Bloomsbury’s 247 tales has got me thinking about the ‘elevator pitch’. When I run workshops on ‘How to Get Published’ I try to encourage writers to have a crack at drafting their own personal ‘elevator pitch’ (s’ok, I cringe too at the blatant American-ness of it. I also really dislike it when people make little quotation marks in the air with their fingers, but that’s a story for another time. Oh, and I have a weird issue with napkins – in fact I have the makings of quite a long list!).
But the basic idea is that a person (in this case the author) has only the time it takes for a lift to leave the ground floor and reach, say, the 6th floor, to summarise and ‘sell’ themselves and their book. It’s a great little trick to have at your disposal because there’s every chance you’ll be put on the spot when on the phone to a literary agent or while out shamelessly networking. And, similarly, it works further down the publishing chain as well – an agent might have hardly any time to convince a publisher to look at a submission, or likewise a commissioning editor pitching a new book idea at an acquisitions meeting.
I often find writers seem a bit nervous about composing their elevator pitch, but I’d always encourage having a go. It can really be of benefit, even in the early stages of writing a book. It’ll help you not only to get a clear idea of your theme, plot and characterisation (and to find out if there are any holes which need filling!), but also because it could be part of your submission in the form of a suggested back-cover blurb.
One of the main aims of a synopsis is to whet the reader’s appetite and have them wanting to know what happens next – do this in 247 words (or fewer) and you’re on to a good start.
Warm wishes, Jo
Find out more
Book a place on the Writers’ and Artists’ ‘How to Get Published’ masterclass workshop at the Hay Festival
Read this month’s winning short story on 247 tales: When I Grow Up by Tomas, age 8
See how Bloomsbury author Julia Green took up the 247-word writing challenge