The elevator pitch is useful to a writer at just about any stage. If you really want to sell your book–work on your elevator pitch. If the book is published but you’re trying to interest readers,(sell your book) work on your elevator speech.
The difference is, I think it’s easier when you’re not published yet. The elevator speech for an unpubbed writer should be short–really short. And it should be fun and pique interest. Think of it as a tweet for Twitter. Okay that sounds hard if you got a complicated plot and hero/heroine. But it’s important. You’ll use the elevator speech at conferences where you are trying to interest editors and agents and you use it in your cover letter. So it’s a little intimidating. You don’t want to stammer here.
Trust me though. Perfecting an elevator pitch tends to boil down what you think is important about your novel. That can really help you when you’re sitting down to write too–almost like goal statements, it tends to concentrate things. I know one writer who keeps her elevator pitch right in front, taped to her monitor so she doesn’t veer off track.
If you’re wondering why it should be so important consider this scenario: You come in and sit down in front of an editor stammering, “Well, uh, my work in progress is about this guy who ah, he doesn’t like himself much and ah….” (Yeah, the editor is bored already,and if you weren’t sweating it so badly, you would be too.) Or you can say, “I’ve got a techno-vampire mystery where the hero is troubled by his vampirism, has a mortal love interest who isn’t aware of his problem and is also trying to track down some guy killing all the vampires.”
Not that that is a wonderful elevator speech, but it tells genre and sub-cross genres, gives a bit of the plot, tells the editor you know where you’re going. And you can actually spit it out if you do accidentally meet an editor in an elevator. .
By the time you’re published, people want longer elevator pitches. The typical one I’m asked for now is for radio, so it is usually around two minutes. You know, you can say a heck of a lot in two minutes. Or not enough. It takes practice.
Give it a try. Try it out on us! Give us your elevator speech.