On Twitter, @suefortin1 was asking for tips on writing one-sentence blurbs for her novel, and I suggested that Twitter was a really good tool for producing these. When you only have 140 characters to get your ideas across, and when the messages are read whilst zipping down a tweetstream, you have to be both brief and catchy.
These are also called ‘elevator pitches’ because they’re the sort of thing you can tell to an agent or an editor, or indeed to any old half-interested stranger, whilst in an elevator between one floor and another. They’re extremely useful for selling your book—not only to a publisher, but to the book buyers once it’s published. They’re also useful at parties, when being interviewed, or basically any time you want to tell someone what your book is about without boring them to death.
I volunteered to tweet some elevator pitches for my three latest books, all of them 140 characters or less long. Here they are:
A woman tries to escape tragedy in her real life by pretending to be in a Regency romance.
(The Summer of Living Dangerously)
An erotic science fiction romantic comedy about a woman falling in love with a big blue robot.
(Love Machine, by Electra Shepherd. I used these exact words in my query letter.)
Dear Thing follows a couple as they try to have a baby, and focuses on their best friend’s decision to carry one for them as a surrogate.
(This is taken from The Bookseller article about my next book.)
They’re all quite different, but they sum up the book’s premise, outline the main conflict, and give some idea of the genre and the tone. One of them starts with the main character; one starts with the book’s genre; one starts with the title. So there’s no formula. It’s whatever works.
Some other writers have taken up the challenge and tweeted theirs as well. Here’s one for Veronica Henry’s (@veronica_henry) The Long Weekend:
Eight people check into a Cornish seaside hotel for a long weekend,bringing their emotional baggage with them.
Lovely word play on that one, and emphasis on setting, emotion, and the fact that there are multiple, possibly connected, storylines.
This one is from Catherine Miller (@katylittlelady):
When there are more than miles keeping Grace and Adam apart, will they ever go the distance?
Catherine tells me that this is for a women’s fiction novel, but to me it reads like a straight romance, probably on the lighter side of the spectrum. I love the play on words, though. What do you think?
This one is for Sophie Hannah’s (@sophiehannaCB1) latest thriller in progress, and is quite different in style as well as genre:
Plane delay. Hotel overnight. Share room frantic stranger whose friend’s charged with murder. Who? Only man you’ve ever loved.
This is from Shelley Harris’s (@shelleywriter) debut novel, Jubilee, and combines subject with period and also major symbol:
Iconic photo of street party taken on Silver Jubilee day – but only British Asian boy at its centre knows truth behind picture.
If you take up the challenge yourself, please post what you’ve done in the comments. No more than 140 characters please (including spaces and punctuation)! I’ll try to add some more from Twitter onto this post. The discussion is hashtagged #elevatorpitch