The idea of an elevator pitch is that it is a super-condensed description of your book; short enough that you could deliver it in the time it takes to ride in an elevator (or ‘lift’, here in the UK).
Elevator pitches are useful for when you meet agents, publishers, or editors. They’re also handy when you’re talking to potential readers, and trying to sell your books.
You want to get your pitch down to just a couple of sentences. It needs to be snappy, stripped back to the essentials, and, most importantly, it needs a great hook that will leave people wanting to know more.
Start with the plot catalyst. Ever heard the advice “get in as late as possible, and out as early as possible”? This should count for everything you write, but even moreso for your elevator pitch. Start with the crunch point, not a load of backstory or exposition.
Introduce your main character, but leave out their name. Your character’s name isn’t what people connect with. They want to know who your character is; their personality, their strengths and flaws. They want to know that they can relate to your character. That’s the part that matters.
Mention the main conflict, leave out subplots. You need to get the story across in just a few sentences, so there’s no room for subplots, or side stories. Stick with the essentials of the main plot.
You can mention the genre. Books are classified by genre for ease of selling. Readers can head to the genre they love, and be pretty confident of finding a book for them. This is a great thing to include in your elevator pitch; showing that you understand the book market, and your book’s place in it.
You can describe the feel of your novel, eg: fast-paced, dark, atmospheric. This acts both as a hook, and a way to show that you understand your book. You can also show your author voice; the style of your writing.
You can liken it to other stories, eg: Terminator meets Toy Story, but be specific. Don’t choose wishy-washy titles with wide, universal appeal. Drive down into sub-genres, and show that you know who your book is for; who your ideal reader is.
Leave them hooked and wanting to know more. Every word of your elevator pitch should be working hard to draw your audience in, to get them excited. Let your elevator pitch leave them desperate to say “tell me more…”
Why not have a go? Leave an elevator pitch for your book in the comments.