I recently wrote a post about Author Branding, and Why No Fucks Were Given. The gist of it was that I am who I am, and I’m not going to change that to put on my “Author Image.” I know who I am, for better or worse, and have no illusions about that. I’m a dork, and don’t tend to fit in. I’m very opinionated, and I can be a jerk when I’m stubbornly arguing my point of view. I’m very creative, and very supportive of other people’s creative endeavors. I’m generous when I can afford to be (such as giving my time to help friends with their writing), but I put myself first when my time is short (such as when I’m on a deadline). I’m a hypocrite in many ways, but I know my opinions and views very deeply and back them up with statistics and facts.
Today I’m going to talk about the opposite side. You see, my “brand” or “image” is often not a very well-liked one. I’m very shy, and I tend to hide in the corner at social events, never speak up unless spoken to first, and I almost never make friends.
People who follow me on Twitter might read this and say, “What? You’re the most outgoing (or loudmouthed/obnoxious) guy on Twitter!” Well, that’s online. It’s easier for me to open up online. After all, the worst that can happen is someone decides to block me.
Does this make me a hypocrite about my “I am who I am” attitude? No. It’s a bit more complex than that.
In public, I still am who I am. I wear my dorky clothes without caring if people think they’re stupid. I sit with a book when other people are playing sports. When someone talks to me, I’ll be myself: cursing casually, rambling about my nerdish interests, talking about Dungeons and Dragons and video games, and so on.
But I’m shy. I sit in the corner, and wait for someone else to come to me before I’ll share this side with them. When you come and talk to me, you’ll quickly learn that I’m a geek, an author, a gamer, and so on. But odds are, if we’re in the same public place together, I’ll never come to talk to you first.
This isn’t very good when it comes to networking, marketing, and that sort of thing. I’ll never walk up to a stranger and start a conversation. I have trouble with the idea of pitching my book (such as my ebook short story, “Radiance”) to someone. Obviously, if I want to succeed, I’m going to have to fix this. I can’t just expect to sit back and have people come up to me and ask if I have a book to sell them.
What can I do about this? Well, I’m not sure. See, I have severe social anxiety. I can’t talk to girls, because I’m afraid they’ll think I’m creepy and have no interest in me. I can’t develop friendships, because even when I get to know someone, I’m too scared to actually ask them to go out and socialize with me. I have a hard time talking to anyone unless I’ve grown comfortable around them. I worry that my dorky/sarcastic/gamer/jerk side will turn them away from me (even though I refuse to change to gain their acceptance).
But what I need to do, as a professional, is learn how to overcome this in professional situations. I may not be able to make friends easily, but I need to learn how to pitch a sale. I know how to “behave” in professional situations (ie, I don’t act like a sarcastic dorky jerk around a potential client or at a job interview). I feel confident in making my “sales pitch” once the circumstances arise. But I don’t know how to initiate contact. I don’t know how to walk up to someone and get them interested in my work without being a spammer and saying “Do you want to buy my book?”
So I suppose I need to reconcile my shyness/introvert tendencies somehow, while still believing that people need to accept me for who I am (even when who I am is sometimes a bad person). I’ll wear my Geek Badge with pride, but I have to learn how to stop wearing it while hiding in the corner…