There was a time where people asking what my book was about would cause me The Anxiety. I'd say things like, "It's about a boy who... is in a band... and, um, his best friend died. But it isn't as depressing as all that! Because he takes this class and, you know, meets this girl. And ...stuff."
And people would stare at me all 0.0 and I'd think to myself that I should never be allowed to tell anyone what my book is about ever again because I kept botching the pitch.
After the book deal, my contract described the book as "A dark contemporary YA about a teenage boy's emotional freefall after his best friend dies of an alcohol overdose."
So I started telling people that when they asked what it was about.
And they'd stare at me like 0.0
That's when I realized that it wasn't just my poor delivery of the "pitch" that threw people; it was also the dead friend thing. I actually had someone (at a writer's conference!!!!!!) remark all sarcastic, "Oh. That sounds like an uplifting book."
My response was, "Actually, yes. It is."
I feel like people want to be excited for me. Because I wrote a book! And it's getting published! And that's so great! Oh, but there's this dead kid. And emotion. And won't it be sad? And how can anyone speak with enthusiasm for this story when there's this poor dead boy and all the grief?????
At another contemporary YA author's presentation this year, I observed that I am not alone in bringing the awkward. S/he spoke of a coming book deal. There was applause. S/he gave a one-sentence pitch, and then waited for a few seconds in silence. The audience seemed like they didn't know how to react. They were super stoked for the deal, of course, as their earlier applause revealed. But the subject matter was dark so it was like they didn't know if they should clap again because it would be irreverent for the topic at hand.
Maybe it would have been. I don't know. I was comforted, though, to see that I'm not the only author out there whose pitch can throw people for a loop. That's what we get for being so character/voice-driven and having "issues" as our main hooks, I suppose. :-)