"What's your book about?"
I'm guessing a lot of you internally react to that question like this: "ACK, NO! NOT THE DREADED QUESTION! MUST RUN, MUST HIDE! I CAN'T ANSWER THAT QUESTION! WHAT DO I DO? I'M DOOMED!"
Am I getting the main idea at least? I know a lot of people struggle with having this question asked of them, even if in their minds they have a strong hold on what their story is truly about. Sometimes having someone point-blank ask you, however, is intimidating and can make you freeze, if not even start doubting the strength of your story.
Have no fear; it happens. One simple suggestion I could make, if you're far enough along on your story, is to take a day to experiment with different explanations of your book, whether it's a one sentence summary or a full-blown explanation of the plot (just don't make it too long-winded). Be prepared.
However, we can all get caught off-guard. So what do we do when this happens besides nervously laugh it off and say you have a hard time explaining the story to others? These answers are easy but big no-no's, and you'll probably lose respect if you respond this way.
Instead, opt for saying you aren't sharing the details with many people at the moment, but give the genre of the book and maybe the age group if you have a specific one. For me, it's easy to say I'm writing fantasy, because that sparks someone to ask more questions (such as "Will there be dragons?" to which I can respond yes ;) ). If you're writing a historical romance, give the time period, whether in the Western 1800s or Victorian England. This shuts the door on having to provide a detailed account of the story, but it also gives the listeners something to latch onto so that they can be engaged with completely turning them off.
If you have a strong hold on the conflict for your character, that could work as well. For instance, you could respond with, "The story is about a girl who moves from the East to the West as a mail-order bride in the 1800s, and she has to learn to adapt to the ways of the West." (Just a generalization, not thinking of a particular story.)
Basically, don't be intimidated. Being asked this question doesn't mean you have to divulge every plot line and conflict in your story idea; start with a vague explanation if you're caught off-guard, or if you prefer, and go from there. The key is to still remain in control and confident in your answer so that people can see you're serious about your writing. We should be able to answer this question with excitement at sharing our work.
On another note, I've got some exciting posts coming up in the future. For a sneak peak on one of them, I had shared with all of you that I signed up for Bethany House Publisher's review club, where I receive free copies of books to read and then review on my blog. I'm excited to let all of you know I just received my first two books! (There is usually one book per month, but this was a special month.) I have a busy schedule right now, but I will have at least one of the books reviewed by the end of this month.
Don't forget to vote on the blog poll at the top right of the blog, too! Let's get these votes in, people! :)