• Ilie Ruby
  • Countdown to Publication - Are you the right type? 9 days (or 20 days)
Countdown to Publication - Are you the right type? 9 days (or 20 days)
Written by
Ilie Ruby
August 2012
Written by
Ilie Ruby
August 2012

Greetings from the girl who officially has had one two three pub dates. 

This week, there has been a resurgence of articles about authors lauding their friends and reviewers not being critical enough because of connections via social media. Of course, writers everywhere struggled with this after reading — we all have war stories that speak of the contrary. Many saw the tweet from an author who promised she would write a scathing review of another's book. There's not a person I know that can't point to their scraped knees and bruised egos, disillusionments and perceived betrayals. But as my friend J. said today, and I agreed, there are just as many stories of amazing and wonderful things happening because of our connections to each other. Community is a good thing. Support is invaluable. Things seem to balance out eventually.

Everything has its season. 

While no one knows where this new direction in publishing will lead us, here is what we do know after a few years of analyzing and dissecting: 1. You're required to do a job that you haven't been trained for—promotion. 2. It requires a completely different skill set than writing a book. 3. If you master the skill set or are born with it, you are rewarded in many ways. 4. Though you have to do it, it may not come easy. 5. If you're not careful, it can make you feel like you'll never succeed in this environment. 

Why? Part of the answer might lie in the secret sauce. What is in the secret sauce? Just ask an ENFJ. 

I'm talking about the Myers—Briggs Scores as they relate to writers in social media. 

I recently took the test (I'm on the E-I border, and am not the lauded ENFJ) and did some quick research. Here's what I found: ENFJ's are good at everything: FB, Twitter, etc. ESFPs are better at Facebook than Twitter. And then, there is my beloved LinkedIn (everyone knows why they're there — I like the straightforward approach to engagement). It's affirming to be able to quantify this on some level. If spinning PR pirouettes across the online tightrope doesn't come naturally and even makes you cringe at times, it shouldn't make you suspect or mean you're inept. You just might be better suited for another forum. 

Does the current environment reward writers with a specific personality type? Is this a passing trend? Will there be a revolt and will the ISTJs inherit the earth? Will there come a day when you can once more sink into the quiet of your work, delighting in the muse and in the process of creation and still hope to be read? 

We all know that the support of community and connection feels good, pure and simple. Reaching out to readers and enjoying feedback is inarguably helpful. But I wonder — five years ago, no one would have believed that authors would be working to create tweets of 140 words or less. What might a decade hold? Two decades? One day, scientists predict, telepathic communication will be our main gateway. Then the quiet ones, the ISTJs will be in demand because they appear to be masters of the pure pursuit of craft. They do their work under the radar, allow others to concentrate, and perhaps they've developed super focusing powers in the absence of noise. 

The trick, I think, is to figure out where your personality strengths are and then use those in aptly matched forums. If you're not an "E", but can hire an "E" to supplement your efforts, do so. That way, you get to do what you really love, what you're good at, and perfect your own secret sauce. 



Ilie Ruby is the author of The Salt God's Daughter and The Language of Trees, as well as two children's books. She has written for the New York Times and CNN, and lives in Boston. 

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  • Annette Hanham

    Coming from an entirely different perspective... I would like to share that when I was nearing the end of writing my book 'Dry Your Tears' (which is currently in the hands of the designer), I had a major 'writer's block' which I couldn't seem to push past. I finally had a session with a woman who channels an Ascended Master (from the realms of Spirit) and learnt how in a previous life-time ( actually in several) I had lost my life because of the controversial material I had written and sometimes published from my own printing press! I mention this becasue I believe many of us have unconscious, deep-seated fears about speaking out, owing to many life-times of persecution. To write is one thing, to stand in your power and speak out through publishing is quite another! No wonder we get the wobbles when it comes to self-promotion but at  least we don't have to worry about losing our head these days!

  • Brie Gyncild

    As an ENFJ, I found this post very encouraging. :) But I also want to let introverts know that not all extroverts have it easy. I'm off-the-charts E, but I loathe self-promotion and I, too, am anxious whenever I post a comment on a blog or website. As an extrovert, I do feel the need to share my every thought, but I thrive on hearing more from *other people* and am stymied when in a position that requires me to impress someone with what I've accomplished or what I'm capable of. I prefer to let my work, whether paid or volunteer, speak for itself. So I'm not looking forward to promoting books. (Thus far, I've mostly written work-for-hire projects, so I'm not on the hook to promote them. I prefer that.) And I greatly admire those who can both write great things and also manage to get the word out about them.

  • Donna Ashby Moore

    I'm not a marketing major.  I simply write.  I love to write.  But now, it appears, we who are technology-challenged, must learn social media in order to sell our work, not only learn, we must exceed in navigating and promotion. It isn't fair.  One's work ought to earn the contract, not how many FB fans or T followers a writer collects.


  • Margaret Brown

    Ilie, you have presented some very good information. I am new to She Writes and want to let the community know that I am eager to receive queries from She Writes members regarding potential editorial coverage in Shelf Unbound book review magazine. Introverts welcome!

