How was everyone’s weekend? I hope it was fun and restful. Mine was long and tiring, but has a happy ending. Why? To make it short and sweet, while working on filling in the outline for Long Live, that I mentioned on Fridays Wrap-Up Scrivener recovered most of part three of my outline including the ending. Not sure how, but it just saved me a lot of time. Enough about that, on to this week’s Craft Post; The Elevator Pitch.

I’m going to assume that everyone who is reading this knows or has heard of an elevator pitch is. However, but I am going to explain it to be on the safe side. It is a one-sentence summary of your novel. What, that’s it? Yep! The name sounds so much more interesting then what it really is. You may be asking yourself why should I have this? Good question let me give you a situation.

You’re at a writer’s conference and you get into an elevator and two floors down the doors open and an agent and two editors get on. They see your badge for the conference and they ask you what is your book about?

“Well, my book is about a boy lives with his uncle and aunt who hate him, because his parents are dead. They treat him like a slave, giving him only the space below the stairs to sleep. His spoiled brat of a cousin treats him like he is nothing, has his parents in the palm of his hand…”

Ding! The elevators stops doors open and out they go not sure what you were trying to pitch. If you didn’t get it, I was pitching Harry Potter. Now, what if you had a proper elevator pitch, how could that go?

“What is your story about?” the agent asked.

“Its about an eleven year old orphan who learns he is a wizard when he is invited to attend a school for magic, where the dark wizard who killed his parents awaits to finish the job.”

“Sounds good. Here’s my card, send it to me,” Editor one says.

“Here’s my card, I want to hear more, let’s set up a time to talk in the next day or two here.”

Ding! You all get off the elevator the two editors walk off, but the agent lingers. “Here is my card, in case they want to purchase it. Hell, if they don’t still send it to me and I would love to see if I couldn’t shop it around.”

The elevator pitch is quick and easy way to get your premise of your story across. Most people will know instantly if they are interested in your story on that. If they ask for more, fill free to dive into more details. I will tell you this, if you have a really good elevator pitch, your agent, will use it to get editors to want to read your novel. The Editors will use it to get the people upstairs to approve the purchase, and Marketing will us it to try to get book stores to buy copies. Note this assumes your book is good, of course.

Awesome right? I thought so. The next big question I bet you have is how do you do this? Practice. It isn’t easy and will take time to master. Trying to condense an 80k novel into one sentence is hard. Google Elevator pitch and you will get lots of suggestions. Here are some tips from Randy Ingermanson, creator of the Snowflake Method. In his process the first thing you do is the Elevator pitch. You can find Randy Ingermanson article on the Snowflake Method Here!) Comments on each bullet are mine!

  • Shorter is better. Try for fewer than 15 words.
    • (My was 36 words, if you only take the first part and cut off at “finds out he is a wizard” it is only 13 words.)
  • No character names, please! Better to say “a handicapped trapeze artist” than “Jane Doe”.
    • (Names are important at this point, just the basic plot details are needed. Noticed how I left Harry’s name out and went with, about an eleven year old orphan? That is all they need, it tells a lot).
  • Tie together the big picture and the personal picture. Which character has the most to lose in this story? Now tell me what he or she wants to win.
    • (If you take the whole pitch, I am sure Harry wants to keep his life.)
  • Read the one-line blurbs on the New York Times Bestseller list to learn how to do this. Writing a one-sentence description is an art form.

How do you start? Like Randy, many authors say start with this and build you novel up from it. I don’t. My original idea and concept are never the same by the time the outline is finished and I start to write the book. That is why I wait until I am mostly through the first draft. I can tweak my one sentence instead of having to rewrite it. Try both and see what works for you.         Here are a few of mine one-sentence elevator pitches for a few projects:

        •        Seeing Through the Veil: “After three years, Kiana’s nightmarish visions return, and mark her as the key to releasing the most powerful angel, Lucifer, from his prison” 23 words
        •        Long Live: “Retire thieves find themselves in the games to crown a new king after being accused of killing the former queen.” 20 words
        •        Marks of Eilira: “A fourteen year old boy learns his father is from another world, and he may just be the warrior king who can save them from the Seven Lords” 28 words

There are a few of my pitches, and they don’t meet the 15 words Randy Suggests. However, I could easily get either one of those three out in a short elevator ride. I would love to hear your thoughts below in the comment section, as well some of your pitches. Check back on Friday for my Writing Weekly Wrap-Up.



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