By Nancy Hellekson
When someone asks you about your book, you need to be ready. You certainly want to tell them about your book, but you don’t want to bore them. That’s where the elevator speech comes in.
Think of yourself in an elevator with one other person. They look at you fumbling with a lot of papers and ask “what are you doing?”. Here is your opportunity to tell them that you’re an author and have just published a book that they should buy. Of course, you can’t say that; you need to give them a short reply before the elevator door opens and they leave. This reply is called an elevator speech. It’s usually around 20 words with a hook at the end.
Jane R. Wood, author of five books, says:
“When someone asks me what I do for a living, I tell them, “I make history come alive for kids.” (That’s my hook.)
They will almost always ask, “How do you do that?”
I then give them my elevator speech, “I weave history and science into fun, fiction stories for young readers ages 8-14.”
I then tell them I accomplish that by using historical places as the settings for my stories, including St. Augustine, Amelia Island, Savannah, Charleston, and Boston. That often leads to further discussion about some of those locations. It’s all about engaging them.
Having a hook and then a short, easy-to-say description of what my books are about is the best way to interest someone without boring them with too many details. And it usually works!”
How to write your own elevator speech.
First, remember that it should be short. Cut out phrases such as “The book is about”. And above all make it interesting.
For a Fiction book, you should include four main points:
1- identify the main character
2- Character’s goal
3 – Obstacle(s) in the way.
4- Open the door to further discussion.
Below are the current Fiction pitches from the NY Times:
For Non-fiction books, you’ll need to add what the reader will learn.
Once you’ve honed your pitch, it’s time to practice it.
1 – Say it out loud until it flows from your mouth.
2 – Say it to your friends or co-workers and see their reactions. Do they want to know more?
3 – Say it out loud until it becomes automatic.
Now you’re ready for you next elevator ride!