  • Ilie,

    my original comment was actually addressed to anyone here who hates and dreads the marketing side of pushing our books, because, let's face it, most writers (myself included...or at least in the beginning...over the years I've slowly become less afraid of mingling with the masses and promoting...advanced age, I imagine...you stop being afraid of a lot of things as you get older - believe me) are introverts. Then I made a direct reply to Deb and Carol at the end of it. Ilie, I, too, used to be sooo afraid of public speaking/promoting/blowing my own horn, so to speak, for my writing...but as 40 years clicked by and my books continued to be born (with many birthing pains, rejections, triumphs and experiences) I have grown bolder. I have gone through so much as a writer. I feel, finally, I have the right to call myself a writer and to brag. And the social media of today is perfect for that. Ha, only took me 4 decades. I'm fairly new to this forum, but am really enjoying it. Thank you for your series of posts! Kathryn Meyer Griffith  www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith  www.authorsden.com/kathrynmeyergriffith  [email protected]

  • Kim Fay

    As a writer who also officially had 3 pub dates, I sympathize with you! I just want to say that I really enjoy reading your insights into the various aspects of publishing. This is such a fascinating subject to explore -- as writers, we love being alone with our imaginations. But I have to say, I actually enjoy the social aspect. I've met so many terrific writers and readers through blogs, Twitter and Facebook. It can get tiring at times, trying to keep up with everything, but for me the pleasures outweigh the occasional frustrations. I enjoy online conversations such as this one and they help me feel less alone with my uncertainties. Rather than think about social networking as the constant, shameless promotion of my book, I try to approach it with the thought of creating a web of friends and support around the world. And I hope that in the end I can offer as much support and friendship to other writers as I receive from them.

  • Claude Nougat

    Fascinating question and love the comments too! I note most comments are from self-declared introverts (of which I'm one too!). Could it be that writing fiction is essentially an introvert's favorite activity? Because book promotion online and in the physical world is surely not a writer's favorite activity!!

  • Ilie Ruby

    Sandra, that is a brilliant idea! Myers-Briggs match.com. So interesting that you brought that up because I was just talking to a blogger friend who I actually met on Twitter of all places, because I tweet at night (when no one is there and it's so nice and quiet LOL). Anyway, we met a couple of years ago -- we're going to do some work together. Timely.

  • Ilie Ruby

    Kathryn,who was this addressed to?

  • Carole Avila

    Kathryn Meyer Griffith,

    You're the third published author I've read within the week who recommended going the Amazon self-publishing route because e-books have proven more successful than not with the right promotion and marketing. I'm a marketing major, a degree I've chosen to pursue to help in my writing career. If the publisher looking at my work right now doesn't bite, Amazon is my next stop. Thank you, and to Ilie Ruby and all who replied to her post, sharing valuable insight and information.

  • Sandra Suminski

    VERY interesting post. I'm an INFP and am only recently crawling out from under my rock. It's ok for the moment but deep down I wonder if I can sustain it, and I know to be successful in the current environment one has to. I'm very intrigued by the notion of complementary qualities. Wouldn't it be great if everyone wore a badge and you could go shopping for your deficit quality? Of course I'm mostly kidding, and those complementary partnerships most often emerge organically, but isn't a Myers-Briggs match.com kind of scenario intriguing to think about?

  • Ilie Ruby

    I love her, and her work is absolutely validating, you're right.


  • Faith Freewoman

    Have any of you read "Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking"?

    It not only makes you feel MUCH better about - even empowered by - your introverted nature, it also helps you understand how our culture mandates extroverted behavior and how we introverts can thrive in that context and still honor our true selves.

    Major, major help!

    Cheers, Faith

  • Ilie Ruby

    Margaret, it is so complicated, isn't it? I actually hemmed and hawed about writing this post. I worried that it wasn't cheerful enough (!). While my desire is for this work to be purely about the writing, about literature, about language, and about meaningful exchanges, I wrestle, too. There's a passion and desire for authenticity that creates a bit of self-consciousness, I think, especially if platform feels forced. I don't see social media prowess as an indicator or a measure of interpersonal effectiveness. So many people can't get their minds around online engagement but are great at cocktail parties, speaking to hundreds, taking leadership roles in their communities and businesses, and who are the best people to talk to (my husband being one of them). This is not to take anything away from the social media dynamos, though. I wonder what others think about this. Thanks, everyone, for all for your comments and for being so brave. 

  • Margaret Wacker

    I am totally an INTJ.  I have forced myself over the years to train myself to appear to be  more of an E, just because I have had to.  I think that extroverts are definitely rewarded here as elsewhere.  I certainly don't look forward to promoting my book when it is done, but I know that I can do it.

