!

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  • GC Smith
    December 4, 2017

    I did order The Flicker of Old Dreams and I think you quite clever and not at all introverted with this great promotion for the book. Brava! It’s genius.

    As for me, I’m no shrinking violet but neither am I a salesperson. I like writing but with my advanced years I’ve lost patience with the submit, wait, submit again, and again, and again process. I sent To Live And Die In Dixie to a number of agents and many of them haven’t even had the courtesy to decline though some have been gracious and complementary with their rejection letters. But they are still rejections, so I’ve gone the self publishing, print on demand, no cost CreateSpace/Kindle route.

    I have some fans and sell a few books here and another few there and fortunately I don’t have to depend on the proceeds. So, sell many or sell a few doesn’t much matter as I enjoy the creative process and consider it the best of hobbies, right up there with reading history, carpentry, auto/boat mechanics, and golf all of which keeps me busy.

    I hope you sell a million copies of The Flicker Of Old Dreams. Meantime, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.

    • Susan Henderson
      December 4, 2017

      I’m trying so hard to at least fake confidence and moments of extroversion this time around. If I’ve fooled you, I’m thrilled! And I worked with someone recently on public speaking to try to stop my teeth from chattering when I’m nervous. Old dog learning new tricks!

      I understand deeply the impatience with the submit and wait process. And I hate when agents disrespect the process so much that they don’t even bother to get back to the writer at all. I think you were right to do it your own way.

      What kind of carpentry projects are you working on these days?

  • GC Smith
    December 4, 2017

    Currently I’m shoring up some problematic floor joists in a rental home that our daughter owns and is selling to her tenant. Recently I built a golf cart ramp into our garage. When we sell and buy a new house I’ll likely be building bookcases and perhaps some trim carpentry if it is needed. I may have to build a backyard workshop.

    • Susan Henderson
      December 4, 2017

      Wow! I’m crazy about these kinds of details. Looking forward to seeing those new shelves. Amazed at how multi-skilled you are.

  • Jessica
    December 5, 2017


    It IS jarring. For me, I felt like the Tin Man in the Wiz of Oz. I had to oil up my joints and get my jaw moving again after spending so long in the writing cave. The help I can offer other writers is to assure them that feeling awkward is common and okay. And, that the awkwardness can get easier to deal with the more events you do. But, not always. And that’s okay too. The nerves never quite go away for me, anyway. Also, practice definitely helps. I like what you did–you got a coach. Great idea. (I really don’t like getting my picture taken, so I’ve made myself do it. My husband has helped me with my posture because slumping does not make for a decent picture! What’s perfect anyway?)

    I’m very excited about your novel because I love it so.


    • Susan Henderson
      December 5, 2017

      Yes! The Tin Man metaphor sounds so right. I’m glad I practiced public speaking because the feedback (I’ll share in more depth when I see you in Boston) flipped all of my assumptions upside-down. She taught me how to breathe, how to feel okay about taking a sip of water, how to think of a reading as a dialogue with the audience. We did call and response — I’d read something and she’d basically think the thought-bubbles that were in her head. I like the permission to have good posture. And our friend’s suggestion to wear big clompy boots. Just to feel more sturdy in the room. The one thing that calms me when I’m in a room full of writers and readers is that most of us are introverts, so it’s kind of like being in a room with your tribe.

  • Ric Marion
    December 5, 2017

    Well, that caught me by surprise. Having been along on the ride through the first book and its success, I assumed you were fine getting out there and promoting your work. Are you sure you’re an introvert? The pictures of you with your cohorts belies that description.
    Anyway. I was asked if I wanted to say a few words at my son’s wedding this summer. Standing in front of two hundred family and friends is a tad out of my comfort zone. Watching the tape, I was struck by how much I sound like Johnny Carson – inside my head, when I’m speaking, I surely don’t hear that voice. By the way, the reference was completely lost on the kids – they have no idea who Johnny Carson was.
    You have to look at this as a challenge, something new and exciting, and something you will learn from, become accustomed to, and thrive on.
    That’s what I love about my salesman job (my other life and the thing that pays the bills). When you walk into a business, you never know what’s going to happen. From the usual joke about shooting every third salesman and the second one just left., to asking about my kids and commenting how well they’re doing.

    One memorable morning, I stopped at a good customer of mine and I could tell right away something was off. We handled our business, but he was just going through the motions. Finally, I asked him what was going on.
    He said, “I was having breakfast this morning and my fifteen year old daughter came down the stairs, threw a EPT on the table and said, ‘Now, what the eff do we do?”
    Like I said, you never know what you’re going to get, but it is usually interesting and that’s the best part of being out there.
    Order is in for the book.
    Really excited about this one.

    • Susan Henderson
      December 6, 2017

      I’m so surprised (and delighted) by your response. I’ve worked so hard on speaking up, taking risks, combatting my self-doubt and self-talk (“No one wants you here… they’re just being nice… they’re waiting for you to leave… read faster because they’re bored… stay in the corner… don’t look up… don’t ask for anything because they’ll just say no.”) I’ve been working on when my voice shakes to just take a breath and then keep going because it’s okay to start shaking, it’s okay if your teeth chatter from nerves. My nickname growing up was Mouse. No one has ever accused me of being an extrovert!

      Love the Johnny Carson surprise! And I agree, I’ve found so many unexpected gifts from taking risks and stepping out of my comfort zone and allowing myself to be bold. And like you say, just being out there.

  • Shelley
    January 16, 2018

    I’m looking forward to this new work. I wish you all of the best in staying centered in the increasing energy leading up to the book’s arrival. I’m shy too. I like the idea of a reading being something of a dialogue. I took voice lessons to make it easier to speak and read, and to enjoy it all. The confidence question gets put aside when I think of what I’m reading and my presence as a gift, as an offering. So my self questioning doesn’t matter because I’m giving a gift.

    • Susan Henderson
      January 16, 2018

      Yes! If it’s a dialogue, a dialogue with a room full of introverts, then it’s about relationship and not performance. I have to keep that in mind. Thank you. I’m also going to sit with the idea of a reading as an offering. (And have to get the image out of my head of this poorly-wrapped thing nobody wants!)


Susan Henderson