#PubTip—The Elevator Speech for Authors

You never know where you’ll sell your next book.

At your kid’s football game, during an impromptu chat on Facebook, or while standing in line at the bakery—potential readers are everywhere. Making a memorable impression, and sealing the deal, is easy when you’re equipped with an elevator speech.

An elevator speech—or elevator pitch—is a quick synopsis of your background that will leave a memorable impression on a future reader. It’s always good to have a few ready in case you are asked some important questions. 

What do you write? 

Sure, you’re thrilled several of the women in yoga class have expressed the slimmest of interest. Now isn’t the time for a monologue on the sequence of dreams that drove you to write your masterpiece. If you drone on, your audience will roll up their yoga mats and slip out the door.

Remember—you have the time of an elevator ride to answer this question. 

Here’s mine: “I write contemporary fiction—a blend of romance and mystery. My debut, Treasure Me, is more comedic, like the movie Steel Magnolias, but my second release, The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge, is a darker, more suspenseful read.”

Notice the comparison to a familiar movie. It’s a subtle way of saying, “You loved the movie. You’ll be glad you bought my book.” Genre also matters. Some readers prefer clean romances, for example, or love horror novels. If your work draws from more than one genre, all the better. You’ve increased the chances of making a sale.

What is your book about?  

Here, you will want to think “back cover copy” or “product description” on your Amazon page. Introduce the characters (first sentence), present the story problem (second sentence) and finish with a hook (third sentence).

No, you needn’t memorize a three-sentence synopsis. Your story pitch works best when tailored to appeal to a particular listener or group. If I’m discussing The Road She Left Behind with a single parent, I lead with the plot’s main character—an aunt who assumes a parenting role for her nephew. If I’m chatting with a younger person, I discuss the storyline of a young man finding his purpose in life. And, no, I don’t give spoilers. I want to give each listener enough information to encourage a book purchase.

Why do you write? 

We always hope someone will ask this question, and if they do, you need a response! This is your chance to build credibility for your writing career.  The volume of poorly written eBooks streaming onto Amazon and other sites is no state secret. Separate your work from the dreck by touting your successes—awards won, glowing reviews, high sales, or the earlier profession that prepared you for your writing career. Whenever I have a captive audience, I tend to mention awards I have won and note a plug by USA Today citing my debut novel as among the best of the Indies. 

If your book has racked up twenty 5-star reviews on Goodreads or received high praise from a well-known author, by all means, tell your new-found fan! This isn’t the time to feel squeamish about boastful behavior. Avid readers are on a quest to find The Next Great Read. Which is your book, if you have the courage to tell them.

Now get on that elevator and shine!


  1. Jo Anne Simson on November 27, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    Thanks! Short and sweet. I’ll work on two or three of these to have on hand.

    • Christine Nolfi on December 3, 2019 at 10:03 am

      Good luck!

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