Hold The Elevator: How To Pitch Your Writing Like a Pro

Now Brewing: Archer Farms Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans. Okay I know it’s not exactly coffee but these are really a great mix of the coffee taste I love and the chocolate that I love to hate. I found these at Target and I like to have them around for a mid-morning crash when I’m craving more caffeine .

Because I am in the field of public relations it’s rare that I go a week without hearing about perfecting my elevator pitch. Although the infamous “elevator pitch” is designed for networking and does work wonders in the almost all fields, especially public relations where networking is the key to building your personal brand; something I’ve learned about writing creatively is the importance of perfecting your elevator pitch for your work.

What I mean by that is, chances are, if you’ve ever told ANYONE that you are writing, whether it be a short story , poem, essay, or novel; one of their first questions was “What is it about?”

This is why crafting a perfect elevator pitch for your piece of writing is invaluable.

I’ve met people who, if they aren’t interested in the first sentence of a book, won’t continue reading. So chances are, those same people wouldn’t read your writing if they weren’t hooked on what you could tell them about the project in 30 seconds. The elevator pitch is the equivalent in the creative writing sector as the “attention-getter” is in the world of high school English classes.

Being able to break your story down into one solid idea that you can proudly repeat when you’re asked the famous “what’s it about?” is key to being able to produce a quality piece of fiction. If you can’t tell your friends what your story is about and what makes it awesome in a few sentences; chances are if you try to pitch your story to an actual agent, they will get bored and toss your query to the side. Brevity, as I’ve learned in my journalism courses, is golden.

So how do you do it?

How do you craft the perfect elevator pitch for your story that tells your friends, your grandma, and your colleague at the office water cooler how AWESOME your upcoming piece of writing is?

The elevator pitch essentially reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately 30 seconds to 2 minutes. It’s based on the hypothetical scenario of an accidental meeting with someone important in the elevator. If the conversation inside the elevator in those few seconds is interesting and value adding, the conversation will continue after the elevator ride or end in exchange of business card (or in our case, an interested potential reader).

Through my background in public relations I have learned 3 key factors that make an elevator pitch a memorable one for me:

The first is remembering that what is important about an elevator pitch is that it should tell the listener why you, or for us, our writing is special or exciting or breaks the mold in some way. The key of perfecting a memorable pitch in public relations is showing the listener why you are an outstanding individual in the profession. This can range from an aspect of your past that has lent itself to your success in the field to even something random and funny about you that will allow the person you’re meeting to remember you after the conversation is over.

How this translates to your writing elevator pitch: WOW your listener. One common factor that is true for every writer is that there was something in them that inspired them to write THIS piece. Something drove them to choose this story or that character. Use that inspiration of why YOU chose this particular story to come up with a sentence on how your writing is a new, exciting idea or brings fresh ideas to a tried-and-true plot.

The next important piece of a memorable elevator pitch in public relations is to tell the listener what it is that you do. If the conversation topic, or in our case the piece of fiction, can show the listener what makes what you do unique, chances are, it will be memorable.

How this translates to your writing elevator pitch: Work Your Plot. This is where your plot, or what the heck your story or poem or essay is about, is super important. Being able to break down what happens in the piece of writing into one sentence that will hook potential readers is a writer’s secret weapon. Think back to that 10th grade English class where your teacher taught you the importance of the attention-getter in your papers. Grab your listeners’ attention with a simple few sentences that tell them what happens in your book, but leaving enough to question that they will want to read it to find out. While this is easier said than done, a simple way to get started thinking about this portion of the elevator pitch is to think of starting it like the beginning of a joke. For example: A guy walks into a bar…punchline. You can start setting up your plot in a similar way to get you started and then perfect it from that point—or even leave it in the joke format, if that can work for your piece of writing. Just remember to keep it to a few sentences that tell the listener what your piece of writing is about but still leaves them wanting more.

Finally, the aspect about creating a memorable elevator pitch that I find most important is to think about what would stand out to you if you heard it in an elevator—this means telling the listener how what you do can benefit the them. If I met someone in an elevator who told me that they could increase the amount of caffeine in a coffee cup by 10% I would be inclined to find out how because it interests me. It is important to think about what interests you when you are crafting your pitch because it asks the question, if you met someone who could do what you do, would you want to work with them?

How this translates to your writing elevator pitch: Tell The Story Readers Love. This last aspect is the most important part of the writing elevator pitch in my opinion because it makes you think about your story in a different way than the basic what is it about and why is it good directions. If you think about all of your favorite books, and what made them your favorites, there’s a good chance that at least one of the reasons that the book was your favorite can be reflected in your own writing. Think about your story in terms of how it relates to books that you typically enjoy or see at the top of the New York Times Bestsellers’ List; how is your writing similar, how is it different? By looking at your writing this way, you are able to pull a potential reader in by appealing to their interests not just in the way of having your plot sound exciting. If your short story attracts a certain type of reader (like die-hard Sherlock Holmes or Twilight fans) you can craft your pitch to reflect that. If your novel would make a perfect summer beach read, your pitch can tell readers that. If you can make your listener see that your writing is exactly what they’ve been looking for—chances are, a potential agent might think the same way.

Above all else, the elevator pitch is nice to have, if even for yourself. Even if you never speak it aloud, knowing exactly what makes your writing special and how it can be valuable to your readers is important to the overall quality of the piece. After all, writing is for the readers.

For more tips and information on crafting elevator pitches for your writing visit:

Pitching Your Book Part 1: The Elevator Pitch

Scoring in the Elevator: All I know About Writing a Good Two Sentence Pitch

All for now, I have an elevator to catch!

Level 4 Please,

Kathryn E. Weast

2 comments

  1. […] If your summary doesn’t hook the agent—it won’t hook readers. As I mentioned in my post, “Hold The Elevator: How To Pitch Your Writing Like a Pro” I mention how this can be done by grabbing your listeners’ attention with a simple few […]

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