“What’s your book about?”
How you answer that question can mean the difference between an agent or publisher and relative obscurity. It can absolutely set you on the path to having a bestselling indie title. We all dread elevator pitches, but like it or not, you need one. A good one.
No, a great one.
So where do you start?
Let’s start with what an elevator pitch is NOT.
It’s not your entire plot.
Say it out loud to yourself.
“It’s not my entire plot.”
” …an elevator pitch is a quick persuasive speech that is used to create interest in a project, a concept, or people. It distills your ideas into the simplest, clearest points of value, what makes you different, and instills enough curiosity to make the prospect want to hear more. ” – StrategyPeak
So the first thing you should do is make a list of the most interesting parts of your story. What happens? What is cool about your story? What interesting thing will attract the person who hears your pitch?
If you’re looking at the first Star Wars movie?
“Young man wins a glorious battle against the Empire. ”
Okay, that’s what happens. But does it sing to you? Make you want to read it?
How about “Ordinary young man discovers he has mysterious powers. When his family dies, he must rise up to fight against the evil Empire.”
That’s better. There’s more emotion. You can keep tweaking it, but the idea is to give just enough to hook a prospect. Make them ask questions. Make them want to hear more.
Yes, you can use comparisons to illustrate your concept.
Star Wars meets Little House on the Prairie and Supernatural
Lord of the Rings meets Titanic
These kinds of pitches must be easily explained within 2 minutes. If you can’t do that, avoid them. You don’t want to create expectations for your story that aren’t met.
Practice your elevator pitch. I have one client whose pitch is “A bard, a wizard, and a college student from Kentucky must break an ancient curse,” but sometimes in her ads she just uses “A bard, a wizard and a college student from Kentucky.”
It’s effective because you want to know how those three people meet, what happens to them. It’s a story in itself. When your pitch is right, you’ll get positive feedback on it. But for background, when asked what her book was about she used to fumble and say, “It’s weird.”
Her pitch has improved a lot!
If you can’t come up with a great elevator pitch, it might be a sign that your story needs work or isn’t quite ready. Do the work to make your story great, and try again. You can overcome most story problems with a great developmental edit. Just recognize when you need help.
Need some feedback? Send me your pitches. I’ll give you a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Don’t be afraid to craft your pitch. Get started on it. It’s one of the best tools in your marketing arsenal.