“So, what do you do?”
“Uh…I’m a writer.”
“A rider? Like horses?”
“Oh. So, what’s your book about?”
And here’s where I would normally stammer something very intelligent like, “Oh, it’s about this girl who like…does stuff.”
I’d like to say that over the years I’ve gotten better at elevator speeches, self-promotion and selling myself to agents and editors. I would love to tell you that now, I’m the self-marketing queen and if you want to learn more, just come check out my workshop titled How to Promote Yourself Without Sounding Like An Idiot.
But, I don’t have a workshop. I don’t have a very good elevator speech. I’m just a lowly beginning writer who would prefer to keep to the in-front-of-the-computer stuff and keep away from the go-out-there-and-promote-yourself-stuff.
Going to writing conferences taught me a lot about a good elevator speech. “Sum it up in two sentences!” one speaker ranted. “If I can’t know the entirety of your book in two sentences, then I don’t want to read your book!”
So, I practiced my two sentences.
“A twenty-four year old girl, who is a photographer and works with her best friend, absolutely loves to match make and she’s been really successful in the past with setting people up only this time she’s trying to get her pastor and her co-worker together, but meanwhile there is this thing going on with her best friend, Brandon. She meets a girl and they at first don’t like each other, but then they become good friends and then she gets the idea that maybe Brandon and the girl could be together but then she meets another guy and wonders about him and a few other things happen and then the story ends.”
Later, I discovered these sentences would never work. I only named the side character. The main character should definitely be named in your two-sentence elevator speech.
I learned how to use terms to my advantage. I write chick-lit, mostly. To us writers, this makes perfect sense. “Oh, fiction for girls,” you would say.
A layman, though, screws their face up and says, “The gum?”
I now supply every book signing with a healthy dose of Chiclets the chewing gum. It makes me giggle. It makes other people wonder if all of the people buying my book have halitosis issues.
I’ve learned how to identify my audience. I always loved to write suspense growing up. Adult suspense. Someone was forever being shot, strangled, run over or falling into a deep dark abyss that probably never ended.
When suspense proposal after thriller proposal got rejected, I sat down in frustration to rewrite Adult Suspense Novel #1 again and ended up thinking about the girls I worked with. I’ve worked with junior-high and high-school girls since I was eighteen. That age group will always have one fist on my heart. So, I started writing. From my heart. The same heart with the girls fisted to it. And came up with a chick-lit book.
It took me a long time to admit that. And I’ve already told you how the laymen reacted when I told them my new author status. But they’re happily chewing away with minty fresh breath, so they’re fine.
And wouldn’t you know it? That was the book that got published. The goofy, meaningless book that was just about a girl, her love of matchmaking, and her love for Jesus. No one got murdered, investigated or sued in it. No one was going to read this book and be glued to their seats with the lights on the whole night.
But maybe someone would laugh. Maybe it would brighten someone’s day. Maybe it would lead them towards a hug from their heavenly Dad.
The best thing I ever learned about writing was the best thing I’ve learned about life in general. Be humble and let the glory go where it belongs. God uses ordinary people to accomplish His extraordinary work. The writers I respect the most are maybe not even the most talented, but they are the most humble and the most real. And God has blessed their work.
And now, I’m off to tweak my two sentences. I’m thinking they might be a bit on the short side.
Erynn Mangum is twenty-four and the author of the Lauren Holbrook series and the Maya Davis series (due in stores next spring!). She is married to her best friend, Jon O’Brien, and spends most of her non-writing time hanging out with her amazing family and experimenting on new mistakes in the kitchen. Visit her website at www.erynnmangum.com.
Erynn will be giving away one of her books to one of our Seekerville posting guests. Drawing will be at 8pm MST. So in the words of Mary Connealy, "this is not the time to lurk."