Are You Embarrassed to Talk About Your Book?

“I’m writing a book,” you say, and then immediately tense, inwardly cursing your loose tongue. You wish you could plug your ears against the inevitable question, but nothing can stop it…

“Oh really? What’s it about?”

The loaded question. The one that can’t be answered unless the asker is ready to commit a full hour to listening. The one you, oddly, don’t really want to answer.

It was because of this question I rarely talked about my writing when I was a teenager. Or, if I did, I’d write it off with a muttered, “Oh, just random stories.” No mention of the words fantasysword fighting, or imagination would cross my lips for fear the listener wouldn’t take me seriously. When I did get pressed to admit I wrote fantasy, I’d still try to dumb it down with, “Not the type that has magic or dragons or anything,” even though I gobbled up every book with magic and dragons.

Is this something other authors struggle with? The romance writer staying silent for fear of being lumped in with gas station paperbacks and half-naked couples on cliff tops. The speculative fiction author avoiding book-talk for fear people might think he/she is too much of a daydreamer and detached from reality. Or the historical fiction author who is embarrassed because people might hear the word “historical” and think “boring.”

Blog--Hey! I've written a book! 3

In a world where judgment is practically synonymous with conversation, it can be tough to admit your passions, stand by your pursuits, and speak boldly about your story. For me, I didn’t really start to find confidence until I met my husband who loved my writing before we even started loving each other. With complete pride (and no permission from me), he told more people about my book and stories than I ever did. I finally had to accept it and a glorious freedom came with that acceptance.

But I still couldn’t talk about it. Not like he did, anyway. Not even to publishers or editors unless I spent a full 12 hours psyching myself up for the encounter.

Not long after my husband spread word to the world that I loved writing, I met a fellow author, Micah J. Chrisman–a fantasy author. The moment anyone asked him what he wrote, he launched into an elaborate explanation without a moment’s thought. Not just that, but he did this with exuberance and unmasked excitement. Not a single person who asked about his book could doubt Micah’s love for writing and love for his stories.

At first, I envied his confidence (in a wistful way.) Then, I realized, it just took a bit of determination on my part to emulate this. The best part was, talking to Micah incited me to talk about my writing too, without the weight of self-consciousness.

The next writer’s conference I went to, I determined to be confident like I’d watched Micah do countless times. I determined to be proud of what I’d written, like my husband was. With every one-on-one, I stepped forth with a deep breath of determined, albeit sometimes forced, confidence. That conference, I received three requests from publishers for my novel, A Time to Die. Two months later, I was contracted with Marcher Lord Press.

Sometimes, it just takes an example to remind us…this is our passion. And it’s worth being confident about. I hope to be a similar example for other shy authors out there. What I’ve found is, when I’m actually brave enough to talk about my writing, people are genuinely interested. Proud, even, to know someone they consider “ambitious.” The support is there, waiting, for every single author out there.

How about you? Do you struggle with embarrassment over your writing–or your passion in general?


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About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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  1. Absolutely. For me, it’s often the struggle regarding the ethics of self-promotion. I feel guilty if I bring up the fact that I’ve written a book in a conversation, especially with somebody I just met. I ask myself if I’m just trying to brag, even though I have nothing to brag about. After all, anything good about my book came from God, not from me.

    Thing is, we have to tell people about it. If you want your writing to go anywhere beyond the screen of your computer, you have to talk with others about what you’ve written. I made an amazing connection with another author because my in-laws mentioned that I’m an author to somebody they met at a condo owners meeting in another state!

    Great blog.

    • Nadine Brandes

      Thank you, Clint!

      Yes, self-promotion brings on a whole different side of hesitancy to talk about my writing, but I’ve come to learn that most people are genuinely interested! And that personal connection is so much more important than spreading the word about your book simply through social media.

      Love the story about the author connection. 😀

  2. Yep. My husband told everybody way before I was ready. Ha! I am slowly coming out of my shell with it. 🙂

    • Nadine Brandes

      That’s great! I love that our husbands did something similar. 🙂 I guess God knew what we needed in our men!

  3. The thing that has helped me talk about my writing is having one sentence that describes the nut of the story. It has to be short enough for me to memorize (the shorter the better, right?). It has to mention the lead character, what that person wants, and why they can’t get it.

    If whoever I’m talking to is interested in that, there’s plenty of room to expand.

    If they’re not, the conversation moves on.

I love hearing from you!