Here’s Why You Need an Elevator Pitch — and How to Create One
Delivering an effective elevator pitch is a key skill when it comes to selling your book concept, whether that’s to an agent, editor, or reader. Here’s what you need to know.
What is an elevator pitch?
An “elevator pitch” is, at its core, a brief, concise, and convincing sales pitch for your book. You need an elevator pitch at the ready in conversations with agents, editors, publishers, public relations teams, and interviewers. You also need it for your potential readers. You employ an elevator pitch the moment someone asks you, “What’s your book about?” It is a key resource in your self-promotion toolbox.
It’s called an elevator pitch because it’s meant to outline what your book is about, what makes it unique, and why you’re the person to write it — all in the amount of time it takes to travel 3 stories with someone in an elevator. In other words, your elevator pitch needs to be — from beginning to end — about 30 seconds long.
Who are elevator pitches for?
Elevator pitches are for deciders; that is, any person who’ll decide whether to greenlight, invest in, promote, or purchase your book. Your elevator pitch isn’t something you come up with on the fly; you want it to be polished and ready to hand out almost like a verbal business card.
Why only 30 seconds? I have a lot to say about my book!
Attention spans are short. Industry professionals have limited amount of time. And finally, if you can’t communicate what your book is about in a concise way, you might also have a manuscript that meanders. Your own idea about what your book is about may be unclear. That’s why crafting a 30-second pitch is also helpful to you, as the writer, to crystallize the core theme and message of your book.
Your listener, who is weighing whether or not to invest in your book, wants a concise, impactful, and interesting overview. You must make a compelling case at the outset.
What’s in an elevator pitch?
Your elevator pitch needs to include the core components listed below. Do this exercise: Imagine you’re preparing for a meeting with a movie producer who’s considering making your idea into a movie, but you only have five minutes to make your case. What would you say to convince him or her? Spend time jotting down what you’d say about your idea, keeping your answers to three sentences or fewer.
– What is your name and role?
– What is your book synopsis or concept?
– Why does it matter?
– What makes you the qualified person to write it?
– What sets your book apart from others on the market?
A Sample: The Long Version
Your name and role: “My name is Bob Jones. I’m the senior pastor at First Church, where I’ve served for 20 years. In my spare time, I’ve counseled a lot of pastors through burnout and even started a blog about it.”
Your book synopsis: “My book, One Last Chance, takes a gritty look at the reality of high burnout among pastors and why it’s really happening. With actual stories from some of the biggest pastors you know and some you’ve never heard of, I coach readers through the practical, gut-wrenching journey out of burnout.”
Why it matters: “Burnout is the most serious problem pastors are facing in ministry today, with nearly 70% saying they question whether it’s worth it to keep going. This is a timely topic that speaks to a broad range of pastors in large and small churches. It is a problem that’s not going away.”
Your platform or credentials: “I’ve been senior pastor for 20 years and in that time I’ve counseled dozens of pastors through burnout. I publish a weekly blog and have a strong social media following. I’ve been interviewed about my experiences multiple times in several media outlets.”
What sets it apart: “Currently there are no other books on the market that delve so deeply or personally into this topic. And with the current global situation, it’s a need most — if not all — pastors can relate to.”
Time: 57 seconds
Once you have your statements written, read the entire pitch aloud and time yourself. As you read, you’ll find the bumpy, awkward spots. You’ll hear redundancies and misplaced points. Most of all, you’ll hear that it’s too long. So, edit what you’ve written, cutting anything extra, finding more concise wording, and combining points. This refined version will become your elevator version.
A Sample: The Elevator Version
Your name and role: “My name is Bob Jones.”
Your book synopsis: “My book, One Last Chance, is a gritty look at the high burnout rate among pastors. Loaded with never-before-told stories from notable pastors, my book equips pastors to find health in ministry.”
Why it matters: “70% of pastors today wonder whether they should leave ministry. Coping with serious burnout is a critical, timely topic for pastors everywhere.”
Your platform or credentials: “I’ve been senior pastor for decades and counseled dozens of pastors suffering burnout. I have a strong social media following, a blog, and am interviewed as a subject matter expert regularly.”
What sets it apart: “There are no books on the market that offer such raw, behind-the-scenes stories about burnout. Few pastors find the practical, ministry-changing help they need; my book changes that.”
Time: 30 seconds
Re-read and refine your elevator pitch until you can give it in 30 seconds without sounding rushed or breathless. Then, commit it to memory.
And there you have it: an effective, complete elevator pitch that’s on the tip of your tongue whenever you need to effectively pitch your book concept.