Let’s start with the basics. What is an elevator pitch? Simply put, it’s a brief summary of your project — a clear, concise description meant to entice the listener that can be delivered in the time it takes you to ride an elevator. Which would be, roughly, thirty seconds.
“Ah, so, a blurb!” you may be saying. And you know what? Kind of? But not really. Let me explain.
Blurbs are meant to be used as marketing material to let your readers know what they’re getting themselves into. They are stamped onto the back panel of your book and toggled beneath your Goodreads header.
Elevator pitches, however, are used to catch the interest of other industry professionals. Chiefly literary agents. Yes, my friends, we’re going to talk about writing hooks today! What fun! (And also, oh how terrifying).
Let’s start from the top.
It is next to impossible to condense your plot into a few punchy sentences. Especially if you still have that “freshly-finished-writing” brain fog. It’s easy to devolve into the near-childlike ramble: “it’s about this thing that happened, and then another thing did a thing. So then, the thing from earlier did another thing.”
Trust me, I get it. I don’t even want to confess how many times the eyes of a loved one glazed over because I just couldn’t get to the point.
Don’t worry. That’s what we’re here to learn to do.
Think about the most important things to know.
As we know from having written a book, we need to have these elements:
- A beginning (conflict)
- An obstacle
- The plot
You have them, right? Perfect. Now, let’s have a little brain exercise — take these points and try to condense them into one sentence. Or, even better, just a few words!
I know! Impossible, right? But I promise, well worth it.
Here, let me show my work! I’m pretending I’m writing an elevator pitch for Don’t Say “I Do” (available on Kindle Unlimited).
- A beginning (conflict): Autumn’s wedding
- Obstacle: Lily realizing her feelings
- Plot: Writing the Speech
- Characters: Lily and Autumn
Now that we have all of the small pieces, we can focus on weaving it all together to make our elevator pitch. Think: “In a land, far, far away…”
Here are a few examples of what that might look like:
It’s the night before Autumn’s wedding, and Lily is faced with a decision: write her forgotten Maid of Honor speech or confess how she feels. It’s her last chance to tell her best friend the secret she’s been harboring for years.
Lily, Autumn’s Maid of Honor and best friend, hasn’t written her Maid of Honor speech and it’s the night before the wedding. As the clock ticks down the hours, she’s faced with a choice: write the speech and see her best friend marry someone else, or tell her the truth about how she feels.
Lily has been hiding how she felt about her best friend, Autumn, their entire lives, but the night before her wedding has come and Lily still hasn’t written her Maid of Honor speech. When the words won’t come, she’s forced to make the hardest decision of her life: confess to Autumn that she forgot about the speech, or tell her that she didn’t write it because she couldn’t bring herself to.
Remember, less is more!
Agents are incredibly busy people who have to comb through more emails a day than you and I could even fathom. If you want to get their attention, you have to do it in a manner of seconds. Keep it short, keep it tidy. Most importantly, keep it good. Show your perspective agent that you can write.
I’ve been trying to write something short and snappy, but I can’t! What do I do?
I know you’re not going to like this, but… keep working on it. Practice makes perfect, after all! The trick here is to make it less intimidating. The only way to do this is to challenge yourself with it until it comes naturally to you!
Remember, you got this! The hardest part was writing the book. This is a cakewalk!
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