An elevator speech is a brief, compelling summary of a book or manuscript that can be delivered in the time it takes to ride a proverbial elevator with someone. It should be concise, engaging, and leave a lasting impression. The goal is to capture the listener’s attention and leave them wanting to know more about the book. We often use an elevator speech when pitching to agents, publishers, potential readers, and whoever else may be stuck in the elevator with you.

Great, I instantly forget the English language the second the doors close behind me. The elevator turns into a dumbwaiter.” I can’t help much with elevator Alzheimer’s except to say your memory usually returns when you exit on the ground floor. You can always press the UP button again.

So, where can I get one of these speeches?” First, identify your book’s unique selling point; the main thing that sets your book apart from others in its genre. This could be an unusual premise, a fresh perspective on a common topic, or a unique writing style. Use your unique selling point to create a hook that will grab your listener’s attention and make them want to read the whole story. This could be a question, a surprising fact, or a bold statement.

If you’re having trouble defining exactly what your hook should be, you are welcome to start with my motto, “Different is better than better.” I go on to say how my books are not about a Jason Bourne / Jack Ryan / James Bond lookalike, blah blah blah. You can choose your own path after you hook your prey.

From here, summarize the plot, but keep it at a high level. “Oh geez, the dreaded summary. I’m screwed.” Okay, think of your summary another way. Focus on why you wrote the book in the first place; start with your “big idea”. A big idea is very simple; one sentence to be exact. Essentially, it’s what your book is about. Let’s take The Hollow Man, for example. “A U.S. Government field analyst, haunted by the ghost of a dead child, becomes obsessed with finding the terrorist who murdered her.”

That one sentence contains the DNA of an entire novel. And that DNA comes to life through the details created when we question our big idea. Who is this little girl? Why and how is she murdered? Why does the analyst care about her? What is her relationship with the terrorist? Can the analyst stop the terrorist before he kills again? And so on; these are the smaller ideas that break the big idea into bite-sized pieces. When you get to this level, you can pick out key events and conflicts that drive the story forward. Pull out the best 2 to 3 sentences.

To increase the cat’s curiosity for the listener, you might include the major themes or messages of your book. This could include topics such as love, loss, redemption, overcoming adversity, whatever. Speaking about your targeted audience can also help your cornered rat to visualize if your book is for them or not.

And finally, end your elevator speech with a call-to-action. “So, how many books can I set aside for you?” “I’m offering you the movie rights before Hollywood snaps it up.” “Here is my bank account for the book advance.” Or possibly, a more subtle approach, “buy my book and / or visit my website to learn more.

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​​Three Dutch Boys

​February 18, 2023     |     The Hollow Man Series, International Espionage

​​Elevator Speech

About Writing     |     The Hollow Man Series, International Espionage