Powerful Introvert Marketing: Collaboration

I don’t know about all other introverts, but I hate being the center of attention. My wedding was torture! I seriously wanted to stop the service and ask everyone to just talk to each other and stop looking at me. So you can imagine how difficult promoting myself is. The idea of contacting people I don’t know but would like to (double whammy unnerving) and then telling them about my writing (triple whammy) then asking them to read it and review or promote it in some way (we’re up to quad whammy now) is crazy hard for me. I’ve done it, but I’m sure I came off as the awkward, quivering fool that I felt like.

I’ve tried all sorts of ways to market my books with some success, but I know I could do better. Ironically, I’ve discovered a way to reach people, the movers and shakers I want to know, and do it in a way that I am completely comfortable with; I can do it with ease when I promote other people.

Twice recently opportunities have fallen into my lap where I wanted to tell the world about someone else’s work and how it influenced me in a positive way.

The first was a very cool lady who calls herself The Suburban Monk. She created the adorable smiling, thumbs-up Buddha statue shown above. I ordered two recently and she accidentally double sent my order (because she is a business owner who truly cares about her customers!) When she realized her mistake she told me to keep and share the extra two. My mind immediately went to doing a giveaway through my blog because I wanted to share my windfall and let others know about my little Syd (that’s his name) statue and how much it makes me smile. So, if you would like to win a perriwinkle or purple Syd, please follow this link to my Facebook page and enter to win him! Tell your friends and family to sign up too. I gotta tell you it’s hard not to smile every time you look at him. He comes in a bunch of cool colors so if you want gold or orange or another color check out her site.

The second opportunity came when an author I love and follow all over social media grabbed on to last week’s post on strong, silent women and added to it. I mentioned Lavinia Collins in my post so she read it (but that’s not why I mentioned her). As a history scholar she then wrote a post on her blog that added to mine. Here’s a link. If you are a history buff or feminist it is a must read. I can’t tell you how amazing it felt to connect with another author and work off each other. For introverts, collaboration feels fantastic. The chance to shine along with another person feels so much better than being alone in a spotlight. My mind is still awash with places I want to share our combined article. I’m stoked to promote it in a way I would never be if it was me alone.

Since we are talking about marketing here, lets look at the nitty gritty–will I sell any books because of these two events? Truth–I have no idea and that really isn’t my point. Then how can it be marketing, you say. It is marketing because it’s a chance for me to meet new people and connect with them. I truly believe that people buy from people they know and like. So maybe some of the people I meet through these others will decide to look up my books. I’m listed everywhere as Karen Gordon, Author and hopefully it’s easy to find my books. If not, they may remember me when they are looking for a book in the future or want to recommend one to a friend. It’s not direct marketing, it’s not aggressive, it’s probably the very slow way around, but it works for me. I’m having a fantastic time. I’m juiced up about promoting others and my excitement is genuine. People can feel when you are promoting out of obligation and need, just slogging through it, or doing it with true fun and passion.

What marketing technique is working best for you? Do any feel better to do? Share your experience in the comments.

Be sure to stop by my Facebook page to win your own smiling, happy Syd to put on your desk or nightstand. Mine is cheering me on right now as I pass along the love.

The Quiet Ones

I’ve always admired quiet strength–people who wield power in a way that is so subtle the source can go undetected or overlooked. It helps if these power players can hide behind a blustery front man, someone who draws all the attention, usually because they believe they’re in charge (must be yelled, while pounding on a table).

For me it all started with the nuns. In the early 1970’s I went to an all-girl, Catholic school that was run entirely by an order of nuns. Women’s lib was all over the news at the time–images of women protesting, burning their bras, joining the work force (and showing up in pants suits! gasp) The nuns didn’t protest loudly, some opted out of wearing habits, but they did so with little fanfare. On the surface they seemed almost cloistered from the changing times, but I can tell you they were revolutionaries, making huge strides for the cause of equality for women. They had a school full of females, potential future leaders in their eyes and they led by example. They ran the place, with no priest or male influence in sight. Our principal, Sr. Steppe, was a pillar of a woman who could intimidate at the Leona Helmsley level but also possessed a wicked sense of humor and a truly kind heart, which she shared with me more than once when I was (insert terror soundtrack) sent to the principal’s office for failing grades.

