Copyright © 2013 Laurie Schnebly Campbell
Originally published by 1st Turning Point
Probably most of us don’t promote every single day. (For those who do, my hat’s off to you!) When we start looking at what kind of promotion we want to pursue, though, it helps to know your personality type.
If you already do, you can scroll down past this introductory stuff. If you’re not yet familiar with enneagrams (pronounced ANY-uh-grams), here’s a quick look at the nine types.
Everybody is one of the nine, just like everybody is one of the twelve astrological signs, but we all have some of each enneagram type within us. In fact, we can spot types we know just from their names: the reformer, nurturer, achiever, romantic, observer, guardian, enthusiast, leader, and peacemaker.
So which are you? (And which are the characters or real-life people who interest you?) Well, let’s see:
The Nine Types
Type One, the Reformer, is a classic white-hat-never-black-hat who lives for Truth-Justice-Right. They hate mistakes; as perfectionists they get angry when they (or anyone else) don’t live up to their high standards. Trivia: They’re hardly ever overweight, because that would be wrong!
Two, the Nurturer, loves to be needed; they’re constantly giving. Great helpers who’ll go out of their way to care for others, and they take pride in being needed. If they go overboard, it’s a case of them forcing chicken soup down your throat because they identify themselves as Givers.
Three, the Achiever, is the golden boy or golden girl who succeeds at whatever they do and always looks fabulous. Even if they’re cleaning the garage, their hair is artfully messy! But they can get so wrapped up in the fabulous image, they might indulge in deception to keep it going.
Fours, the Romantics, are never afraid of their feelings; they love big emotions…drama, tragedy, falling in love. They have glorious visions for how life should be, “scripting” what they hope for. If everyday life seems too ordinary, they fall into envy—not of others, but of their perfect dream.
Five, the Observer, isn’t interested in emotions, except academically. They’re all about thoughts, analysis, study. They keep to themselves, preferring comprehension over participation, and while they don’t care much about material goods, they’re greedy for personal time-space-privacy.
Six, the Guardian, is constantly alert to risk (for themselves and their loved ones). Because of this fear, they’re very aware of the rules and determined to always keep them…or to always break them. Either way, they’re deeply loyal and determined to keep their team safe, no matter what.
Seven, the Adventurer, is enthusiastic about everything and everybody, and they want to enjoy every possible new experience…to the point where they might be accused of gluttony. They prefer not to commit to just one of anything—whether a favorite restaurant, a job, or even a mate.
Eight, the Leader, is very self-confident and accustomed to being in charge, running the show…always protecting that vulnerable core. Their lust for power can create trouble if someone else expects to share decision-making, but it also makes them exceptionally good at getting things done.
Nine, the Peacemaker, likes to avoid conflict, avoid taking sides…even choosing chocolate or vanilla. They’re likable because they can appreciate everyone’s viewpoint, and rarely express their own. Instead, they kick back with whatever’s comfortable…sometimes to the point of sloth.
See how each strength has a corresponding fatal flaw? That’s likely to come out under stress, which happens in every book. But, of course, in real life we all know how to overcome our own weak points!
Each type’s name gives a clue to their strength, and their fatal (or not-so-fatal) flaw is what happens when that strength is taken to extremes:
Reformer: Anger when they (or anything else) isn’t perfect
Nurturer: Pride in being needed by everyone around them
Achiever: Deception to keep up their outstanding façade
Romantic: Envy when life doesn’t match their glorious script
Observer: Avarice for more privacy and greater knowledge
Guardian: Fear of possible danger to their loved ones (or self)
Adventurer: Gluttony for every possible new experience
Leader: Lust for power, to be in control of their surroundings
Peacemaker: Sloth, keeping life comfortable and decision-free
If you noticed that those flaws contain the Seven Deadly Sins, good for you! (Although the math was off, which is why two of the flaws didn’t make that original list.)
Anyway, people of each type can put their strengths into play when it comes to promotion. But first, a reminder: any idea that makes you think “ulp” is probably not one you should be doing! So, no matter what type you are, think about what feels good…because you’re more likely to succeed there.
