Your Pitch Matters
Your elevator pitch is a clever sentence or two summarizing your book. The name is derived from the average amount of time it takes for an elevator ride which is approximately 30-60 seconds. It’s the hook that concisely spells out the compelling, appealing, fresh concept you’ve devised that will draw agents and readers in. It’s a description of plot that’s whittled down to one or two sentences, it’s not about theme.
Though there are exceptions, your writing might be A#1, but if your hook stinks your book is most likely dead in the water. Most will not care to read further. So much is riding on it. Your pitch is like your golden goose. Nail it and an agent will ask for more. Create a limp, humdrum pitch and you may be chasing agents for a long time.
In my view, the pitch is more difficult to write than the book. It’s hard to come up with a one liner or two that captures a book’s essence, but that’s exactly what you must do. Find that one thing that describes your book in a nutshell. Practice. Write a few pitches, trim them, read them out loud, and pick the best one.
The beginning journey for your protagonist – what is the inciting incident?
The struggles your protagonist faces – what obstacles must the character overcome?
The result – what happens at the end of the journey?
Sprinkle in Detail. Your pitch needs to stand out. Use specific words to highlight the best parts of the inciting incident, obstacles, and results of the protagonist’s journey.
Include a sense of the world your characters dwell in. Whether that’s an alien hood, a castle atop a mountain, or a school for witches, readers want to know what they’re signing up for when they buy your book, and agents want a clear picture of setting.
Keep your pitch between 20-50 words and one to two sentences when part of your query letter. When pitching in person you have a bit of leeway, but it’s best to stay within a couple of hundred words.
Your book needs to fulfill the promises conveyed in your pitch. Every page, every chapter of your book must tie into your pitch. Agents and readers don’t like to be lured in then fooled.
Once you’ve nailed the pitch, the rest is smooth sailing. Everything that comes with authoring and promoting a book, circles back to the pitch. Moving forward, the job of a book cover is to express the essence of the pitch. Likewise, the blurb must communicate the essentials from the pitch. If you’re lucky enough to have the publishing gods shine down upon your novel or you take the leap into self-publishing, you’ll need reviews. Pick the ones that, you guessed it, best convey the aspects of the pitch.