During my senior year of college, in order to graduate with Honors, I was required to complete a senior thesis. Rather than go the usual English route and complete a paper, I decided that I would finally write the novel that had been growing in my mind for a long time. I was all ready to dive in, but, before I had really started any work, my thesis adviser made me stop and write an elevator pitch.
Now, I am sure you have heard of an elevator pitch before but maybe not in the context of writing. An elevator pitch is generally a short, concise piece designed to explain and sell your work. It includes a synopsis as well as its purpose and target audience. In academic terms, it can be compared to an abstract.
Most people do not think about this aspect until after the work is complete and they are thinking about submitting the piece for publication. However, it can be extremely useful to write your elevator pitch near the beginning of your work, because it helps you to narrow your focus and clarify your goals. This can sometimes be difficult when you are working on a creative piece and you are not even sure what your focus is yet, but I still recommend giving it a shot. Below are my tips for helping you write your elevator pitch.
- Be concise.
The most important thing to remember about an elevator pitch is that it needs to be short which means every word counts. You should be able to describe your work, its purpose, and its target audience in half a page, single-spaced. If it is too long, first look at what you can cut. Think about the most important pieces of your work and try breaking it down into bullet points. It is okay if you have to leave things out.
- Think of your work like a movie trailer.
When I first started working on my elevator pitch, for whatever reason, I was having issues just getting words on the page. When I tried to think about condensing my plot, my mind would go blank. My thesis adviser told me that in the beginning it is all right to start out being too cheesy or dramatic. He suggested I start my pitch with the phrase “In a world…” and it worked. It was melodramatic and ridiculous, but, hey, I had words on the page. So, be ridiculous. You will fix it in the editing stage.
- Send it to other people.
Send it to anyone who is willing to read it, but make sure you do not just send it to people for editing. Send it to the book lovers in your life and ask them if they would pick up your book in the store or the library.
- Study examples.
By this, I mean study published works. If you are writing academic work, read as many abstracts as you can. If you are writing creative work, read the backs and inside covers of your favorite novels. Already knowing the plot will help you to examine what the synopsis chooses to highlight.
Bottom line: your elevator pitch is important. Having a well-written, concise elevator pitch will definitely be helpful when you are writing query letters, pitching editors, or even just trying to explain to the people in your life what you are writing.