Types of Promo
The Reformers are going to do a perfect job of promotion, by golly, because if it’s not perfect then what’s the point? (You can already see how these authors might get in trouble, right?) But they can put their strength into play by focusing on the kind of promotion that requires doing the right thing at all times, like never forgetting to post on their chosen blogspots, and always proofreading their message before hitting Send.
The Nurturers want to make sure their readers (and editors and agents and reviewers) are well taken care of, no matter how much emotional energy that might require. They’re good at taking care of people, so their instincts (to send affectionate thanks, listen thoughtfully and offer supportive advice) can make them hugely popular…not only in private communications, but also in public venues like conferences and forums.
Achievers are the kind of person everyone admires and wants to be around because of this incredible “beauty, talent and success” vibe. It makes them a natural for personal appearances—booksignings, speeches, TV shows, you name it. They can convince any group, retailer or producer that no matter what an audience wants, the best person to provide it is this author…and leave the audience feeling privileged at having met somebody who’s gifted at (whatever the book covers).
Romantics are totally at home with every emotion in the world—the bigger, the better. So any venue where they can express their emotions freely and brilliantly (after all, they’re writers!) will be a comfortable fit…readers and publishers will feel like they really know this writer. And because Fours are good at “scripting” what they want their life to be like, they can use that talent to plan exactly how they’ll perform at their next booksigning, their next post, their next meeting, and so on.
The Observer treasures privacy. Fives are more comfortable staying detached from the milieu, and might feel overwhelmed by conferences or signings. But since Fives adore knowledge, they make fabulous teachers…whether at a live workshop where they can share their expertise, or in the seclusion of virtual contact where they don’t have to come face-to-face with any sticky emotions. And they can use their observational, analytical skills to determine what works best.
The Guardian is always aware of what might go wrong. So these authors are good at spotting potential hazards in any type of promotion, and figuring out ways to circumvent trouble before it arises. One of their greatest strengths is humor, which they use as a protective device—if people are laughing, everyone’s safe. Even when their books aren’t funny, Sixes have a gift for spotting the humor in everyday life…and they can use that to good effect in newsletters, blog posts and chats.
The Adventurer loves to try whatever’s new. When it comes to the latest promotional tools and techniques, they won’t hesitate to check out whatever comes along because they’re used to embracing change. This makes them wonderfully flexible and adaptable, although they sometimes change promos so quickly that no single effort has time to build effectiveness. But once they manage some consistent pattern, their enthusiastic energy charms everyone they meet.
The Leader is a master of organization. Eights are used to getting things done their way, and used to relying on themselves…they don’t trust easily, but they do appreciate skills as strong as their own. So if they hire an outside expert, they’re going to demand—and receive—the best possible service. If they handle promotion themselves, same thing. Eights are such great natural leaders, whether onstage or behind the scene, that they’re always able to count on cooperation.
The Peacemaker gets along with everyone…even if that means downplaying personal preferences in favor of everyone else’s. Nobody can ever argue with a Nine, because their strength is seeing all possible viewpoints and encouraging consensus. So whenever they join a group of bloggers, anthology writers, panelists, or fellow authors at a conference or signing, everyone will come away feeling good about them and genuinely happy to recommend their book.
Types & Subtypes
Now, every writer (and character, editor, reader, etc.) is most often one of the nine types, but we all have some of each inside us. What we also have inside us is one—or sometimes two, or sometimes all three—of what are called subtypes.
The Self-Preservation person is concerned with basic survival issues, whether the survival is of the body or the spirit. Where can they find their favorite kind of soda? How are they gonna pay their kid’s tuition? Is there anywhere they can get some privacy? If they were stranded on a desert island with plenty of survival gear, they’d just as soon be by themselves.
The Intimacy person is concerned with one-on-one relationships…not just a lover, but every individual friendship. They want to spend time alone with everyone they care about, just the two of them, talking as intimately as they can. If they were on that desert island, they’d want one other person with them—just one, who’d be just as involved with the relationship as they are.
