If you're an Introvert or Highly-Sensitive author, launching your book can traumatize you naturally. This excessive stress can lead to a condition I've named PPTSD (Post-Publishing Traumatic Stress Disorder). The name sounds funny. But its effects are serious.
How can introverts and HSP authors publish our books successfully - and wholeheartedly - while honoring our need to recharge? How can we defuse our natural tendency to absorb a room's energy during on an event-packed book launch or tour?
1) Eat the elephant in small bites to ward off the tiger
"The tiger" is a common metaphor for acute stress disorders and trauma. The metaphor refers to the fight-or-flight scenario of a cave dweller confronting a saber tooth tiger.
A book launch isn't a tiger attack. Our higher brain knows this, intellectually. But our lower brain doesn't differentiate between book-stress and tiger-stress. It leaps into survival mode when it feels threatened. And it can get stuck there. Trust me. It's not fun.
One way to slow the brain's rush to tiger-town?
Divide your Big Book Launch into bite-sized tasks. And then:
Celebrate each completed task.
The brain's repeated experience of small victories can create neural pathways that link your book launch process with feelings of achievement.
These positive links can boost your immunity to large stresses - and even minor annoyances, like my mixed metaphor about the tiger and the elephant.
2. Write "set breaks" into your work day
Have you noticed how bands hire opening acts or take set breaks during a show?
It's an idea worth copying. Build, then satisfy your fans' desire for your creative product by offering them your presence in packets. Enlist a musical or literary opening act. Create set breaks (official or ad-hoc) during a live event to conserve and recharge your physical energy.
The set-break concept is also useful on everyday workdays.
As Christine Gust, a former Halliburton HR manager who teaches practical applications of stress management tools in Colorado likes to say, "It's amazing how much you can achieve by going for a walk."
3. Schedule A Daily Author's Retreat
"You need to retreat every day," says Maureen Clancy, a New Jersey-based holistic psychotherapist and Highly-Sensitive Person, about the need for quiet amid a busy book tour or launch.
"Build it into your schedule, like you're going to the dentist. Although, hopefully being with yourself will be more pleasant than going to the dentist."
4. Bring a familiar scent to parties and events.
This is another tip of Clancy's, which I now practice. She finds lavender to be a very relaxing scent, but let your nose be your guide.
You can wear your scent on your skin or on a piece of fabric.
"What happens is you inhale it and it goes to the part of the parasympathetic nervous system that helps you relax," Clancy says.
This is particularly helpful if you'll be speaking - or singing - at an event.
As singer-songwriter Vance Gilbert tells his students: our body uses our heartbeat as its metronome.
It may help to think of your heartbeat as your body-clock's second hand.
A racing heart makes us speak and sing faster. Our tongue is timed to our speeding heartbeat.
A calmer heartbeat prompts us to communicate more calmly, creating a truly human connection between author and audience.
And isn't that what this whole book-writing thing is about?
5) How does an HSP/Introvert yell for help?
If this were a joke, the punch line would be, "Please don't yell. Yelling traumatizes me."
But it's a serious question.
Introverts and HSPs need to tell ourselves and others when we're being stress to unhealthy extremes. Especially since we can be overwhelmed by experiences others find "fun" or "exciting."
To this end, I've been thinking about the idea of "author advocates" - friends, colleagues, or publishing team members who'd be willing to help Introvert and HSP authors launch and promote their books in mutually-beneficial ways.
Right now, my Introvert Author Advocate is my ...self.
I ask "her" (aka: me), "What would you suggest that I do, as someone who knows me, my book, and the publishing biz?"
And so far, she's come up with some good ideas.
Do you have other suggestions for publishing, promoting or touring a book as an Introvert/HSP author? Do Introvert/HSP tips work for extrovert authors as well?
Please share your thoughts in comments below:
Meet the introvert heroine of my traveling novel-with-songs, BLAME IT ON HOBOKEN in this short video.