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The Dilemma with Selling a Story

I wrote a blog recently that is relevant to my work at the University*. As I read through it, some of the challenges mentioned were about pitching research. In layman’s terms, it’s about translating the idea so that the story is presented simply but engagingly. I realised this technique is one I am constantly honing and adapting when someone asks about my book, GOODBYE TO Italia.

With local librarians

Well how hard can a pitch be? After all I spent four years writing the book. Plus, it’s a family story so I’m not going to forget it am I? And yet, that’s part of the problem. I know it so well and to me, it’s an incredible story. Consequently, I tend to blather on when all someone wants is a quick two or three sentences capturing the essence of the book.

This is where the dilemma comes in. You only have a couple of minutes to hook that person in, so they are prompted to ask why, what, how? And even then, only a little more information should be drip fed and peppered with the appropriate amount of enthusiasm. At that point, if the glazed look hasn’t appeared then I’ve succeeded in pitching the story and a possible sale might eventuate. Oh-oh! That sounds Machiavellian or cold-hearted right? But there are millions of books out there and I know this is an interesting story, and one that is being enjoyed by a growing number of people. So, I feel I have a responsibility to respond cleverly when asked about my book. Because to tell the truth, although I love talking about my parents’ experiences during WW2, and hearing about other people’s family stories, it’s the selling that fills me with dread. And, this is something I am having to overcome without becoming a pushy salesman!

So, the next time you ask someone about what they do or about a book or a project, if they present it to you in a few short sentences that has you wanting more information, I hope you recognise they have a talent - either one they were born with, or one they have spent hours perfecting!

Marisa Parker - Author


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