Friday, March 11, 2011

Elevator Pitches that Probably Won't Sell Your Manuscript

Since conference season is fast approaching, here is a little advice for you. When an editor or agent asks you what your book is about these are probably NOT the answers you should give....

1. "Um... uh... well... my book is about... uh...."

2. "It's about an editor who is murdered after he rejects an author's manuscript about an editor who is murdered after he rejects an author's manuscript."

3. "You know, I'm glad you asked because God told me you were just the person to bring this book out."

4. Staring dumbstruck, mouth hanging open. "Well, uh, I figured if you liked the writing on the first page, I'd continue the story from there."

5.  "You know, for you to fully appreciate the brilliance of my manuscript we really need more than the thirty seconds it's going to take for us to get up to my floor. Do you have a couple hours free later today?"

6. "Before I tell you what my story is about, what is the largest advance you've ever given to a first-time author? And I hear that 8% is the going rate for royalties, these days. I'm just not going to be willing to settle for that. Can you offer me something better?"

7. "My story is 'Gone with the Wind' meets 'Star Wars' and I already have the actors picked out. I just know they'll want to star in the movie because the book is going to be SUCH a HUGE success!!! You are going to be so thankful that you published my story, one of these days!"

Alright, those are all the hideous pitches I've got. Care to share one of your own?
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  1. Well,

    Ask your agent "How can I be sure that you won't sell my story to someone else. I want a small bond, non - disclosure agreement and your credentials verified."

    with warm regards

  2. "My Granny really likes it."

    "It's the first book in a twenty book saga spanning five generations. Most of the really exciting stuff doesn't happen until book four, but you need to read this one first to understand the background of the characters."

    "It's a bit like Lord of the Rings." Although this one might actually work, if the fantasy section of my local bookshop is any indication.

  3. I went through the tangue-tungled part. Uh, well...uh... It's embarrassing!

  4. Fun list. I'm not so good with elevator pitches. I had to do an on the spot pitch at the last conference I went to and I managed to get the gist of the story out, but only because I'd rehearsed and rehearsed. It probably came off a little stiff but I suppose that's better than, which is what I usually do :)

  5. Good ones, AllMyPosts and Jessica. :)

    Cindy, I'm not so good with them either. But once you get one written, as you said, it is so important to practice saying it. Good advice. And I'm sure you sounded just fine.

  6. LOL -- Gone with the Wind meets Star Wars. I confess, I'm kinda intrigued! ;)

  7. "Can you look at my manuscript and tell me if it's okay?"

    "How soon can you make me a best-selling author?"

    "My book is science fiction, and most of the characters have realistic names like Kryzaphilix."

    ~ VT

  8. Carolyn, I have a book for you to read, then! ;)

    Victor, Kryzaphilix - at least it's pronounceable! :p

  9. "It's totally unlike anything else out there.

    "No,'s unlike anything that has ever been written, ever!

    "It's so new and unusual, it can't even be adequately described or classified. The way you'd typically do for purposes of marketing, say. Or shelf placement."

  10. It's so totally unique, most people won't even understand it!

  11. "I can't possibly describe my art in 30 seconds. Are you trying to reduce my novel to something insignificant, one more in your pile? Oh, you industry people are always ruining literature for us, true artists. You're just jealous that you didn't get to be a writer and have to work for us instead."

  12. LOL Joseph, I can hear the conversation now, "This book is going to require bookstores to come up with a whole new section, just for the placement of my book!" :D

    Maggie, chuckle. We artists don't need understanding, really. We just need people to talk about our work - that word of mouth marketing bit. Yeah.

    Gabriela, grin. The industry person rolls their eyes and looks for the nearest exit, at that point. :)