5 Memoir Marketing Tips for the Highly Sensitive Person

by Pamela Jane on September 17, 2013

Book Business PaperclipPost #102 – Women’s Memoirs, Book Business – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

Are You a Highly Sensitive Person?

By Pamela Jane Bell
Regular guest blogger, children’s book author and coach. Pamela is currently finishing her memoir. Pamela’s first book for adults, Pride and Prejudice and Kitties: A Cat-Lover’s Romp through Jane Austen’s Classic is now available.

[Note from Women's Memoirs: Kendra's had cats for as long as I can remember. Now that we frequently Skype, I even get to see her one remaining cat -- Sabrina. Sweet Sabrina long ago used up the last of her supposed nine lives. We're convinced she has been given an allotment of 18 or so.

Well, as you can imagine, we just had to check out Pamela's new book and we're sure you'll like it as much as we did. To give you a preview, we've put her book trailer at the bottom of her list of 5 Memoir Marketing Tips.]

My friend Debbie teases me about the stacks of self-help books I’ve collected over the years.  I admit that many of them have proved to be less than helpful, but for me finding one new book to add to my self-help library – one that changes the way I think and see the world – is worth the search.

One of those finds is The Highly Sensitive Person by psychologist Elaine N. Aron.  Dr. Aron defines a highly sensitive person (HSP) as someone who is more aware than others of subtleties in her environment, and also more easily overwhelmed by stimuli.  If you are unusually sensitive to loud noise and bright lights, for instance, or even to comments overheard while touring a museum, you may be highly sensitive. (My husband turns on the dining room light so bright it looks like he’s preparing to operate rather than sit down to dinner.  I don’t like light bulbs brighter than 25 watts; candles are even better.)  A complex inner life is another HSP characteristic.  I’m sure many writers, especially memoirists, have that one!

Being highly sensitive doesn’t necessarily mean you are more understanding or empathic ­than others – it simply relates to how you process stimuli.  In fact when you are feeling overwhelmed, you are probably anything but kind and understanding.  To find out where you fall on the highly-sensitive continuum, you can take Dr. Aron’s self-test here.

I just want to type! (Jean Harlow)

I just want to type! (Jean Harlow)

So how does marketing work for an HSP?  When a friend of mine got a new computer a while back, he protested that he didn’t need the Excel spreadsheet software or the Skype app; he “just wanted to type.”  I know exactly how he feels.  It reminds me of a call I got from a cable TV company recently.

“How would you like 150 more cable channels?” the sales rep asked brightly.

“Actually,” I replied,  “I’m looking for fewer channels.”

There was total silence on the other end of the line.

5 Book Marketing Tips for Writers

It may be hard for non-HSPs to realize that some people really do want less.  For me, marketing my book falls under the “I can completely do without this” category, but it is part of today’s writing and publishing world.  So here are five marketing tips especially for HSPs:

1.  Don’t try to out-market your non-HSP colleague

There will always be better networkers, smarter marketers, or those naturally gifted at promotion.  Their ideas can inspire you (or drive you crazy).  Hopefully, it’s the former, but either way don’t set yourself up for frustration and disappointment by implementing an impossibly ambitious marketing campaign.  Instead …

2.  Decide what you will do

It’s helpful to decide ahead of time how much and what kind of marketing you want and would enjoy doing.   I love public speaking.  To me it feels cozy and intimate; it’s just the two of us – me and the audience.  If you don’t enjoy live interviews or public speaking, you can send out postcards, e-newsletters, or organize a blog tour, where various blogs feature your book on consecutive weeks.

3.  Give yourself some “inward” timeDeep-Woods-Stream_5699

Just because you’re in a marketing phase doesn’t mean you can’t take a little introverted vacation.  Stagger your “in” and “out” times so you don’t become disheartened or discouraged with the demands of marketing.  Children’s author Deborah Heiligman has a note on the wall of her office that says, “Long view, light touch.”   With marketing I tend to do just the opposite – hurl myself into a promotion campaign as if there’s no tomorrow, then crash.  Deb’s strategy is much more intelligent.

4.  Team up with your non-HSP friend or colleague

Being highly sensitive doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot  of original and creative marketing ideas.  In fact, as an HSP, you probably have more ideas than you have time or inclination for.  So let your more stimuli-loving friend chat up editors at a conference, while you do on-line market research.  The introverted-extroverted collaboration is an ideal partnership.*

5.  Slow down when you’re feeling pressured

When you start to feel pressured or flustered, resist the urge to speed up.  Not only will you maintain your balance (literally – I tripped and broke my foot last year hurrying to get some information while talking on the telephone) but when you slow down, you’ll actually accomplish more.

FlorenceUnderstanding the HSP trait has helped me tremendously.  For example, when my family and I moved to Florence, Italy, for a year, I spent the first scorching August days on my hands and knees, scrubbing the floor of our apartment.  If I hadn’t just read The Highly Sensitive Person, I might have concluded I was crazy and forced myself to hurry out and start soaking up the culture and beauty of Florence. But because of Elaine Aron’s book, I understood that I was exhausted and overwhelmed from the intense, protracted effort of preparing to leave home for a year.  The floor-scrubbing phase, though short-lived, was extremely therapeutic and even pleasurable.  Physical work, done in a quiet place, “knits up the raveled sleave of care,” as Shakespeare wrote about sleep.

One last point: I’ve found over the years that for your book to do well, a little luck or magic has to kick in –  something, in other words, that is completely out of your hands.  Accept this, take time to consider your marketing plan and, most importantly, enjoy the ride!

From Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown by Maud Hart Lovelace

From Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown by Maud Hart Lovelace. Illustration by Lois Lenski

Are you an HSP?  If so, what are your marketing strategies?  Please leave us a comment; we’d love to hear from you. Non-HSPs are welcome too!

*Though I’ve used the terms “HSP” and “introvert” interchangeably, in truth only about 70% of highly sensitive people are introverts; 30% are extroverts.

Below is the trailer for Pamela Jane’s new book: Pride and Prejudice and Kitties: A Cat-Lover’s Romp through Jane Austen’s Classic

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Grace Peterson September 17, 2013 at

Very interesting. I am definitely an introvert. I learned this from the Myers-Briggs Personality Profile. However, a highly-sensitive? The light bulb clicked when you mentioned your distaste for bright lights. I will take the survey and see where I fall on the spectrum. Thanks for sharing Pamela.

Kendra, as a cat-lover myself, I’m really enjoying Pamela’s book.

Pamela Jane September 24, 2013 at

Hi, Grace,

Thanks for your comment. I’d be interested to see if you are an HSP. I’ve also noticed I can’t stand tight or prickly clothing — probably the reason I didn’t like ballet recitals with all those itchy costumes!

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