How Shy is Shy?

Please help me welcome multi-published romantic suspense author Mary Montegue Sikes to the blog.

I love meeting and reading about all sorts of people and can very much relate to the shy ones. The people I’m reading about on your blog don’t seem as shy as I expected, but they may be hiding behind a brave persona.

For those very shy souls among us, I’d like to rant a little about the difficulty of self-promotion, especially in the area of selling books. I know quite a few writers who excel at self-promotion and at book sales. They know exactly where to go and what to say to get the right gigs. With their extroversion, they are able to obtain speaking engagements at conferences all over and at libraries, clubs, and other places in their home communities as well as areas near by.

Reserved folks don’t seem to have such an easy time. The ones I know shy away from self-promotion yet
they know they must do it if they want to make book sales. I’m acquainted with one author who actually feels sick to the stomach when she does book signings. She is just that introverted.

All this introversion started me thinking. Maybe a shy writer should start a blog. That would be the first step. Then he or she should start visiting other blogs and making posts. Eventually the timid blogger would become a guest on some of the other blogs where she/he might gain followers.

The Internet is a safe place for the introverted ones. They gain followers when no one is looking! I’ve been following several bloggers who started out with a very small, under ten following, who now have followers numbering in the hundreds.
How do they do it?

They make a plan. They create something of interest to readers—a book give-away is one possibility. One author even has her dog make the drawing each week.

A Halloween costume party is another promo event I’ve been watching. Post a photo of your costume for the day. Who has the best costume over a two week period. Let blog readers cast a vote. It’s a fun competition for all.

Book covers. Quite a few blogs have competitions for the best covers and the readers decide. The prize is simple. The victor can post about winning the contest for the best romance cover for the week.

I’ve decided the best way to overcome shyness is to bite the bullet. I have a new book out, Night Watch, that was released in early June. Since that time, I’ve somehow avoided the p
romotion my book needed as I let several weeks of trips take precedence in my life.

I appeared on a radio show but didn’t follow through to gain necessary recognition or the book sales gains that might be attached. I’ve had one book-signing that turned out to be a non-event because the bookstore failed to publicize. Lesson learned—no matter what they promise, publicize all events yourself.

Now, I’ve decided to create a blog book tour for my novel. I’ve lined up seven hosts and have a diverse set of posts planned for each stop on the seven different dates. I’ve been watching and learning from other blog book tours and have been impressed with the results I’ve seen on theirs. I don’t know if what I will do will approach their efforts or their results, but I will never have a chance if I don’t try. If nothing else, this can be a practice for an even bigger event in the future.

For now, I know that all writers, introverts and extroverts, must focus and follow through. If you don’t, you fail before you begin, shy or not.

Thank you, Rebecca, for having me as your guest. And congratulations to your sister on her new book!

Mary Montague Sikes is an award-winning author, freelance writer, photographer, artist, and teacher who loves to travel, especially to exotic tropical locations. The settings for her books and articles include Jamaica, Antigua, Trinidad, and St. Martin. Her most recent research trips carried her to Los Cabos on the western coast of Mexico, to Yellowstone National Park where she took over 500 photographs, and to Carmel-by-the-Sea where she marveled at photo opportunities wherever she turned.

The Fredericksburg, VA native is author of five award-winning books. She presents workshops on promotion and marketing to state and national conventions as well as to many local writers groups. Hotels to Remember, a coffee table book that includes the Jefferson Hotel, the Homestead, and the Hotel Del Coronado is illustrated with her artwork and photographs.

A founding member of Virginia Romance Writers, she has served on the Board of Governors of the Virginia Writers Club and is a member and past president of the Richmond Branch of the National League of American Pen Women. Her poem and paintings are featured in Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln, an anthology of work by members of the National League of American Pen Women. She is included in Who’s Who in American Women.

Her paintings are exhibited widely in Virginia and are in private and public collections in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. Night Watch, her latest novel, was released earlier this year. Dangerous Hearts, a novella set in Virginia, was released by Red Rose Publishing in June.!/monti7


  1. Monti, I am introverted by nature, so online was my best option. I didn't think I could do it here either, but somehow, it's all worked out.

  2. I used to be so shy I couldn't lead two people in silent prayer!
    But a motivational training program prompted me out of my comfort zone. When my first book came out in 2004, I knew I couldn't be shy, so I cranked the spunk and attacked promotions with enthusiasm.
    Sometimes I scare myself! LOL

  3. Alex and Diane, you both amaze me by what you've accomplished. I understand what it's like to be naturally introverted, Alex. Taking a motivational training program sounds like a great idea, Diane. And I love the name you came up with for your blog. Now that's motivational!

  4. Monti--thanks so much for being on today. I loved reading more about you in your bio--what kind of medium do you work in for your paintings?

    You mentioned being surprised that my readers seem less shy than you expected. I think a lot of us have learned to fake it. I'll make myself do things even if I'm DYING inside and just want to go hide in a corner. :)Plus, over the years, my shyness has waned a bit, but I'm still a huge introvert at the core.

  5. Thanks for asking, Rebecca. I paint with acrylics, watercolors, mixed media, pastels and more. I used to paint in oils but found that I could get most of the same effects with acrylics which dry quickly and clean up more easily.

    I understand about faking it to hide shyness. We often have to do just that!

    Thanks again for having me as your guest.


  6. Monti, I don't think about you as a shy person. I have a feeling most of us would rathre be writing. When we have to be "on-stage" it's like playing a part. Though no one believe it anymore, I'm truly a shy person--when I have to speak or be in charge of something, I take on a whole different persona.


  7. Hey Monti - thanks for this post. I am extremely introverted, and like you say, I know that's not the best thing for book sales, so my ambition (ha ha, which is to actually make a living from writing one day) drives me to learn how to do things I'm not naturally good at. I'm still somewhere on the path between terrible and competent at public speaking - but I'm encouraged by the fact that I'm headed in the right direction.

    My advice: consider it a challenge - forgive yourself for starting out at whatever stage you're naturally at (in my case, it was paralytic terror), and enjoy your learning curve as you get better and better (and speaking becomes more and more natural).

    Good luck - you can do this!

  8. Monti, what a great post and so relevant to me. I'm trying to build a platform on shyness, using the blog as my vehicle. Your tips are great. I'm sending the link to your post to all the writers in Hillcity Writers here in Lynchburg. I know they'll love it, just as I did. Thanks for your time. And Diane, your charming quip about leading two people in silent prayer was a gem. I laughed out loud. Good luck to all!!

  9. Marilyn, I don't think of you as shy at all. You hide it well!

    Robin, I thought of you when I considered how wonderful it might be to join a public speaking group!

    Vonnie, thank you! I learn so much from everyone I meet, both in person and electronically!

  10. Monti, the internet and social networking on it has done so much for shy writers to be able to put themselves out there a little easier. Beautiful cover on your book.

  11. Thank you, Jill! It's really fun to meet so many new people this way.

    Thank you again, Rebecca, for having me as your guest. I've enjoyed being on your site.

  12. I love Monti's writing.

    Regarding this topic, I think I am more shy as a writer than I am before a group. I enjoy signings and public speaking. But it makes me nervous to think of people reading my books, maybe because I am not there so it is a form of helplessness. I can't even apologize if they don't like it!

  13. Thank you, Mike!

    Folks love your writing, so you certainly don't need to be there to apologize! You are definitely outgoing...