Creating an Irresistible Elevator Pitch
Imagine you are at a party. Your host introduces you to a literary agent as an author. The agent smiles and says: ‘So, what’s your book about?’
You remember you have to grab every opportunity to sell your book. You might never get this chance ever again. You’re nervous. Your lip quivers. Your book is great, but it’s not easy to explain. You’ve had a bit to drink. The agent looks at you quizzically. The story flies out of your head.
‘It’s a sort of spy thing,’ you mumble.
‘Oh. Well, good luck with it,’ she says, looking over your shoulder.
And you go home to cry on your bed. You’ll never interest anyone in your book. You will probably die alone and unloved. You are a failure.
Dry your tears. You will sell your book, because we’re going to find out what works.
We are going to learn the elevator pitch.
What’s an Elevator Pitch?
The setting didn’t have to be a party. It could have been a wedding. It could even have been an elevator. Anywhere an agent or publisher might devote a minute to you.
The elevator pitch is a summary of what it is about your book, and about you, that means your book will sell. It quickly and efficiently shows people that you’re a player, not a dreamer. The aim is to get them to read the book – to get on to the next level.
Our elevator pitch has three components:
Short Synopsis of Power
Part One of the elevator pitch is the Blockbuster Concept: a single short sentence describing what your book is about. A blockbuster concept is one whose themes and appeal are:
- Easily communicated
Imagine you have less than ten words to tell your friend why they should go out and buy your book: what will you say? That’s your blockbuster concept.
Can you explain the concept of your novel in less than ten words? If you can’t, find out the five ways to Discover Blockbuster Spy Novel Plot Ideas.
Part Two of the elevator pitch is the Killer Logline, one or two sentences that explain what the main characters and conflict in your novel are.
The logline explains the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW and WHY of your story. There’s an art to writing a logline and Writing a Killer Logline introduces the Killogator formula that makes generating it easier.
Short Synopsis of Power
Third, we need the sniper rifle.
Oh no, hang on, wrong article.
Part Three of the elevator pitch is the Short Synopsis of Power: the whole story told in a single page – five hundred words. You should memorise your synopsis so you can recite it to a friend, or an agent. Their response should be “Wow, sounds great!” If you’re struggling, try the tips in Writing a Short Synopsis of Power.
Sounds Good in Theory
I know I know… You’ve tried it before and it didn’t work. You couldn’t remember the logline. The synopsis came out all wrong. People looked bored or sceptical. You froze. We are back on the bed, crying.
Come on, we can do this. We’ve made big strides, just one last skill to upgrade and our elevator pitch will be irresistible.
How to Avoid Freezing
Practice. Pitch your book to everyone you meet. Most of them will be much easier to pitch to than a real agent or publisher, because it’s not their job to turn you down.
Note what people say. If it’s anything other than, ‘Awesome!’ then we have more work to do. Hone. Hone. Hone. Gain confidence. Get it memorised. And then on that glorious day when you bump into the perfect literary agent you’ll be ready and you’ll nail it.
OK, let’s rewind.
Back at the Party
‘So, what’s your book about?’ the agent asks.
‘Well, it’s a spy thriller, and the basic idea is…’
And you hit her with your Awesome High Concept.
‘Oh that’s interesting,’ she says. ‘We’re always looking for good thrillers. What actually happens?’
And you’re off. You jab her with the Killer Logline.
Now she knows she’s dealing with a pro. She might still say no, but you’ve given her the information she needs to decide if she’s interested.
And, if she’s still looking attentive, you follow up with the haymaker: the Short Synopsis of Power.
And then you ask. ‘Can I send it to you?’
‘Sure,’ she says. ‘I’ll have a look at it.’
When I was shortlisted for the Terry Pratchett Award I went to the prize-giving and tried my elevator pitch on several publishing industry veterans. And guess what, one of the pitches paid off and A Kill in the Morning was bought and published by Transworld. My elevator pitch worked!
Read the opening of A Kill in the Morning by clicking here or on the cover:
So, if you are ever in an elevator with a literary agent, remember: this technique works. Be confident, you are prepared. You can do it! And email me when you do. I’d love to hear about it.
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