This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
I know I’m not the only aspiring author who breaks out in a cold sweat at the thought of reducing a ninety thousand word masterpiece into a few carefully constructed sentences. But just how useful is it to be able to have that pithy pitch at your finger tips?
I was at a writing event not so long ago, when I mentioned my ebook (Millie) to a fellow aspiring author. The aspiring author asked me what the book was about. Then they told me to pitch it to them like I would to an agent. You know, for fun. I froze. I’d never submitted Millie and the American Wedding. I’d never tried to boil it down to it’s bare bones and into one or two sentences. In the end I bottled it; I handed her a business card (which has a picture of the Millie cover) and I told her that the cover could tell her what type of book Millie was.
Although it was a terrifying experience, and it made me feel just a tad stupid – there were agents and publishers in that room too. It could, just as easily, have been one of them asking for the elevator pitch! I would have ruined the first impression with such a potentially important contact. Possibly the one who could change my writing career forever.
I’ve been thinking about that experience a lot since, and I’ve realised that it isn’t just fellow authors or publishing professionals that I struggle to pitch my books to. Often friends and family will ask me what I’m writing now. What happens is I waffle out a vague description, falling over words and using lots of ‘erms’ and ‘likes’. Then the person asking will glaze over in confusion as they try to keep up with the idea. ‘Don’t worry, I’m much better at writing than I am at speaking!’ I always say, embarrassed about what they think of my communication skills.
It seems so silly that I get shy and nervous when I talk about my own work. I’m a writer; I’m supposed to be good with words. I don’t have a problem summing up the book I’ve just read in a paragraph for a review, yet when it’s my own work it just seems so difficult.
I decided to make it my mission to create elevator pitches for my novels. I practised first by whittling my latest Don’t Tell the Groom down to two sentences. I came up with: Bride-to-be Penny loses £10,000 of her wedding fund on internet bingo. She is forced to plan a princess wedding on a shoestring budget, without letting the groom find out her secret. The two sentences sum up the basic premise of the book, without my having to fear that I’ll lose the person I’m telling.
So, now I have my elevator pitch, I’ve just got to learn it! I’m also going to practise writing them for books I’m currently working on and then, hopefully, I’ll never be caught out again.
Am I the only one terrified of elevator pitches? Has anyone actually elevator pitched to someone influential and been successful? Tell us your elevator pitch!