Networking as an introvert can be challenging. Even if you don’t mind schmoozing and collaborating, you’d rather be at your desk typing away with nothing but your thoughts and the ever-advancing cursor.
Fortunately, you don’t have to become a social butterfly to get ahead as an author. Authors like Thomas Pynchon and Harper Lee are famous for their reclusiveness and rejection of almost all PR events.
However, being able to hold a conversation and speak passionately about your ideas and projects does help — particularly if you are attempting to break onto the scene as an indie author.
Creating an Author Network
Authors thrive off their networks. Even introverted authors benefit from bouncing ideas off other creatives and trusted friends. Creating a network of writers can be fun, too — just look at the bestselling author, John Green, sharing an afternoon of writing with friends. Even if you’re not in the process of writing a bestseller like “Paper Towns,” you may still benefit from the camaraderie and opportunities that come from building connections.
You can grow your support network by actively listening to the folks you meet through publishing events and in your day-to-day life. Over time, active listening can help you build trust and become comfortable exchanging ideas. You don’t have to make a dozen connections within a month, either — a few trusted peers can go a long way towards helping you network effectively as an introvert.
Once you’ve met a few fellow authors or publishers, consider hosting an event that brings everyone together. As an introvert, the thought of hosting an event might sound like torture. However, hosting an event on your terms may be what you need to get through an evening of socializing or coworking. You can even promote the event on social media to cut down on awkward encounters and in-person invitations.
Social Media Networking
As an introverted author, social media is your friend. You get to communicate with your peers whenever you want and get to use your greatest skill — writing — to express yourself. Some of the biggest authors alive are active on social media. Writers like Neil Gaiman and Joyce Carol Oates regularly use Twitter to chat about recent events, engage with other writers, and share low-stakes, daily tweets with their followers and fans.
As an indie author, you can also use social media to capture a larger audience for your projects. Establishing a clear, authorial identity online will help would-be readers find out about your work and interests as an author. You can further optimize your web presence by giving folks easy access to the platform where you sell your work.
As a networking tool, social media can help you connect with like-minded individuals who may not live near you. You may usually find that connecting with authors with similar interests to your own is difficult in real life. If this is the case, social media sites, like Reddit and Twitter, can help you connect with similar, creative folks from all over the world.
It’s worth noting that just mutually following other authors on social media is not effective networking. Go an extra step and offer to host online events like writeathons and workshops. Your digital peers are probably looking to expand their network, too, meaning well-advertised digital writing might even be just what they need.
Events and Collaboration
The idea of attending a publishing event or writing workshop might send a shiver down your spine. Even the most competent of authors occasionally shudder at the thought of replacing their slippers and dressing gowns for dress shoes and sleek suits.
No one will force you to attend events as an aspiring author. But, you may find that forcing yourself to schmooze and chat about writing will give you some much-needed momentum.
If you do attend an event for authors, try not to overthink social interaction and focus more on simple steps like smiling when listening. Smiling can reduce stress and improve your social relationships. Folks will remember you to be affable and confident — even if you feel like you’re struggling to keep up with the conversation.
Networking isn’t about constantly firing off emails and going for drinks after every writing session. You can still be a meaningful part of your writing community even if you don’t want to attend every writing workshop or PR event.
Instead of making big gestures, strengthen your connection to your network with a few small touches. Simple things like giving meaningful gifts or a heartfelt message can reassure folks that you do care about them — you’re just introverted and show it differently. As a writer, you can even offer your services as a proofreader to folks who might like a second set of eyes on their work.
When you think of your life as a published author, you probably don’t imagine a diary full of networking events and workshops. However, making it in the writing community is much easier if you are willing to network and get your writing out there. Try using social media to make connections with like-minded folks and consider hosting a writing workshop now and then to bolster productivity and broaden your current network.