Writers are very passionate about what they do. They love the stories they craft, the characters they create, the emotion they get swept up into.
But it feels like it’s one of the hardest things to talk about our books to other people.
I have even hesitated telling people that I’m a writer, because I don’t want to get that dreaded question, “What’s your book about?” Because I know my answer will come out in some disorganized mess, and what if they think it’s a terrible idea? What if it’s not as good as I thought it was and my content illusion gets shattered?
And sometimes, that is actually what happens.
But maybe you’re confident about your book and you think you can talk about it without getting nervous (you lucky, extrovert, you). But then you actually tell someone about your current project…and they give their honest opinion. Maybe brutally honest. And your confidence is shattered, because maybe it wasn’t something you wanted to hear about your baby.
Casually pitching your book to a friend, family member, or random person doesn’t have to be so stressful. And it doesn’t have to end in a disaster either.
As an introvert myself, I know it’s hard to talk to strangers let alone open up about something as personal as my books.
Despite the title of this post, this problem isn’t just for introverts (though things are a bit harder for us shy ones). So I’m here to help you (and myself quite frankly) prepare for that dreaded question.
This is probably the most important part of talking comfortably about your book. A pitch isn’t just for presenting your book to an agent, editor, or publishing house. A pitch can be used for just everyday conversation. This will save your life.
(the following tips have been infused with advice from Nadines Brandes from Realm Makers 😉 )
A verbal pitch is extremely important, more so than a written one emailed to an agent. Basically…
Written pitch=temporarily used
Verbal pitch=continually used
You need this memorized verbal pitch in your tool belt to pull out whenever someone asks about your book. Your pitch needs to include key elements to ensure that the listener (and potential future reader) is intrigued and wants to know more. It needs:
- Setting and genre. This helps orient the listener, and establish genre for agents and readers.
- The golden nugget/hook. The hook of the story can overlap with the mention of setting and your main character. Be careful not to add too many specifics. Let the “ooo” factor grab readers.
- The problem. This can also overlap with the setting. It’s the “this is why you should read this” element of the pitch. Present the dilemma to the listener, and leave them wanting to find out what happens.
A pitch doesn’t have to be long. Maybe 1-3 sentences. Details can be dangerous, and you don’t need to fine-tune it too much. It also helps to practice on other stories before you dive in on your own. Pick one of your favorite books and write a pitch for it. Once you’ve tried this on several, you’ll see that you’re beginning to get the hang of this pitching thing. 😉
Writing is something you’re passionate about, right? Something you love? Don’t be afraid to let that love show through when you’re talking about your book. Being confident will leave a better lasting impression on the person you’re talking to. People like to see someone that’s passionate about what they do. Passion is contagious.
If you have your pitch written and perfected, then be confident in that fact. You know what you’re doing. So go forth and conquer the world! 😀
Buuuuut…. confidence doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s a process. Which brings me to the next tip…
We all know practice makes perfect. After you’ve crafted your pitch and tweaked it to where you want it, you need to memorize that thing. Spend even just a little bit of time every day to work on getting your pitch stuck in your head.
And when you think you have it down pretty good, work on it some more. When the moment comes to answer ‘The Question’, and nervousness kicks in, suddenly things start flying out of our memory. Suddenly you only remember bits and pieces of your pitch, or maybe you don’t remember any of it (this has happened to me on numerous occasions).
You have to practice until you are sick and tired of practicing. Ask your family and friends to randomly ask you “so what’s your book about?” Just out of the blue, to catch you off guard and see how well you do remembering your pitch. Also…
Say it out loud.
Sometimes I do this when I’m editing my book. When I’ve written something and already edited two or more times, my brain begins to see what those sentences should look like, instead what they really look like. Like it auto-corrects and my eyes just pass right over it.
But saying it out loud always works for me to catch those mistakes I would’ve missed otherwise. And saying it out loud can help you figure out if the phrasing sounds awkward, or if you need to lengthen or shorten sentences.
If it doesn’t go according to plan…
This is going to happen sometimes. Someone will ask the question about your book, you’ll promptly answer with your prepared pitch, and the listener just is kinda….”meh.” Maybe they don’t look like they’d read your story, or are even interested in how it plays out. This can be extremely unsettling for a writer, and can cause some serious doubt in our abilities to write well and craft original stories. Let me tell you…
Understand that your book is not for everyone. Not all agents or publishers are looking for the same things. Not all readers love the same genre or type of story.
But there’s always someone for your book.
Someone out there that will one day read it and love it. Someone that will feel connected to the characters in a deep way. Maybe your story will change someone, totally turn their world upside-down…in a good way.
So keep that in mind, and remember…
Christ is the only foundation for confidence.
He’s got you. He knows exactly where your writing is going to take you, or even not take you. Don’t let a pitching session gone wrong make you forget that fact.
Do you have trouble talking about your book to people? What are some ways that you overcome that? Would any of these tips help you? Chat with me in the comments!
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