One of the hardest parts of selling a new story (to a reader, an agent or a publisher) is coming up with what us marketing geeks call ‘The Elevator Pitch”. It’s also called a log line. It’s your whole story (80k+ words) boiled down into one sentence. Two at most. And coming up with a pitch that works is a journey into hell.
“A young boy wizard comes of age” might be pretty generic, but isn’t too shabby as an elevator pitch.
The words you string together need to tell your story in one breath. They ideally need to suggest conflict. And they definitely need to get the person reading them excited.
We’ve all sat through meetings or watched insanely detailed pitches where you know the whole thing is going nowhere. If there’s no conflict in your elevator pitch, odds are there won’t be any in your story either. Your reader/agent/publisher will lose interest quickly and probably not bother to pick it up.
I’ve just completed the Cornerstones ‘Edit your novel like a professional‘ course. Eighteen weeks shared with some brilliant writers – and each of us struggled when asked to condense our work into a 500 word synopsis, let alone a 20 word pitch. Writing a story is one thing – but explaining it in such a way that you get someone excited and keep them reading…now that’s another!
Pitch in secret
Try pitching your own work at home. Keep it short and snappy; no context, characters or backstory. Just the basic premise of your story: what happens, who am I writing about and why should they care? If you can create an engaging pitch like this (and of course, back it up with a great book) then chances are when you’re querying agents later on you’ll have their attention long enough to tell them more. Writing well makes all the difference when selling yourself as much as your work.
- Know your audience and what they want from you
- Keep it simple and engaging
- Give away the best parts of your story
So write me something catchy. What’s your book about?