What’s An Elevator Pitch?
I never like to assume everyone understands/knows these terms. While it’s a common phrase in some circles, it’s not it others. So, for those who don’t know: Your elevator pitch (in this case) is you “selling” yourself & your book to a potential reader in a short time… as in under two minutes.
But How Do I Tell Them EVERY Great Thing About My Book In Such A Short Time?
You don’t. This is a common – and relatable – mistake of novice “pitchers.” We are so excited about our story, so stoked to talk about it… that we go overboard. We fail to see the polite but impatient look in their eye, or the way they start edging away.
Now, maybe you have hooked them, and they’re listening intently as you carry them through the whole story. That’s awesome, right? They’re totally into it. Yes! But then they don’t buy the book. Why? Well, you’ve already told them the story; they don’t need to read it.
So, how do you master the “just right” fit for prospective readers? For one, there is no one size fits all, I’m afraid. Now, I’ve sat alongside fellow authors who give the same exact pitch to every single person who walks by – word for word, inflection for inflection. I get it, it’s a formula the author feels comfortable & confident using. And even though it’s mind-numbing to sit next to and hear repeatedly, it’s always new to the potential reader. This may be a comfort zone for you.
In fact, we all use something of a formula, even if our “script” changes. I like to get a feel for who my potential reader is before pitching them… but that’s partly because I have twenty published books to choose from & I can often steer them toward one that is up their alley. Below are some tips to help you develop your pitch in an authentic way.
5 TIPS FR YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH:
- Know what to say. Think about your back cover matter/blurb. A great blurb is all about hooks. So is a great elevator pitch. Yes, they can be one and the same (or similar).
BAD: There’s these two girls. One is named Reyanne, she’s nine, and the other girl is named Shayne, she’s twelve. Shayne is kind of tall and she has light brown hair. Reyanne is skinny and blonde and she bites her nails and she’s real quiet. They live in a small town called Rocky Hill. The story starts with… and then they…. but in the end, they…
GOOD: Twelve-year-old Shayne woke up one hot August morning with only hazy memories of a traumatic event. Everyone she loves is gone except for her distant, sullen father, who’s as good as gone, too. Left to her own devices, Shayne must find a way to find what she’s lost. Nine-year-old Reyanne moves in across the street, seemingly from out of nowhere. She’s quiet and watchful and has a secret she can’t tell. She knows she’s meant to help Shayne, but how? Together, the two girls embark on an emotional journey filled with shocking revelations.
The pitch should leave the prospective reader wanting the answers to questions you’ve left them with. What was the traumatic event? Where the heck did this Reyanne girl come from? What’s her secret? What are the shocking revelations? BTW, the above is from my book Lost and Found Girls. *Fun Fact: I hate giving the pitch for this book. There’s a MASSIVE twist early in the book that I can’t tell because it’s a spoiler! So, I simply tell them exactly that.
- Practice your pitch & time yourself. Aim for about 30-60 seconds. You want your tone to match your story’s tone. Don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm!
- Have a hook. Before you can pitch your story to someone, you have to get them to notice you. Many authors, including myself, like to throw out an opener like, “So, what kind of books do you like to read?” (Obviously, say hello first) This is helpful in two ways. 1) Icebreaker! 2) You find out if your book is even a possible fit for them. If they read romance and you write horror… no fit. When this is the case, do two things – casually mention your signed book makes a great gift for your horror loving friends/family member, and direct them to your romance writing author friend. It’s just good karma, you know?
- Get Feedback. Yes, I hate doing it, too. But have a friend, partner, or relative give your pitch a listen and see what they think.
- Be confident! No one knows your story better than you. This is your baby & it’s okay to be proud and excited when you talk about it. Your energy impacts your results. Just because they don’t walk away with your book in hand, doesn’t mean it’s a lost sale.
*FYI: Having your book available as an eBook (and letting them know this!) is important for when they walk away without buying. I’ve seen an uptick in eBook sales after every event.
Elsa Kurt is a multi-genre, traditionally & self-published author of over twenty-five books. She is also a speaker and creator of Path To Authorship, coaching for new and aspiring authors. Thanks to her fabulous ADHD, she also designs several apparel lines, took up roller skating, and is pressuring her long-suffering husband for a fourth dog. For more tips, insights, and observations on the author’s life, visit Elsa HERE. For all of Elsa’s links, visit HERE.