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!