The Social person is concerned with the community as a whole. They want their entire gang on that desert island, and they want to do their part. They’re less interested in what’s going on within themselves, or within a particular person, than what’s going on in the whole group—whether it’s their critique partners, their co-workers, their online buddies, whatever.
Just like with the enneagram's nine personality types, none of these is better or worse than the others. Everyone needs to be concerned with the “Me,” the “We Two,” and the “All of Us” to have a truly well-balanced life.
But we all tend to hang out more in one or two subtypes than strike a perfect balance among all three. So it makes sense for writers to choose promotions that match the areas where they feel more comfortable.
Subtypes’ Best Promo
People who feel most at home with self-preservation care about being safe and secure. Whether they achieve that by turning to experts or by relying solely on themselves, they’d just as soon keep promotional efforts focused in areas where they can feel secure. Whatever a writer’s personality, the self-preservation subtype will magnify it.
For intimacy-subtype people, the most natural promotion is whatever builds a sense of intimacy. Writing personalized notes. Sending emails offlist. Asking the reporter or publicist or bookseller to a private lunch. Whoever these writers deal with will enjoy knowing they have a one-on-one relationship, and appreciate that sense of exclusivity.
Since the social subtype is all about groups, these people feel very much at ease when surrounded by readers at a booksigning or writers at a conference. They’ll build relationships in online communities and social networks, making everyone around them feel like part of their team—and making word-of-mouth promotion a virtual guarantee.
In addition to those three subtypes, the nine enneagram types also tend to fall into three other areas: Nurturer Twos, Achiever Threes, and Romantic Fours are known as coming from the heart; Observer Fives, Guardian Sixes, and Adventurer Sevens from the head; Leader Eights, Peacemaker Nines and Reformer Ones from the gut.
Which ties in perfectly with the traditional mind-body-heart types. Again, we usually have some of each in us, but they don’t tend to be equally weighted.
A Mind person is very logical, rational, analytical. They live in the future, analyzing possibilities, rather than in the present (experiencing whatever’s going on around them) or in the past (remembering wonderful and awful moments).
Body people live in the here and now, focused on what’s happening. They’re comfortable with all kinds of action, because they’re totally at ease with their body. They don’t mind thinking or feeling if necessary, but they’re a lot happier doing.
Heart people are the most emotional, the most sentimental, the most thoughtful and caring…and also the most screaming-nasty-vengeful should things go wrong. Forget rational thought; forget physical reality. What matters to them are feelings!
So you can see where these types are more likely to succeed in their promotional efforts:
Promo for Each
Mind people connect with the world on a cerebral level. This makes them highly competent at examining various types of promotion, evaluating the cost vs. benefit and the pro vs. con of various choices. If a certain kind of promo requires careful thought and scrupulous follow-through, they’ll be great at it. A scheduled list of teasers? A monthly newsletter? A timeline for reaching every bookstore in the market? No problem—such planning is right up their alley.
Body people like to participate, favoring hands-on involvement in whatever they do. They’ll be happy to show up at a workshop and chat with readers, move chairs at booksignings, cheer for friends at award ceremonies, and they’ll invite the reviewers to lunch without hesitation. Their instinct for action makes them great at brainstorming ideas, tossing off freewheeling possibilities in all directions. Then, all they have to do is decide which to pursue, and dive in.
Heart people connect with others on an emotional level, so they find it easy to recognize what readers, fans, judges, bloggers, and editors want. They treasure connections that involve sharing feelings, which makes them fabulous confidantes, and they’re willing to share their own experiences with the world at large. Blogging, speaking to groups and posting online are all completely natural for them, and people respond by feeling like they’ve met a new friend.
What’s your best bet for promotion? Whatever feels comfortable for YOU. That’ll be easier, more instinctive, something you can sustain without taking too much time away from writing…and that’s what all of us want!
Laurie Schnebly Campbell, the author of Believable Characters: Creating with Enneagrams, loves psychology and marketing almost as much as she loves teaching fellow writers about both. For a list of her upcoming classes, which involve a lot of discussion and (always optional) homework, visit LaurieClass.