Monday, February 23, 2015


For several years, we’ve done a presentation at conferences about how to write an ‘elevator pitch.’
What’s an elevator pitch? Imagine you are at a conference or convention or even in a random hotel or restaurant and you spot someone who might be interested in your latest work. This can apply to authors, but also musicians, artists, or anyone else who has work to sell.

You enter the elevator with that person, and you have about thirty seconds to interest them in your work. What do you say?

We teach a whole class on creating the perfect ‘hook’ in twenty-five words or fewer. The idea isn’t to tell the person the whole story, just to get their attention. For instance, the elevator pitch for our book, The Memory Keeper, is this:

Near the end of his sixty-ninth year, Acjachemen Indian, Tomás Romero, born in 1820 in San Juan Capistrano, recalls the events of his life.

It doesn’t begin to encompass the whole story, but it does include the name of the protagonist, his ethnic origin—which, in this case, is important—the setting, and the date. It also leaves the other person the opportunity to ask questions and engage in conversation.

The one for my book, Ghost Writer, is this:

Nan Burton loses everything: job, boyfriend, apartment, car. Then she inherits a cottage with resident ghost. In time, they each learn what really matters.

Again, it doesn’t tell the whole story. It gives the set-up (losing her job, etc.), the setting, and introduces the ghost. It even tells the outcome. Hopefully it leads the hearer to ask, “How?” This question can open dialogue. But be sure to have a business card handy so they can contact you at a later date.

We’ve written elevator pitches for all our books. We use them on the backs of the bookmarks we create as well as other marketing materials, including the business cards for each book.

Right now we’re working on the back cover blurb for Larry’s latest book, The McGregor Chronicles: Book 1 – Saving Mike.
Larry took a stab at it, but was having a problem. We finally worked together and came up with this:

Wake up, Matt, wake up,” an insistent voice repeats in my head.

From that moment, Matt McGregor’s life will never be the same. Upon awaking from cold sleep, Matt, co-captain of the space freighter, HC7 McGregor-15, discovers the ship abandoned and life support failing. Once he gets the systems started, he finds out his brother and co-captain, Mike, has been captured by space pirates. Matt immediately sets out to rescue Mike, aided by the disembodied voices. He is reluctantly paired with Federation Lieutenant Tracy Warren. How will they find Mike and save him? Can they work together, despite their differences? Will they survive the rescue attempt? And who are those voices in Matt’s head?

The purpose of a back cover blurb is to engage a potential reader. It must tell a bit more of the story so the person who is considering the book wants to read the rest. The blurb can also be used as the book description when listed online.

What do you think? Would you want to read this book based on the blurb? We’d like your input.


  1. Great post about something I must practice, thanks!

  2. Lots of questions in need of answers. Seems to me it should attract the curiosity of readers. Sometimes getting the right ingredients in a blurb and the right title are the hardest of writing jobs (aside from getting lots of readers).

    1. I agree. Your blurb has to be aimed at your audience, so they are different for each book. The title must relate to the story without misleading the reader. (One of my wiring partners learned this the hard way.)

  3. It's work, but the more you do it, the better you get at it.

    1. Yes, it can be difficult, but it's absolutely necessary!

  4. I have been meaning to write something like this on my website and you have given me an idea.

    1. Great! As I said above, we teach a workshop on the 'elevator pitch' at writers' conferences. Much more can be written about exactly how to craft the pitch and the back cover blurb. Let me know when you write it.