Here’s a scary thought for you: after months of research, writing, editing and finally submitting your brain-child novel, guess how agents are going to determine whether or not your work is worth their while?

The ONE. LINE. Pitch.

Suppose you actually hook an agent (and I hope you do!). The job’s only partly done. Guess how he/she is going to turn around and try to actually sell your novel to a publisher? Once again.

Your Pitch.

But the process doesn’t end there! Publishers then have the task of selling your book to retailers, and guess how they do that? You guessed it! They include a short pitch in a catalogue. That’s it. That’s all the folks responsible for the future success of your “baby” have to go by.

Need I even say, being “pitch perfect” is a pretty crucial business. It’s not easy either. How often have you been in the in the situation in which some well-meaning person asks the perfectly natural question, “So what’s your book about?” and you want to slap them silly and say, “You try boiling down months of toil, sweat & tears into a snappy sentence or two!!!”

But folks, that’s exactly what we’ve got to do if we want to send our work into the world!

So enough scariness. How do you write the killer pitch?

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First, a few pointers to bear in mind:
  • An Elevator Pitch should be deliverable in about 20 seconds (the time it takes for an awkward silence to form between floors in the elevator… at least I assume that’s where the name comes from…?)
  • Your one-line Pitch should capture the heart and soul of your novel. Go for essence. Don’t spell out every detail. (This means you want to focus on the main character &  his/her plight – the thing that catches the reader’s interest & emotions)
  • When it comes to your cover letter to agents, you must include a one-line pitch & a slightly longer elevator pitch (blurb). Not sure what’s the difference? Think films trailors: the one-liner is your teaser trailer (one image & one line that grabs interest).  The blurb is the plot summary on the back of the DVD box.

**For practice writing both, check out Graeme Shimmin’s cool, apparently fool-proof formula for Loglines & Elevator Pitches.

The ultimate advice on crafting that perfect pitch comes down to one word: Practice.

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All you need is a blank few pieces of paper and a chunk of time. Start with your blurb – think who, what, when, how, why. Then boil it down, and boil it down again until you can extract the essence of your book in a beautiful one-liner.

Not only will you be one leap closer to selling your book, you won’t  feel the need to run screaming into the night the next time someone innocently asks you “So, what’s your book about?” And that can only be a good thing!