Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Elevator Pitch

Image courtesy of Antpkr at

Just a few thoughts on something you may not think you need, but then spend a day kicking yourself when the opportunity pops up and you’re caught by surprise.
You’ve plowed through 4 drafts, wrestled with two copy editors, and finally put the finishing touches on that book you started writing two years ago. So you think you’re done, right? I don’t think so.

Now you need a stop-them-in-their-tracks query, so it’s back to work. You spend the next month perfecting the hook and distilling down the plot into who the protagonist is, what their problem is, and who’s in their way. Done, right? Almost. One more thing to do, and I find this the most fun—the Elevator Pitch.

It can happen anywhere. At a book signing of a favorite author, a writing conference, the produce aisle at Whole Foods, etc. On occasion it even happens in an actual elevator. The odds of bumping into a literary agent aren’t as astronomical as you might think. So when it does happen you have less than a minute to answer a single question, and you better be ready. 

The question? “So, what’s your book about?”

A cold sweat comes over you. You start blurting out plot points, characters, why you write at night instead of during the day. You’ve said everything except what they really want to hear: a one or two sentence description that completely intrigues them. If you’re a Twitter pro, you’ve already got the skills; just apply them to your book. Think about it, if you can take an 80,000 word MS and condense it down to two eyebrow-raising sentences there’s a very good chance you’re going to impress the heck out of the person asking the question. Lets try it once more:

“So, what’s your book about?”