There is one thing writers at any point in their career need to have prepared: an elevator pitch.
Whether you’re looking for an agent, on submission, or a multi-published author, you need to be able to quickly and concisely tell other people what your book is about. And you need to prepare so that you don’t find yourself hemming and hawing the next time someone asks that golden question:
So, what’s your book about?
Anytime someone asks you this question, that is an epic opportunity. They are literally giving you the ability to pitch your book without any awkwardness or resentment. Take it!
The sole purpose of an elevator pitch is to make the listener want to know more. Don’t lose sight of that.
Here are ten tips to help you prepare your elevator pitch:
1) Take about 30 to 45 seconds to give the initial pitch. If they ask for more info or specific questions, that’s the time to expand on your book, but don’t talk for several minutes. (Reminder: your sole goal in an elevator pitch is to make the listener want to know more.)
2) Focus on story, not themes, emotional journeys, or background info. If you are pitching a published book to a reader, do not discuss your publishing path. If they want to know that, they will ask. Focus on your book.
3) Remember that you are a real person speaking to another real person. You should sound natural and conversational, not like you’re memorizing something you’ve written.
4) You must include: genre, conflict, stakes. Most writers leave out the genre, but unless it’s already obviously apparent some other way, start off with something like “Dragons are People, Too is a young adult urban fantasy about…”
5) Don’t use any cliched phrases. Ex: “will never be the same,” “more than he bargained for,” “falls into the wrong hands,” “to make matters worse,” “will change everything.” When you have such few precious words, don’t use ones that can describe any hundreds of other books.
6) Be passionate. You can’t expect others to be excited about your book if you are not.
7) Don’t editorialize your book. Ex: “It’s a fast-paced thrill ride..” SHOW that it’s fast-paced without saying it.
8) Don’t discount yourself. Do not, under any circumstances, say things like “oh, this probably sucks, but…” or “it’s not that interesting..” Whatever you say, people are going to believe you, so if you tell them it sucks, they’re already not that interested.
9) Consider comp titles and use them if they work really well for your book. For some books, comp titles don’t work. Make an attempt, but be willing to drop this strategy if it’s not working for your book.
10) Practice ad nauseum. Practice on your friends and family until they could give you the pitch themselves. When you get so comfortable with your pitch that you can mumble it flawlessly the second you wake up, that’s when you’re not going to freeze or mess up when asked the golden question by someone you truly want to impress.