Sunday, November 13, 2011
The Elevator Pitch and Your Manuscript
The marketing arena’s idea of the pitch is a one sentence calling card – you’re unique selling proposal or proposition.
The idea behind the elevator pitch is to imagine that you get on an elevator and surprisingly you’re there with a potential client, or in the case of writing for children or writing in general, a publisher or agent. You are given just the time for the elevator ride, which was approximated at 3 minutes, to pitch your story. That’s the elevator pitch.
It may also happen that the time you have to pitch your manuscript may be under a minute. Suppose you’re at a conference and happen to get on the elevator at the end of the day with a frazzled publisher or agent. You want that very short span of pitching time to be as effective as you can make it, without annoying or further frazzling your target. It may be the only opportunity you’ll have for a direct, although very brief, uninterrupted pitch.
The one sentence pitch, also known as a logline, takes time, effort, and a lot of practice. You need to condense your entire manuscript into one sentence. Within that sentence you need to harness the soul of your story in a simple, concise, and hooking pitch.
The general writing consensus is to do your best and create one sentence that tells what your story is about. Once you have it nailed, expand it into a few more, adding only the most important aspects of the story. This is excellent practice for tight writing.
This way you’ll have two different versions of a micro pitch. It’s important to always be prepared – you never know when or where you may come upon an unsuspecting publisher, agent, or editor . . . maybe you’ll have a few seconds, maybe you’ll have 3 minutes.
Here is an example of a one sentence pitch from RockWayPress.com:
Two brothers and their female cousin decide to track down a serial killer themselves, not realizing that one of them may be the very killer they seek.
Here’s another one from the blog at Buried in the Slush Pile:
The Emerald Tablet -- In this midgrade science fiction novel, a telepathic boy discovers that he is not really human but a whole different species and that he must save a sunken continent hidden under the ocean.
And, here’s my own one sentence, 28 word pitch for my children’s fantasy chapter book. The 99 word version of my pitch hooked a contract with a publisher:
Children 7-10 love fantasy and magic and Walking Through Walls has just that; twelve-year-old Wang decides he’ll be rich and powerful if he can become a mystical Eternal.
Obviously, if you have a scheduled pitch you will need to adhere to the publisher or agent’s rules. You may be able to provide a pitch with 100-200 words. But, it’s a good idea to have that one sentence pitch on hand for that you-never-know moment.
Karen Cioffi is an author, ghostwriter, and editor. For more on writing and marketing visit http://karencioffiwritingandmarketing.com and sign up for her FREE newsletter, A Writer’s World. You’ll get TWO free e-books on writing and marketing in the process.