I climbed into the van at the airport and realized I was sitting next to an editor. When she discovered we were attending the same event, she asked, “What’s your book about?”
Ten minutes later I was still explaining and the editor sat glassy-eyed. Thankfully, I learned from my mistake, discovering three simple principles to a successful elevator pitch.
Writing for the Soul
At the Writing for the Soul conference, February 10 – 13, you’ll have the opportunity to pitch your work to magazine and book editors and leading agents. Register today!
You get on an elevator and just as the doors are closing, Editor Marvella, the one you’ve wanted to meet, gets on too. You have until the elevator doors open on her floor to sell your idea. This is your elevator pitch—a three- to four-sentence overview of your article or book idea.
In real life I rarely stumble over words or talk on and on. We often place editors on a different level than a potential friend who loves words, just like us. This makes us nervous. Be yourself, but with a touch of professionalism. Editors aren’t just buying manuscripts; they are creating relationships that will last long-term.
Before the conference, write a one-paragraph pitch.
For nonfiction, ask these questions:
- Who is my audience?
- What value does this book or article offer?
This was the pitch for my parenting book, which was published:
“How can you be a good mom if no one shows you how? In The Mom I Want to Be, I come alongside moms raised in dysfunction and show how to forgive, how to let go, how to leave parenting baggage in the past, and how to give their children a greater legacy than they received.
For fiction, share:
- The situation
- The conflict
This is my pitch for a current historical novel: “In 1964, psychotherapist Dr. Caroline Bergen counsels patient, Liza, who reveals that she lost her husband in Mauthausen concentration camp two decades earlier. As her story unfolds, it unlocks secrets in Caroline’s own family past. When she discovers that her beloved Grandpa is a former SS guard, will she ever trust again?”
Be ready to answer follow-up questions
We often attempt to answer all of the questions an editor might ask, or think to ask, long before they are hooked by the idea and value to their audience. Now that they are intrigued, be prepared to answer follow-up questions succinctly.
T. Suzanne Eller is a mentor with the Guild, a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker, and the author of five books and hundreds of articles. Visit her website www.tsuzanneeller.com.
With Writing for the Soul coming up in a few weeks, now is the time to practice your pitch. Post your pitch as a comment below and T. Suzanne Eller, or one of the CWG staff, will give you feedback.