► The Pitch
The Elevator Pitch, or Elevator Speech
I can better understand your book if you give me your pitch—the Who, What, Why, Where, and When. If you don't think you can manage, that's alright. But if you plan to sell your book, you need to have this down. Perhaps we can brainstorm on how to do this. For now, here's some help.
How long are you in an elevator? Not long. Hence the term “pitch” or “elevator speech,” a concise and effective—but short—delivery of your book idea.
You’re at a writers conference. You meet an agent in the cafeteria line. Quick, seize the day. You have thirty to sixty seconds to pitch your idea. Just what are you going to say? Go!
In less than a minute, you’ll answer the Who, What, Where, and Why of your concept. It might go something like this:
(WHO) Hi! My name is Brenda, I’ve written ten books, including the best-selling Seattle Sweeetbriar series. May I pitch you my latest project, Lady Rebel?
(WHAT, WHEN, and WHERE) Thank you. It’s a biographical novel of 17-year-old Mary Drever, set in 1870 during the Riel Resistance to American espionage and Canadian expansion. Canada has just purchased the land, the US wants it, white supremacists arrive, and racial and religious tension erupt in Winnipeg’s close-knit community, forcing Mary to decide between her pursuit of equality and Louis Riel, a family friend—or her family and the English-speaking, Protestant population.
(WHY) We face the same decision, white privilege versus rising religious and racial tension. The question I explore is this: How did Mary, and how do we, navigate a moral course amidst pending violence?
Not only did I quickly tell the Who, What, Where, Why, and WHEN of my project, I did several other things as well.
- I gave my credentials
- I showed respect for an agent’s time
- I listed the external (minor) conflicts
- I named the internal (major) conflict for the main character, Mary
- I established reader interest by pointing out today’s relevance
- I identified an audience by articulating the story’s thesis
- All that in less than a minute.
There’s a second bennie to writing an elevator speech. It focuses and guides you as you write and rewrite. Everything must point to, and support, your thesis and remain within the parameters of your conflict and character development.