What is your book about?
Providing an answer to that question has rendered me tongue-tied on a number of occasions. It’s not that I don’t know what my own book is about. The problem is how to convey the essence of the book without sounding like I am spouting marketing copy.
In a nutshell, here’s what it’s about:
Stuck between a scheming bully and an anonymous notewriter, thirteen-year-old Wendy Thibodeaux just wants to survive to see high school.
That’s a lot better than saying, “Um, it’s about a girl.” Seriously, I said that once–to a stranger, not an agent or editor. Fortunately.
The following blurb covers the main points of the story. I used it in a number of query letters.
Not-quite-fourteen-year-old Wendy Thibodeaux doesn’t care one bit about being popular like her classmates Tookie and the Sticks. That is, until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even her best friend is hiding something. While juggling divorced parents, caring for abandoned puppies, and trying to make the high school track team, who has time to play detective?
Still sounds like marketing copy, doesn’t it.
Who hasn’t read a book and connected with a character like she is your long-lost twin, or at least a new best friend? The first few words of dialogue spoken or the first action taken–and you know. You feel comfortable. This is going to be a book you will actually finish, without skimming through paragraphs or pages to get to “the good stuff.” From the first chapter, the book connects you to the protagonist and her story world.
Likewise, the writer recognizes when the world he has created and the characters he has placed within it are right. He experiences that wonderful moment of “Yes! That’s it.” After revising a sentence or paragraph or page until his eyes bulge and fingers ache, it finally makes sense. It is real. The writer’s words and the story world harmonize into the perfect relationship.
I believe I have found the publishing relationship that is right for me. I feel comfortable being in my publisher’s world and having her in mine, as well as in Wendy’s story world of BIRD FACE.
After years of working and wondering if the right connection would be made–and when–Yes! I know it has been. And it’s all good stuff.
Just as I’ve placed myself in Wendy’s skin so many times to develop her character into someone who could be your best friend, it’s her turn to wear mine now. And she’s jumping up and down for joy.