On Discussing Your Book

What’s it about?

Whoever thought that one question could so paralyze an author. But it does—every time. Without fail. No matter how many times I’ve rehearsed what I’ll say about the book in my head, no matter how many intriguing phrases I’ve tried to come up with to better pitch my work, whenever this question spills out of an unassuming throat, all the words fly from my brain.

Last night, I was fortunate enough to have a mini-reunion of sorts with a bunch of people I haven’t seen in almost a decade. Of course, my big news was I published a book. And almost instantly the next question came out and the paralysis began. Example:

Person: So what’s it about?

Me: Uh…it’s a young adult fantasy.

[long awkward pause]

Person: And…?

Me: Uh…there’s magic?

Person: Cool, cool.

[increasingly awkward pause as person slinks away]

I wish I was making this up for comedic value, but I’m really not. Talking about my book is HARD. Making whatever comes out of my mouth sound both interesting and genuine is even harder. It’s not that the book isn’t interesting (it is, I promise!) or that I’m not passionate about it (I am!), it’s simply… awkward. How am I supposed to sum up what took me months of development in a few sentences? And more importantly, how am I supposed to sum it up in a way that doesn’t sound like I’m reading the back of the book? Sidenote: At one point during my evening, a friend of mine took her copy of the book out and I legit handed it to people who asked what it was about so they could read the back instead of attempting to communicate. I know this is probably not the right course of action, but I was feeling the pressure.

I think it feels so awkward because the book has such a huge part of my soul thrown into it that I’m terrified of talking about it because it feels almost too personal a conversation to have. What is it about? Well, it’s about struggle, and failure, and feeling helpless and alone even when you’re surrounded by humanity. It’s about people depending on you when you still don’t know how to depend on yourself. It’s about love and how painful it is. It’s me, bleeding onto a page, that’s what it’s about. Can you imagine the looks I would receive for throwing that into a crowded room?

Separating myself from my work is something I’ve always struggled with and something I’ve spent a considerable amount of time working on. I’ve done it successfully enough when it comes to critiques, but apparently I’ve failed to replicate it in terms of having a normal conversation with someone about the finished product.

Whatever the reason, be it my own anxiety, social awkwardness, or simply being a new author, it’s a terrifying hurdle I didn’t expect to have to climb, but will work on doing so, one foot at a time.

Anyone else have this problem when it comes to his/her writing? Make me feel less alone in the comments!

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My dad and stepmom got this for me for Christmas, I’m so excited about it!

 

 

9 thoughts on “On Discussing Your Book

  1. You always provide such valuable insights. This post is accurate. That dreaded question–“What’s it about”–is rough. I have yet to condense my entire story into a couple of captivating sentences. The proper pitch hasn’t come to me yet. Best of luck to you in finding that perfect pitch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s totally where I’m struggling. Because I feel like there’s “the pitch” which is what you send in an email to reviewers which I also admittedly need help with as well, but then there’s the informal “we’re going to chat about your book/life/what’s new” talk as well. That for me is dreadful. I’m super nervous in social situations to begin with and this makes it like 1000 times worse. I’m sitting there thinking, “Can you just read it?” Although, to be honest, discussing it with people who HAVE read it makes me a tad uncomfortable too. It’s just so strange. I’m hoping it’s one of those things I’ll become used to though, because it sort of comes with the gig 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed, you’ve ventured into published author territory! This is a battle you have to fight, and I truly wish you the best in it. I’m still early in the writing process, nowhere near publication, but even now when people ask what my book is about, the pitch isn’t ripe. Even the synopsis of the novel on my blog doesn’t cut it yet! “Can you just read it?” has to be my favorite sales pitch. Give it a shot, let me know how it works out! 😀

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  2. I love all the posts about your journey through all of this. I haven’t published anything yet, but my family will ask, “How’s the writing going?” I usually mumble and make something up. Keep up the great work Aimee!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you like them! And I totally agree with you about family and such. My parents will ask me how things are going with “the book” and I’m usually somewhere between telling them, “Good” and going on three hour talks about the industry and editing and Amazon royalty rates and quarter market reports and just boring everyone into oblivion. Depends what day you catch me on, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Personally, I’m the type of person to judge a book by its cover, so it made the most marketing sense for me! Plus, it’s a great thing to work with a designer who has been in the industry and knows what people want and are looking for in a cover, because I really don’t. When I first started working with Fiona, I had literally NO idea what I even wanted the cover to look like, so it was super helpful to have someone ask the right questions and dig through my brain and come up with ideas. It took a lot of pressure off, and the experience comes highly recommended!

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