If you have a project you plan to pitch to an editor or agent – either in person at a conference or convention, or through the mail in a more formal proposal – you need to come up with what some people call an elevator pitch. This is a short, snappy description of the project to describe your book verbally to anyone you meet who might be in the position to review your work for possible publication, to describe it to a possible research interviewee, or to use the ‘hook’ in a query or cover letter accompanying a submission to an agent or editor.
These are not mere one-liners that you throw at a moment’s notice. They need to be well-crafted sentences that are short and sweet, yet manage to convey the central idea, and the conflict that your main character(s) will attempt to resolve in the course of the book.
You may be amazed at just how time-consuming it can be to come up with the perfect elevator speech. But it’s well worth it.
Once you’ve got something that seems to represent your book (or story or article) test it out on fellow writers or anyone who has read the ms. Ask them whether it might entice them to read the work if they haven’t already done so, how well it expresses the central idea, if they have.
The blogging agent Jessica Faust of Bookends, LLC – a Literary Agency recently challenged her readers to come up with their own. Here you’ll find some of their one-liners, and also a few of her responses to some of them.