Elevating Your Elevator Pitch

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by Janice Thompson

You’re wrapping up the best book you’ve ever written. It’s all you can think about. You can’t wait to go to that next conference to meet with an editor or agent. However, you realize that your face time will be brief. How will you pitch your novel in a way that will garner the attention it deserves? Simple. Start with a great elevator pitch.

The term “elevator pitch” refers to a summary that can be delivered in the length of time it would take to go from floor to floor in an elevator. Imagine you’ve stepped into an elevator with the ideal editor for your project. You’re on the first floor of the hotel. He presses the button for the tenth floor. In the length of time you travel from the first floor to the tenth floor, (approximately thirty seconds), you can present him with a summary of your book that’s sure to wow him.

How, you ask? Well, let’s peek into the world of movie summaries to find out. Think of your favorite recent film. Something drew you to the theater to see it, right? More often than not, it’s the movie’s elevator pitch (plot summary or preview). Something in the movie’s promo materials reached out and grabbed you–the plot, the characterization, the premise, the theme. You were hooked. And that’s exactly what you want with an editor or agent. In order to hook them, you’ve got to start thinking of your pitch as your book’s promo piece.

Many writers–even great ones–struggle to condense their story into a brief paragraph. How do you go about it in a way that does justice to the story? Use the Triple S Method: Study succinct summaries. Sign onto a site like www.moviefone.com and choose a movie, any movie. Next, click the word “Plot” and a new page will open. On that page you will find a paragraph–usually four or five sentences in length–that shares the movie’s storyline. This is the blurb meant to woo you–the viewer–to the theater. Study it. You will see that it contains:

a). A great hook (a grabber)

b). A tight synopsis (clear and to the point)

c). A high concept (something that sets it apart from every other movie out there)

d). A relatable moment (something compelling that speaks to people)

All of this is done in about five or six clear, understandable sentences.

Now, imagine your book is a movie. You’ve been given the task of writing a one paragraph description for moviefone that will appeal to viewers. What will you write? It’s got to have a great hook, but also has to tell enough of the story to make the viewer sit up and take notice.

That’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it? To make the editor sit up and take notice of your book idea? He’s looking for writers with high concept ideas who are personable, polished and prepared. So, hook him. Say it in as few words as possible, and most of all. . .make him care.

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