Elevator Pitches: How to Talk About Your Book

WritersdontcryOne of these days, you’re going to have to talk about your book. It’s true! No matter if you’re submitting it to an editor or agent, trapped in an elevator with another writer, or just chatting with someone’s book-junkie grandma over cocktails--unless you never talk to anyone about it ever, it will come up. So, it’s in your best interest to figure out how to talk about your book. Briefly, because you can always talk about it more later, once they’ve expressed interest.

This is means coming up with the dreaded elevator pitch—the fastball version of your book so short and compelling you can sell someone on it between floors. Now, the elevator pitch has a lot of mystique built up around it. Most authors hate it—I mean, seriously? If you could capture the whole essence of your book in a mere paragraph of prose, why would you have written a whole book? Your story is complicated! It has layers! It is inexpressible in a measly paragraph. (Hence: book.) But you are a writer. You can do this. All you have to do is write one paragraph that gives readers a quick but strong impression of your book.

The best part is? Just the process of figuring out that elevator pitch will make it way easier to talk about in the future, with or without your script. So, to those ends, here are a few tips for creating an elevator pitch of your own.

X Meets Y
It’s like Highlander meets Black Swan . . . in space!

One popular method for creating an elevator pitch uses the framework “my book is X meets Y,” where X and Y are popular books or movies—sometimes with an additional qualifying factor, like “in space.” Now, some people loathe this method, since when done poorly, it tells you exactly nothing about the book (though it can be downright hysterical). But it has to be said: when done well, it is an awesome shortcut to describing your book.

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Comments (4)

I love this post! It is very helpful for those of us wading into the sea of publishing for the first time! Thank you
Susan J. Morris!

Posted by: Rene Diane Aube | Tuesday December 4, 2012 at 3:29 AM

I loved your comments. When I am excited and talk about my book(s) I seem able to just come up with that quick and enthused description. That is often the best one. Next time you try this write it down and see if those fast couple of sentences don't sum it up. Play on your own enthusiasm as often that says it best.

You are right to say separate all the personal biography and lengthy introductions.

Thank you for your advise. We all need it. And regardless of what we know or think we know---we need to hear it again, from a fresh point of view. jacqueline gillam fairchild

Posted by: Jacqueling Gillam Fairchild | Tuesday December 4, 2012 at 9:32 AM

Susan, this is a terrific summary with fun examples. Thanks for thinking through and sharing this approach to elevator pitches!

Blessings to you!

Posted by: Rick Barry | Tuesday December 4, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Rene: Thank you so much! Glad you found it helpful.

Jacqueling: Thank you! And yes, I totally agree that enthusiasm is one of the best description aids.

Rick: Thank you! :) I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

Posted by: Susan J. Morris | Monday December 24, 2012 at 5:20 PM

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