By Denise Miller Holmes, Director, Words for the Journey
Wherever you go, as a writer you need to promote yourself. You will especially need to promote when you are engaging editors and agents at conferences. ALWAYS be ready to tell people what you do as a writer–and keep it to thirty seconds or less.
A dynamite way to do this is with a verbal business card. It’s very much like the “elevator pitch” you practice for your books, but it’s about you.
When asked what they do, most writers say, “I am a writer,” or, “I write romance novels,” or “I write historical non-fiction,” etc. This response is somewhat interesting, but it doesn’t grab. Proponents of the verbal business card say that you need to hook the listener, much like you hook the reader at the beginning of a novel.
Here is what a VBC does–it discards bland verbs like “I write” or “I am” and uses exciting verbs instead such as build, craft, teach, inform, manage, design, construct, generate, train, guide, establish, mentor, regulate, develop, structure, organize, etc.
The reason these verbs work better is they are verbs used to describe what authorities do. Teachers are authorities in our society. People who construct and train and design and regulate all have authority. Writers? Not so much.
Notice how much more powerful these statements are than “I am a writer”:
“I craft futuristic mystery stories that inform readers about social issues in an entertaining way.”
“I teach people who hate gardening how to care for their gardens in five easy steps so they have more time to enjoy Life.”
If you are a Christian writer, here are more examples:
“I inform Christian women through my romance novels about God’s love, so they can find a deeper happiness.”
“I design materials for Sunday schools that helps primary-school-age children understand how to have a walk with God.”
“I teach teenagers about history through non-fiction that emphasizes the biblical worldview so they make constructive decisions.”
There are two more things we need to look at when writing a VBC–specificity and benefit. These will be covered in Part 2.