Marketing Cheat Sheet for Shy Writers

I'm delighted to have Marie-Claude Bourque on my blog today. Marie-Claude is the American Title V winner and author of ANCIENT WHISPERS, a sensual gothic paranormal romance filled with sorcerers and Celtic priestesses in search of eternal love in modern time. She worked as a climate research scientist, a scientific translator and a fitness expert until she turned to fiction writing. She draws her inspiration from the French legends of her childhood and a fascination for dark fantasy. ANCIENT WHISPERS was released by Dorchester-Love Spell on May 25. Find more at

HERE'S MARIE-CLAUDE: Ever since I’ve been scheduled to be Rebecca’s guest, I’ve been pondering how it happened that I, the most shy kid ever, have managed to do a bunch of things that continues to make my mother shake her head in surprise. “This is not my little girl,” she says (in French). “I don’t recognize you.”

The truth is I am still the same very shy girl inside but I’ve continuously pushed through it to do stuff that scares me. I went to college where everyone but me spoke English, I learned to teach aerobics, I ran a big gym staff and trained instructors and I gave many Oceanography talks and lectures. And now I try my hardest to network in the writing industry.

It’s scary, it’s hard. All of it, always.

And if you see me at a party, I’ll still be the one hiding, knitting in the chair in the far corner of the room.

But as I think about it, I noticed that the one thing I do after giving myself super scary challenges, is to take a tiny small step forward. I didn’t suddenly turn into an aerobics instructor, I just signed up for a class and hid at the back. Then I taught in front of my friends, then in front of a small class at a local community center, then hit the big health clubs before training instructors of my own.

We can all get there, as long as we don’t panic and start really, really tiny.

I’ve been thinking about what I have been doing to market ANCIENT WHISPERS and I thought I’d go through a few venues to show what small steps we can take to promote our work while staying safe and shy (because frankly I don’t know how to not be shy!)

(1) Advertisement:
The easiest thing you can do is spend money! I have taken both magazines ads and readers blog ads. Those are easy. All you need to do is talk to a designer who does your ad then the person in charge of the magazine. And you pay them, so they can’t turn you down!

(2) Booksellers
I can’t phone them or even email them. That’s too scary. So I send them mail! A nice letter of introduction, send a cover flat if you have them, bookmarks, a sampler of your book (lots of stapling but all done all by yourself away from people!), and you are done! All you need to do is talk to the guy at the print shop for the sampler and the post office people!

(3) Public Speaking:
If this is not your thing, consider doing group speaking first. Either in a panel, group workshop or group signing. Try your workshop first at your local RWA chapter or small venue where you feel comfortable. The group will carry you through and you will find it much easier if you only have to answer a few questions and talk for 10 minutes.

(4) Online:
Of course, online is a great place for shy people but it is still not easy. I still doubt sending a comment sometimes or an email or a Tweet because it makes me feel awkward. So here are a few things you can do:

(a) Paid advertisement on places like Fresh Fiction, Romance Night Owl or Savvy Authors or more expensively Author Buzz. You pay, they do the work.

(b) Blog tour: if you are shy to ask people to be on their blog, you can use a great service at Savvy Authors that will organize your tour for you (5 blogs). Or the easiest is to start asking blogs that have an explicit “if you want to be a guest” notice on their side bar. It is a lot easier to ask when you know they want guests.

(c) Your blog: If you want to promote it but you worry about what people may say, how about just Tweet it (you can do this automatically so you don’t even see it) or post it on your Facebook wall (same there, register your blog on BlogNetworks and let it post automatically – it’s less stressful!)

(d) Email loops: If you are not sure how to engage in conversation, how about just congratulate people with good news and welcome newcomers. Everyone likes to hear that.

(e) Facebook: If you are shy about commenting, start but just “liking” people status. I do that with an author I admire. I am just too shy to talk to her, so I just “like” her status a lot! If you don’t want to talk about yourself in your status, post a quote or your latest word count.

(f) Twitter: Start by Retweeting things. Retweet your friends’ contests to help them out and follow a few industry or news profiles so you can retweet them to your followers. They may find it interesting. And you can also post quotes you like, and your word count.

(g) MySpace: again for your status, you can post a quote or your word count. To interact and reach out to friends, how about finding a beautiful graphic comment and post it on special holiday. No need to even add any messages to that.

The thing with all this is that these are example of small things you can do to get started. The more comfortable you get, the more people you interact with, the more guest blogs you do, these things will get easier and you will be able to go to the next steps: walk to the bookstore and meet booksellers, present workshops and do signings on your own, ask to be a guest blogger to all kinds of blogs and suddenly find yourself really at ease with a huge crowd of friends online.

The world is big out there and you can make it smaller so it feels more comfortable. But always remember, small steps will get you there.

I’d like to give away a signed copy of ANCIENT WHISPERS to a commenter.

So tell me, is there one thing you’d really like to do for promotion but you are too afraid to do? Myself, right now, I’d love to go talk to a bookseller out cold and just introduce myself. I know plenty of writers who do that but I just can’t imagine I’ll ever be that confident. How about you? Anything?


  1. This is a really good post - very informative. I definitely need more practice with public speaking. It's a very scary thing to do. :)

  2. Marie-Claude--thanks so much for visiting here today. You have some great information.


  3. Great advice! I've heard joining Toastmasters is another way to improve public speaking.

  4. Hi Rebecca,
    Thanks for having me :)

  5. Hi Shelly,
    Practice is the only way to get better at public speaking. Small groups, do it more and more and looking above people's head while you speak is a great help!

  6. Hi Pamela,
    Great tip. I heard that Toastmasters can really help too :)

  7. When I do public speaking (or teach a class) I always scout the room first for several people I know well. Then those are the people I focus on while I'm talking--it almost makes it seem like I'm just talking to my friends. Almost.

  8. I can't imagine just introducing myself to a bookseller either! Eep!

  9. Great ideas, Marie-Claude. Guess I should start tweeting. I think I can come up with 140 characters worth of something to say each day.

  10. Thanks for this post Marie-Claude. I'm incredibly shy and while I know these avenues are out there, I haven't known how to take advantage of them. The big thing everyone is pushing me towards is e-mail loops, but being shy it's hard to speak up and draw attention to myself without looking like I'm, well, trying to draw attention to myself! Anyway, good post once again. I am off to "Like" you on facebook! :)

  11. That's some really good advice. I like the 'like' instead of post for Facebook. I think I'll at least do that.