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Writing and Publishing

Creating Your Elevator Pitch: Don’t Leave This to Chance

I hate asking new authors, “What’s your book about?”

They panic; they stammer; they ramble. Five minutes later, I’m still not sure. Telltale signs that communication is not occurring are phrases like, “Then in chapter two…” or “Oh, I forgot to mention…” or “I haven’t worked this part out yet.” When my eyes glaze over, they become flustered and utter the killer phrase: “It starts out kind of slow but really picks up around page 65.”

In recent posts, we talked about writing back cover copy and promotional copy for our books. A related topic, which I should have addressed first, is creating an elevator pitch.

An elevator pitch is a concise and intriguing synopsis of our book. Imagine getting in an elevator and an agent or publisher asks, “What’s your book about?” Before the doors open, we need to have finished answering the question in such a compelling manner that the person wants to know more.

An elevator pitch must be short. Every word must count. We may only have twenty seconds, likely less. Our elevator pitches need to:

  • Grab their attention
  • Make our book stand out
  • Cause them to want more
  • Be memorable

It is usually only a couple sentences.

Prior to getting a book deal, our elevator pitch is the most important thing we will write. Yes, we must write it. Then we must memorize it. Finally we must deliver it flawlessly and with passion. The future of our book depends on it.

Here are elevator pitches for two memoir-style books of mine:

  • “My wife and I visited a different Christian church every Sunday for a year. 52 Churches shares what we learned on our journey.”
  • God, I Don’t Want to Go to Church shares my lifelong struggle with church attendance, while offering hope to the disenfranchised. The subtitle is “Seven Churches that Pushed Me Away and the God Who Wouldn’t Let Go.”

Now I just need to work on memorization and delivery.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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