  • Ilie,

    I've been building a brand for five years now; learning the Internet ropes from scratch...since I published by first ebook EGYPTIAN HEART in 2007...and I've slowly learned about Facebook, My Space, Authorsden, author and writer loops, book review sites, guest blogging my backstory essays, answering emails, etc. EH wasn't my first book, though. I've had 15 published since 1984, been writing for 40 years, and most of my books were with traditional paperback companies like Zebra and Leisure until 2007. Once, in the beginning, I was considered a horror author, (my books sat on book store shelves next to Stephen King and Anne Rice) but I've published many other genres since 1984. I've seen the whole revolution since computers arrived. What a journey. As of June now ALL my old/new book are in ebooks and paperback PODs. Now, book #16...I'm going to do something I never ever thought I'd do...self-publish through Amazon Kindle. Do it ALL myself. Why not? I'm doing most of it now. I've learned a lot these last five years but still feel overwhelmed at times with all the promotion and how much time it takes away from my life and my actual writing. I, too, Carol, am in my 60's. Somedays I just feel like giving up. It's so much work. Then, again, it's become a way of life. Hey Deb, I don't Tweet, either, and probably never will. My goodness, if I Tweeted, too, I'd never write another book. There's only so much time in a day, ha, ha. I do wonder, at times, also, what the next 5-10 years will bring. It's been a whirlwind so far. The future makes me shudder.  Author Kathryn Meyer Griffith  [email protected]

  • Deb

    I'm sunk if as a writer I have to toot my own horn. I'm with Wendy; everything she said in her comment I could've written.

    I'm not a pubic speaker. I don't speak in public because I'm no good at it and have no desire anyway. I'm a writer. It's been my passion since I was 7. Now, I realize that the whole public relations thing isn't going to change just because I don't want to be involved. My heart sinks when I think of how much work I will have to force myself into doing once my novel is completed. I don't even know how to Tweet. There, I said it!

  • Joanne S Frye
    • Thanks so much for highlighting what many of us experience--moving from the deep introspection of writing into the public world of marketing.  And yes, for those of us who are introverts, this is painful and disjunctive.  I seem to swing wildly from "pushing my book"--the product of many years of solitary exploration--to needing desperately to retreat into the solitude, thinking my own thoughts.  After the publication of Biting the Moon: A Memoir of Feminism and Motherhood this spring, I initiated my website (http://joannefrye.com) and included a section called Reflections.  There I posted a brief discussion of this transition from private to public.  Now, a few months later, I'm having trouble even writing another Reflection for the website. And posting this response now further aggravates the anxiety, probably worse for a woman in her sixties not invested in social media.  Thanks again for speaking to this concern--and thanks to Wendy for speaking of that haunting guilt after a splurge of self-promotion.
  • Katharine L. Wiegele

    Anyone have any thoughts about INFPs?  I can't say I speak for all of them, but for me certainly, Twitter seems to invasive and disruptive of my flow. Additionally, I've never been good at nor enjoyed self-promotion. I find it embarrassing, kind of like Wendy the INTJ.

  • Ilie Ruby

    Wendy, thank you so much for this comment. You speak for a lot of people. I will read whatever you post—sometimes it just takes a little feedback to help us get going. Make sure you let people know what you need — we'll rise to support you.  

  • Wendy Roberts

    I'm dreading having to market a book.  I'm an INTJ and I'm struggling just to write this response.  Seriously, I start typing, then I delete everything because every time I post something in a public forum I get a minor anxiety attack.  I suck at all things social media, and whenever I "toot my horn" for the sake of "building a platform" or whatever, I spend the rest of the day wracked with guilt over what an attention-hog I am.  I mean, I don't spend hours responding to all my friends' facebook status updates so who am I to expect others to bother to read mine?  Why does it have to be about who you know, not just what you write?

  • Carol Hedges

    Ah, good old Myers- Briggs! I enjoyed reading this! I have just produced my first ebook- Jigsaw Pieces on Amazon as an Indie, after being cast adrift by my publisher when the recession hit, and 'mid-listers' were not wanted any more. Yes - we have to do publicity, no getting round it, and if you don't have an actual book, social media is the only way to go. Over the past 4 months, I have had to: start a blog (http://carolhedges.blogspot.com) on which I am creating a brand (mad writer probably sums it up best) enlarge my FB friends from 50 to 200, and, since 2 weeks ago, start Tweeting (@carolJhedges). A steep learning curve for a 62 year old!!! But - if we are writers, then we are communicators, and these media are just other ways of communicating. I spend about 2 hours a day networking - interestingly, I recently read an article by a published writer who said her publisher expected her to do the same, despite a publicity department. The secret to all this for introverts: Offer encouragement/your blog site/ praise to others. Preferably with sincerity. You help first, others will rally round and help you. And SAY you're scared and lost. So many writers have come alongside me and given advice, Retweets, etc. I am still at sea on the great digital ocean, but I've got a few good 'lifebelts' to support me - several from this site. And I'm happy to help anyone who wants to be my guest on my blog, or wants a promo on my FB site. As Ilie says, we are a community. 

  • Faith Freewoman

    Actually, I think it's the INFJ's who will revolt. And might end up ruling the world <g>


  • Interesting post. Thanks for sharing.