Saturday, July 29, 2006

Bragging About Your Baby

By Keith Fisher

How many of us when asked about our children would say, "He/she is a good boy/girl but they are just like the other kids." Would we say it different if their life depended on how much we brag about our kid?

This has become a real dilemma for me. Not that I have trouble bragging about my kid, (My daughter is more talented than yours.) but bragging, even explaining about my book can be hard.

Last weekend, we were the hosts for a block party and someone asked whether I plan to write a cookbook. Since I was half of the 2005 Grand Champion Team at the World Championship Dutch Oven Cook Off, it is a question many people ask. (See I do know how to brag.) I told the inquirer at the block party I had been approached by a publisher for that reason, but I was going to try and use that submission to bring attention to my novel.

"Do you write fiction?" he asked. It surprised me that he didn’t know, because after letting the secret out, I’ve been embarrassed to have so many people know about my investing so much time without a clear return on my investment. I have yet to be published so many folks think I am deluding myself.

Yes, I write contemporary LDS fiction, I said. Then the inevitable next question, "What have you written?"
"I am in the process of writing five . . . right now I’m getting ready to subm . . . well, it’s a story about a girl who . . ." That’s my dilemma, how do I sum up a complex story in a few words that will intrigue someone and make them want to read the book?

Yes, I have trouble writing query letters. It was easier when I could send in the whole baby, bath water and all. Also, in order to submit to Cedar Fort we are asked to fill out a marketing survey and send it with the submission. It’s an easy form to fill out and I am more than happy to say I will do everything I can to help sell my book. There is one question however, question number four . . . I copied it here:

What does your book say that no other expert or author says?
It’s a fair question. I realize that the question is designed to assess the writer’s belief in his/her self. When I start to answer, I’m sure I have a dumbfounded, "deer in the headlights" look on my face and I am left feeling as I did at the block party.

I know the very life of my baby hangs in the balance, and my stage fright causes me to wish my latest book was more unusual. I want to say: "You have to read the whole story to get the full impact." Then I look at other books and ask the question in light of what other writers have written.

I have discovered that many stories, albeit they are told differently, are pretty much the same. So I came up with an answer to question number four, although I won’t put it on the form. Tell me what you think.

I told this story as it was given to me. I’m sure that other writers could tell the story, but the inspiration came to me, not to the other writers. Like the missionary who just happens to be in the right place at the right time, with just the right personality, I told this story in order to touch the hearts of those who need solace and to hold the attention of many others.

My daughter may never be valedictorian or become President of the United States, but she has the potential of touching hearts for good and making others feel good about their lives. My book will do the same.


Tristi Pinkston said...

Why not put that on the form, Keith? It's a very honest, straightforward answer, and if they don't want to hear who you are and what makes you tick, they aren't the publisher for you.

My two cents :)

A Novel Approach said...

I love your answer--"I told this story as it was given to me." Oh, how I can identify with that. I can also identify with the threat of diminished monetary reward for the genre I chose to write, which is why I now have a non-fiction project in mind, also.

You have also touched a nerve, indirectly, pointing out to me that a non-fiction book had better have something to say that others have not yet said. Excellent advice. Although I have not made significant changes in my intent, it made me evaluate more deeply. I just wanted you to know that I appreciate that comment and my manuscript (can you say that when you do it all on PC?) will be better for having read it.

Steven O'Dell

Keith Fisher said...

OK you talked me into using it. Thanks for the good words.

yes I think I would still call it a manuscript. good luck with the non-fiction I understand it sells better than fiction