In general, worldwide, nuns have kept a low profile. So low that the ruling Church patriarchy ignored them, figuring them meek and weak. Ha!

For decades they used the fact that they were on the front lines for the Church, much more involved with the communities they lived and worked in than the priests, to build up the parishioners and students. They not only promoted equality to the millions of Catholic girls they taught, they also promoted acceptance for gays. In 2012 the Vatican finally paid them some attention–the angry kind, accusing them of radical feminism and undermining the Church’s teaching on the priesthood and homosexuality (AP, May 6, 2014). I’m proud to say that these women who gave me my first taste of the power of quiet strength haven’t backed down. (You go girls!!!)

Fast forward to 2014. I read a fantastic series about the King Arthur legend as told from the perspective of Guinevere. Not only did the author, Lavinia Collins, create a wonderfully-complex queen in Guinevere, she introduced me to Nimue. I love Nimue, the quiet, sweet young woman who tricks the master magician, Merlin and plays puppet master to knights and a king. Her quiet power reminded me of the nuns, of women who are overlooked and written off as having no chance of being a threat. Women who are smart enough use this to their advantage.

I’ve distilled this energy and poured the nuns and Guinevere and Nimue into the heroine of my work-in-progress, Vivienne. I’m currently writing the second book in the series where she meets her first blustery men in charge and figures out how to gain power then wield it. She’s still young at this point and like a sorcerer’s apprentice she is discovering her powers; powers she will hone and refine to create the life she wants.

Do you know of a Quiet One, someone who wields stealth power? Comment below and share their (or your) story. If you would like to support Catholic nuns in their stand against the Vatican, you can find information on The Nun Justice Project here. If you do follow up on their story, get ready to be wowed by some very wise, very strong little old ladies.

How Do You Know When You’ve Won?

Favorite book title, ever: “She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana” by Haven Kimmel. I fell in love with it because it celebrates, in a huge way, what might look like a simple, everyday act. And it reminds me that we, not society, get to decide when we’ve had a big win (and then celebrate, of course).

It’s been on my mind lately for two reasons. One is Vivienne, the main character in the series I’m working on. In the story she flies to the top of the private jet industry (punny, I know). But in creating the story I had to think about where the top would be for this character and how will the audience and the character know when she has reached the pinnacle. Does she have to own her own company to be at the top? What if she owned the smallest company in her industry? Would she still be “at the top”? Society seems to have some definite ideas about success until you try to define them. If she did become CEO but only lasted a year would she still be a success?

I don’t want to give the plot away, but I will say that writing this series has caused me to take a long, hard look at goals and success. Part of her definition of success will be based on where she began. In Vivienne’s case, in book one she is a secretary with a high-school diploma. She comes from a blue-collar area where a good, solid job in a large company is seen as a fantastic goal. These facts will not only shape her goals but how she feels when much bigger opportunities come her way. In the end, her start in life will also cause her to question whether she really has won the grand prize of life when she is livin’ large.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about my own goals and accomplishments. As the CEO (and lone employee) of Karen Gordon, Author, I like to set time aside a few times a year to look at my goals and what I’ve accomplished. In a recent post, Gretchen Rubin noted that September is the new January, in other words, this is a great time for setting goals. I agree. When my kids go back to school I start a new season and I’ve been floundering lately, in need of a little structure and direction. I decided to use Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map book as my guide. If you don’t know her work, Danielle LaPorte is a savvy businesswoman who’s style vacillates from spiritual guru to potty-mouth BFF. I love her.

