It takes a lot of guts to actually introduce yourself as a “writer”. The word itself seems to precipitate an immediate game of twenty questions.
What do you write? Did you write a book?
Where can I read your stuff? Is it in the local library?
When did you start? Do you write fiction?
Would I recognize any of the titles?
Do you know Oprah Winfrey? She reads a lot, you know?
The barrage used to intimidate me and make me stumble all over myself but not anymore.
I remember the first time I told a stranger that I’d written a novel and they asked me what it was about.
Now, that’s a very valid and legitimate question (and one that should be expected) but I often lost myself in the answer.
Words of explanation, plot twists, and descriptions of minor characters started spilling out like that of long stringy drool from a baby’s mouth–I simply couldn’t be stopped.
Does this sound at all familiar?
Well, there’s this girl and she well you know, likes a guy but her older sister is leaving town to go to college and her mom is crying all the time…then in chapter seventeen, the main character falls in love with ….oh wait… I forgot to mention that her best friend is sleeping with her dad’s uncles cousin who lives in England in this tiny apartment with his dog Fluffy and….blah blah blah…
Eyes are glazed over and you curse under your breath because you’ve done it again. Dang, it.
Identifying as a writer means being prepared for the questions.
People are curious and want to know more. I believe the fascination stems from a place of respect and reverence. Writing is an art form and let’s face it not everyone can do it.
Prepare an answer for those curious about your writing. Make a list of the things you’ve written. Poems, articles, essays, short stories, or full-blown novels—whatever—you don’t need to explain details to anyone.
You may say:
“Yes, I’ve completed my first book and it’s with my agent who is shopping publishers to find it a home” (that’s true for me right now), or you may say “I’m going to self-publish it soon.”
I’m a freelance writer. I have a blog and do articles. Here’s my card”—which of course you carry all the time—”check out my website”.
Perhaps, you need to work on your elevator pitch.
This is a four or five line condensed explanation of what your book is about.
An elevator pitch is a clear explanation of your book that can be told in an elevator ride from the Lobby to the (hopefully) Upper/highest floor.
If you’re headed to a conference this is important to practice—you never know when you’ll be stuck in an elevator with an agent or publisher.
It’s meant to introduce your work and pique the interest of the listener.
The key is that you must first write it.
Include KEY information.
An elevator pitch should include:
- A greeting and your name: Hello, my name is Faye Arcand.
- The name/length/genre of your book: ie: Novel, YA Fiction-Thriller, 80K words and completed.
- Hook Lead: ie: Susie, a naive high school student is so wrapped up in the hyped-up drama of boyfriends, fitting in, and prom that she doesn’t even realize she’s being followed by a serial killer who likes to keep trophies of his sexy young victims and is a lot closer than she realizes.
- Will she realize the truth before it’s too late or will she become one of his victims?
- This book of survival, smarts, and teen angst will leave you breathless.
- I would like to share a sample of my work with you in hopes of securing an agent for representation.
You can see that all the basic information about yourself, the main character, and the main conflict is given. And, you’ve stated your goal at the end.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
and always remember your own calling card AKA:
Business Cards… Never leave home without them!
They’re your link to others. I’d leave the phone number off unless you don’t mind getting phone calls from strangers. You never know who’s hand that card will end up in.
I love VistaPrint where you can get business cards without breaking the bank.
11 thoughts on “If You Introduce Yourself as a Writer Prepare to be Questioned.”
A very helpful post on many fronts! Indeed saying “I’m a writer” brings forth a barrage of questions and also some quite annoying comments. While I LOVE answering questions of all sorts, and could talk about the ins and outs of publishing for hours, the snark can be quite eye-rolling. Some tidbits I’ve heard countless times after saying “I write books” at a party – “Do people still read?” “No one makes money as a writer.” “Your book would probably sell faster if you wrote dragons into it (true story – someone actually said that to me haha).” “Oh, writing, sure. But I mean, what’s your real job?” “You know what you SHOULD write about? (Proceeds on some long-winded rant about a completely different subject than my book)” LOL.
I love this!! I’ve heard so many of the same comments. The snarky eye-rolling is real! I hear all the time….people don’t buy books anymore…ugh. I’m often asked: ‘are you any good?’ … how does one answer that. I’m getting better at answering it… I think next time I’ll ask if they think I should put a dragon in my story (I don’t write fantasy)… just to throw them all off…lol. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. xo
Good idea thinking of the “elevator pitch” as simply your way of telling someone what you’re book is about. That I don’t sweat. The elevator pitch scares me. 😉
Nah!! close your eyes and say your schpeel…You strike me as someone who doesn’t scare easily…You rock. Thanks for stopping by. So appreciated. xoxo
This is outstanding really important stuff. I’m glad you published it. I wish I would have thought of it. It reminded me that among all the things on my to-do list; I need to get business cards.
Thanks for this information I really appreciate it.
Hey Billie! I’m so glad the post was helpful to you. Yes…you must have business cards. Make sure you carry some in your purse when you’re out and about town. They come in so handy. I’m constantly meeting people and you can even put your blog site on your cards. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. Make sure you post a pic when you get them. xoxo
I once did an elevator pitch in a washroom. Yep, at the Surrey International Writers’ conference. The event had just ended & I made a last-minute pit-stop before getting into my car. A top New York agent was there & I told her how disappointed I was that I hadn’t been able to get an appointment with her. She asked for my pitch right there, standing at the bathroom sinks. While drying my hands, I did so & got an invitation to submit. Always be ready, folks!
Aggie! That is such a fantastic story. Imagine being asked to pitch in the Ladies Room. I think people sometimes forget that agents *want* to hear pitches and have their interest piqued. So now I’ll always think of it as an elevator/washroom pitch!! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. xoxo
Very helpful information! Presented with panache of course. Note that this applies to all of the arts. Be prepared.
Hi Dianne. Thanks for stopping by. You’re so right. I never thought about it applying to all the arts but it’s true isn’t it? People also feel very entitled when someone identifies as a creative….Yes. Be prepared. So glad you popped in. Don’t be a stranger. xoxo