Monday, June 23, 2014

Talking About Writing

Last week, I blogged about promoting my books and how I (and many other authors, as well as many other artists) feel this is the absolute worst part of our job. We like our anonymity, but the truth is that our work will simply sit, unread and unlooked at by anyone other than ourselves, and remain unsold unless we get out there and let people know it exists. We have to talk about them.

Now when I say "talk", I don't mean the literal definition of "words coming out of one's mouth". I can talk to people about almost anything, including books. What I (and many authors) have trouble with is talking about OUR OWN books. We feel this fear that maybe we'll be seen like that goofy new parent who insists on showing everyone photos of their baby and subjecting innocent strangers to rambling monologues about their baby's first smile (because,) of course, other babies have gas, but YOUR baby smiles), and trying to convince everyone how unique and special YOUR child is.

However, the fact is that the number one question an author is going to be asked about their book, whether it be the publisher, bookstore owner, or potential buyer, is "What is your book about?" or "Tell me about your book." And that is when the author must swallow hard and speak up: "MY BOOK tells this intriguing story. MY BOOK is populated by these interesting characters. You will enjoy reading MY BOOK."

The truth is that a book must be talked about in order to generate interest. It's very true that you can't judge a book by its cover. A striking cover image might attract some initial attention, but think of all the competing book covers on a library or bookstore shelf. Some may promise more than the story can deliver and others don't even begin to hint at the treasure within. And who better to talk about a book than the one who created it?
I was privileged to be given the opportunity to have a book signing at Treasure House Books & Gifts in Old Town Albuquerque. The photo shows me talking to a potential customer (who actually DID buy the book) about the book and my series. But before I could get to the point of talking to the customer, I had to talk to the bookstore owner. I had to convince him to carry my book in his store and sponsor an event for me. And before that, I had to present myself to a publisher and convince her to publish my book. And each time, I had to talk about MY BOOK.

I don't know if it ever gets easier. I know my husband, Paul, is always eager to talk about my work to anyone, even strangers on the street (whom he directed into the store to talk to me and hopefully make a purchase--the bookstore owner loves him!) but somehow it seems self-serving and prideful to talk about oneself and one's book. An author needs to get over that if they want to keep getting published. The first thing an author has to do is write something worth publishing and selling, then they need to get over themselves to be able to talk about what they wrote and had published.

Go ahead and be proud of your "baby".  Here's a pic of me and one of mine. I hope you like it!


  1. I've heard that authors should have an "elevator pitch", a brief description of their book's genre and plot when asked about it, perhaps in an elevator. Good idea for all of us.

    1. At the Tucson Festival of Books, another author advised me to come up with a "30-second pitch". Sometimes that's all the time a stranger will give you to sell your book to them. It sounds easy, but it's amazing how one has to really work to condense a story into a 30-second commercial!