The Elevator Pitch — What it is and why you need one.

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Pretend you’re at a conference and someone says: “Tell me about your book?” You should be prepared for this… they’ll probably ask just as you shove a last bite of buttered bagel into your mouth. This is not a time to stumble around, mumbling some disjointed mish-mash while recounting a collection of characters and scenes that quickly begin to make no sense because you’re forgetting to mention the most important parts.

Their blank look will put you on the spot — you’ll be caught in their crosshairs. Here’s the thing… they really do want to know what your book is about but you can’t tell them because you are now suffering from pitch panic.

The best way to avoid pitch panic is to prepare a 30 -45 second elevator pitch in advance. (The time it takes to ride an elevator up a few floors. Get it?)

Pitching is an absolute requirement for writing TV. It’s basically the opposite of oxygen. If you want to write for Hollywood you inhale air and exhale pitches. Everyone does it — including waiters and valets.
From my experience, publishing is exactly the same, only usually someone is wearing better shoes. (I’m hoping that’s you.) Standard pitch shorthand is the TMT (the this meets that) scenario which uses something familar to set up your concept, which should be a new and completely different hybrid story.
“It’s David Copperfield meets World War Z”
“It’s Jane Austen set in an inner city high school.”

You can lead with the TMT and then get specific about your concept. Or you can pitch your concept first and let the TMT be the cherry on top. Don’t use character names in your pitch unless they are “high concept” and help define your story. (An example of a high concept character name might be: Harley Quinn, the lovable DC Comics character.)

Your elevator pitch should convey the following information: genre, a profile of your protag, what she wants, what stands in her way, what she needs or is willing to do to get what she wants… and a great tagline.

Pull that info together as briefly as possible and finish it off with your TMT and you will have a valuable elevator pitch.

About Sheryl Scarborough

For MONEY I have written: TV series, cartoons, comic books, graphic novels, magazine articles, Business Plans, Direct Music Marketing letters (as Mariah Carey, MC Hammer and others), Corporate Newsletters, Mens Style (online) Magazine (as managing editor),screenplays (well, okay so not so much about the money there) and Restaurant Reviews (for free food!) Now… I’m writing for love and what I LOVE are young adult mystery novels.

Film to Fiction

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