Most people would have very clear-cut ideas about what success would/should look like for an author–sell a certain (large) number of books, make the NY Times or USA Today best seller list, have a movie made from your book. And my first instinct is to automatically put any or all of these down as my goals. But are they my goals? Each would require that I focus my energy in a different direction, they aren’t the package deal that most people think they are. And I’m not sure any of them would really make me happy, make me feel like I’ve won the self-publishing game.

Through The Desire Map book I’ve been determining and focusing in on goals that will not only make me happy when I accomplish them, but that I enjoy the process of reaching them. Personal goals, things that might not look like crossing the finish line to others, but will make me immensely happy. As I noted in my post about working from home it pushes you to set goals so you can have structure to your days and so you will know when it’s time to celebrate your accomplishment, which on some days might be nothing more than getting up off the couch.

Do you work from home and set your own goals? How do you know where to set the bar or mark the finish line? Do you have a favorite book on the topic you can recommend? Comment below and let me know.

Gifted and Geeky

In our local school system all kids are tested for the “gifted” program between first and second grade. It’s an IQ test combined with a few others that test thinking style then a one-on-one interview.

Both of my sons were placed in the gifted program based on these tests but believe me I am not bragging when I say that. Read on.

We have a standing joke in our house. The school calls. They say, “Mrs. Gordon?” I debate whether to pretend they have a wrong number. I eventually cop to being Mrs. Gordon. Their next question is always, “How are you today?” These are never just friendly calls so I always reply, “I don’t know, you tell me.” Then I get to find out what one of my gifted sons has done now.

Another word for gifted could be divergent, or odd-man-out, or 5%. The gifted program could also be called round pegs in square holes. It’s for the kids who think fast (and that’s usually good) and who process information differently than most of the general population. Which is often not a good thing at school, a system designed to accommodate the majority.

The biggest misconception about gifted kids (adults too) is that life will be easy for them. They will cruise through school, wowing their teachers, then maybe finish college early to begin a prestigious career a la Doogie Howser.

Some do have an easy time in school. They often don’t have to study much so they take the tests, get the grades and leave with little gained but a sterling GPA. But many don’t have such an easy time. Imagine as an adult repeating 5th grade. You would grasp the concepts quickly (because you probably forgot most of them) then you would be ready to move on, quickly. But the lessons on each idea would be scheduled to last for the next few weeks. Those would be l-o-n-g weeks for you. That is what school feels like for a lot of gifted kids.

I had to stop by school once to drop off something for my kid when he was in 3rd grade. I watched him through the door for a minute before knocking. His head was thrown back and he had a marker in his teeth. He was using it to mentally count ceiling tiles during math class. The good news about this class was that this teacher let him do that. She knew he would ace the test and as long as he was quiet he needed to distract himself and not the other kids. School is more of a compromise than a challenge for the gifted.

So why send them, you might ask. Social skills would be the number one reason. I could home school (shudders) and some families of gifted kids do. We don’t because I believe the social skills they have to learn at school are vital in life, maybe more vital than theorems and grammatical rules. When you think differently than 90 – 95% of other people it can be hard to relate to others. Yes, these are the Dungeons and Dragons kids, who can wrap their brains around complex games with a litany of rules. The problem is they often can’t understand why the other kids can’t do the same. That social deficit is hard when you are in school and can mean being unemployed after you graduate. Lessons like “it’s not nice to correct your teacher’s (boss’s) grammar (math, etc.)” are the ones that keep gifted kids from living in their parent’s basements when they’re 30.

I’ve hesitated writing this blog post. The misconceptions about being gifted make articles about it seem like whining about being rich. But I’m not whining. There are so many great benefits to being part of this family. I have the most fascinating conversations with my kids. We discuss world religious philosophies, politics, the structure of literature. But we also discuss sportsmanship (as applied to math contests) and how counter revolutionary ideals should not be applied to defeating the school dress code. Because when that happens, I get a call … Mrs. Gordon …