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Andrea Hannah: The introvert's guide to planning a book launch

Andrea Hannah is one of those writers you stumble across during a night’s procrastination and can’t help but blindly follow into the beautiful unknown thereafter.

Aside from her sublime writing advice (see and The Secret Life of Writers), she’s also a force of charm, wit, and superhuman work ethic on Twitter (@andeehannah)—juggling a job, two kids and yet still writing more than you and me put together. (And then tweeting about it.)

Her debut novel Of Scars and Stardust releases next week (8 Oct in the US) and, as is usual with these things, there will be whole big launch extravaganza.

Now, I don’t know about you, but the idea of having to be social or sell myself usually shuts down the writing side of my body, so that I become a limp, awkward mess. And I already knew that Andrea was a self-professed introvert. So I decided to ask her FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT'S GREAT AND GOOD, ANDREA, HOW THE HOLY HELL DOES AN INTROVERT WRITER PREPARE FOR THE MOST PUBLIC OF PUBLIC THINGS—BEING IN THE SPOTLIGHT FOR THEIR OWN BOOK LAUNCH?

And, fortunately, she answered...

It’s no secret that I tip toward the “I” on the introvert/extrovert scale, as plenty of writers do. On any given day, my Twitter feed is usually flooded with my borderline obsessive need for one of the following: quiet, alone time, a nap, a book, alone time, to shut off my phone, cake*, and alone time. Not to say I don’t like people and all that, but...yeah, alone time.

So when I was planning my very first book launch signing, panels, and parties, the thoughts flitting through my mind were: “But there is no alone time. What will I do? Will I shrivel up and die? No, seriously. WILL I DIE?”

Good news! I’m a few days away from my launch party and panels, and I’m still alive and well. I’ve collected a lot of life-saving advice from fellow introvert authors, and figured out how to avoid some pitfalls on my own along the way. Here are my top five tips for getting through (and even enjoying!) the marketing part of being an author:

  1. Let your swag work for you. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to invest in a ton of swag when I started planning my launch, but I’m glad I did for several reasons. First of all, I can convey a whole bunch of information on my swag if done right, and that means there’s less talking/selling I have to do in person. Example: I had these gorgeous oversized postcards made with SCAR’s cover on the front, and a synopsis, contact information, and types of events I’m available for (Skype interviews, classroom visits, workshops, etc.) on the back. These things have been gold thus far. I’ve given them out to librarians, teachers, and booksellers and have only needed to be friendly and social instead of trying to sell my product and services. Which brings me to the next two points...

  2. Ask other people to do the selling. I don’t know about you, but I’m always way more excited to talk about other authors’ great books than my own. Again, I think it goes back to my aversion to “SELL! SELL! SELL!” One strategy that’s worked to get the word out about my launch parties and signings is to pull in as many awesome people as possible. Social media is a powerful force, and word of good books and events spreads like wildfire. Let some of your friends tell everyone they know about your book and launch party so you don’t have to over-promote. And speaking of other people, why not set up some of your first events with other authors? My first two panels will be with seven other YA authors in my area and even though they’re live events, I’m really looking forward to them. More people = less pressure.

  3. Introverts need a street team, yo. Related to the point above, a street team will get people to your events without you needing to beg. Because of my local street team members, I have a bunch of extra people coming to my launch that I don’t even know, and several local libraries have ordered my book. (And they also ordered my launch cupcakes for me. How cool is that?) Plus, even more valuable than that stuff is the sheer goodwill they’ve showered me with over the past few months. All of the supportive texts, emails, and phone calls have helped get me through this crazy time, especially since I know they’ve got my back.

  4. Prepare, prepare, prepare! I can’t emphasize this point enough. I’m an introvert, but I’m not shy, so I’m not super worried about screwing up in front of the spotlight. What I’m really worried about, though, is crashing and burning after an event because it takes so much energy to pull off one of these things. The best way I can not go into a coma afterwards is to prepare my speaking points as much as possible. Re-read your excerpts before an event. Write out a short introduction and practice it. Play around with how you’d answer some common questions (Ex: “Where did you get the idea for this story?”). This way, I can conserve all of my energy for mingling and being generally charming the day of the event, instead of over-thinking my speaking points and expending energy I don’t have to spare.

  5. Assign someone to run interference. When it comes down to it, all introverts need down time to function; it’s pretty much in our DNA. So the weeks leading up to the event, and after, I’ve assigned my husband to run interference from energy-drainers for me while I rest up. This includes physical energy drainers, like my screaming toddler, but mostly includes any kind of stimulus that keeps me from recharging. Some of these things, for me, are: excessive texts/emails/phone calls, unannounced visits, unnecessary social obligations, and anyone who’s a vortex of negative energy. My husband is great about letting family and friends know that I’m busy and will respond to emails later, that visiting isn’t a good idea right now, and then delivering me a bowl of ice cream in bed.

I’m sure I’ll come up with some other tips and tricks as the events get closer, but these ones have kept me alive and well for now. Got any I’ve missed? Share them in the comments!

[First published Friday 3 October 2014]


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