Elevator Pitches: How to Create Them and When to Bust One Out
I’ve never been fortunate enough to share an elevator with a famous literary agent or editor. In fact, as far as I know, I’ve never ridden the elevator with any agent or editor, famous or not.
(I did once speak to a famous musician as he tried to get on the elevator with me – he was heading in the opposite direction from the one my elevator was pursuing – but that’s another story. Okay, that’s pretty much the whole story).
Popular opinion seems to say that I should have a little speech ready for just such an occasion – the run in with the agent, not the musician. These short but snappy sound bites for your work are called elevator pitches and every writer with a manuscript worth selling should have one.
I don’t. But I intend to work on that. Right now.
Some tips I’ve compiled for my elevator pitch are:
The pitch: The pitch itself should be a concise statement of your book and what it can offer readers that makes it interesting and unique. A tall order, for certain.
But think back to your synopsis and blurb writing. Many editors or agents want these types of short statements about your book in writing so consider this good practice for when you start submitting your manuscript. If you’ve already created a synopsis or blurb of your book then start there when you write your elevator pitch. Play around with the wording and order of the words. What looks great on paper may not sound smooth coming out of your mouth.
Make it your own: The internet is littered with elevator pitch templates. Don’t just grab one and stick your name in the place of “Jane Smith” and your manuscript title in the spot that says “Your Amazing Idea Here”. Your idea may very well be amazing but you won’t do justice to it by using someone else’s words. Particularly if you are a writer and need to inject your voice into your writing. So too should you make the pitch you create in your voice.
Keep it short: Well, duh. How long does it take you to ride the elevator? Not a heck of a lot of time. The basic rule is to keep your elevator pitch under 30 seconds in length. Don’t know how long yours will be? Practice it. Perform it a few times in front of a mirror and then a few times before an audience (even if it’s only a single person and that person is your mother). This will help to get the jitters out and also to accustom you to spitting that pitch out.
Try rehearsing your pitch in a public place. Try it out the next time you ride the elevator alone. Yes, it will give the security guards a laugh when they see you in their monitors talking to yourself, but it will also give you valuable practice.
Don’t forget your name! Remember that the first part of your brief elevator conversation starts with you introducing yourself.
Example: “Hi, my name is Nan Comargue and I’ve written a book I think might interest you…”
Then go into your pitch.
There’s no point making a pitch as the Anonymous Woman. Part of the purpose of the elevator pitch is to get your name and book out there. There’s a possibility that your target agent or editor won’t be interested in your pitch but may mention it to someone who would be.
Now to get cracking on my elevator pitch. Someone point me to the nearest tall building.