The Elevator Pitch is an important step in building the foundation for your nonfiction book. Your Elevator pitch—or your logline (what they call it in the movie biz) is the 1-2 sentences you want to glide easily off your tongue when someone asks you what your book is about.
If you do the hard work now, you will save yourself a lot of heartache and embarrassment and the uhh … my book is kind of about this … and it’s about ... Trust me, I know all about fumbling when it comes to describing your book.
An elevator ride is about the amount of time you have to capture someone’s attention. If you stammer and hesitate, that elevator door is going to open and your audience is going to walk out … you will have missed your chance to tell them about your book.
Let's talk about WHY it’s important to have an elevator pitch.
Once you decide to write a book—you should start talking about it. You want to create a buzz. You want people to get interested. You want to see what resonates with people—and what doesn't.
And once you start talking about your book, people are going to ask you about it!
It looks like this:
"Hey Suzette, great to see you! It’s been too long! What are you up to?"
"Actually, I’ve been working on a book."
"A book? That’s amazing. What’s it about?"
Here's where you insert that catchy and clear pitch or logline.
Note, I am focusing on pitches for self-help, personal and business development books, known as prescriptive nonfiction. If you are writing a plot-driven narrative, you’d use a slightly different formula, but the same principles apply.
Let's play with that idea. Othelia has a point she wants to make; everyone can learn to love math. But saying: "I’m writing a book that proves that everyone can learn to love math." Is only partway to an effective elevator pitch. Let’s dig deeper.
So that’s her reader/her audience. I’d actually urge her to get more granular —homeschooling preschoolers? Elementary age kids? Middle school? High School?
Let's layer on to the pitch: "I’m writing a book for parents homeschooling elementary-age kids that proves that everyone can learn to love math."
Getting closer, but still not there.
Let’s layer on that step:
"Othelia, what’s your book about?"
"I’m writing a book that helps parents homeschooling their elementary-age kids understand math fundamentals better themselves so they can teach their kids to love math." Getting closer!
Let’s layer on the takeaway: "I’m writing a math book for parents homeschooling elementary-age kids that takes away the stress and frustration of teaching and results in children loving math."
So let’s complete Othelia’s elevator pitch/logline.
"Hey Othelia, that’s so great you are writing a book! What’s it about?"
"I’m writing a math workbook for parents homeschooling elementary-age kids that takes away the stress and frustration of teaching and results in kids loving math."
Can you imagine how many parents would be dying to buy that book? Can you see how clear it is: we know the format, who it is for, what it will do, and what the outcome will be.
That’s where we all want to land! Othelia, you can thank me later!
Developing your elevator pitch will help you get clarity on your book idea—and it has practical ramifications. You’ll be ready for your next Zoom happy hour or chance encounter at the supermarket. Working through this exercise will result in something you can actually use!