Just makes you want to run right out and buy my books, doesn't it? (Imagine me rolling my eyes.)
At the ACFW conference, I took a class by Jim Rubart, who is a rare combination of fabulous writer and natural marketer. He had many great things to say, but the one that resonated with me the most was if you are not enthusiastic about your story, why should anybody else be?
That was a serious light bulb moment for me. How many opportunities have I wasted because I groaned and rambled when a person handed me an invitation to talk about my books? I've given some serious thought about why I do this. Here are some of the reasons I've come up with:
- I'm much more comfortable in a conversation when I'm listening rather than talking.
- I'm nervous about any kind of negative reaction they might have. (When I'm talking to a group of moms, I don't start off my explanation of Me, Just Different with, "Well, Skylar gets roofied at a party and is nearly date raped...")
- But the biggest is this - I'm not convinced my books sound interesting.
I think my books are good (that's an awkward thing to say...) but when I explain what they're about, I'm afraid they don't sound very good. I'm afraid they sound trite and unimaginative. I'm constantly resisting the urge to say, "I know it sounds kinda boring..."
We talked about one-lines back in July, which is a written sentence to describe your book. But you should also have a 30 second verbal spiel ready. What works well written doesn't always translate very well to verbal, I've found.
Like if you said to me, "What's your book about, Stephanie?" Wouldn't it be weird if I said to you, "A quick-witted, intelligent teen, secretly pursues her dream of publishing a novel after being ostracized by the snarky friends who inspired her story." It just doesn't sound right.
Instead I would probably start with the title. "Out of Reach is about a high school junior whose lifelong friends have turned on her. She's really hurt by what they've done, and she devotes herself to writing a novel. At first she does it out of revenge and a desire to escape, but she falls in love with writing and begins to secretly pursue publishing it."
That clocks in at 15 seconds. It would probably be faster in real life because I tend to speed-talk when nervous. With my remaining time, I say something about why the book is special to me or what's been fun or unique about the project. I haven't test driven this much, but I did try it out at the conference, and I think it worked really well. It helped to convey my enthusiasm for my manuscript, which people like to see. Especially if those people are agents and editors.
Hands down, the best verbal pitch I've ever heard was Angela Hunt's for The Elevator. Our class asked what her manuscript was about and she told us, "Three women are stuck on an elevator as a hurricane comes in. Woman number one is a wife who just found out her husband is cheating, and she's on her way upstairs with a gun. Woman number two is her husband's mistress, and she's on her way upstairs to demand he leave his wife. And the third woman is the maid ... who just killed him."
That was about 5 years ago when she told us that, and while I might be a little off on some of those details, it's a darn good sign that this many years later I remember it as well as I do. Everyone in the class went, "Oooh."
Maybe the "oooh" factor in your book isn't quite as tangible, but when verbally pitching your book, don't underestimate the value of your enthusiasm.
What about you? Do you have a tough time talking about the project you're working on, or are you delighted when people ask?
Hope you guys have a great weekend!