Answering the question, “What is your book about?” can be hard to do. You feel put on the spot, at a loss for words, or maybe when you do try to answer the question, it doesn’t sound as interesting and engaging as you know your book to be.
There is a simple way to fix this and the answer is to prepare your response in advance and then practice it until it sounds natural when you say it. That way when asked what your book is about, you’ll answer instinctively in exactly the right way to get the person you’re talking to interested in reading your book.
That one-sentence version is called your elevator-pitch. It’s the same one-sentence that you would presumably give to an agent or editor to get them interested in your book. You could do this in person, say, in an elevator, or like most people you can use it in your Query Letter. You can also use it to tell readers what your book is about so they want to read it.
So how do you come up with that crucial 1-2 sentence pitch? Well, I start with the blurb, or what I like to call the BOB, the Back Of the Book.
This is assuming you’ve already written this. If you haven’t, you might want to check out our last post: How to write a good blurb.
But say your blurb goes like this:
Destiny is not matter of chance, it is a matter of choice.
Fated to be a Priestess of Saegard, Meredith dreams of leading a normal life with a family and a home of her own, something she’ll never have if she swears her life to the Order. A chance encounter with a stranger in the sacred Celestial Chamber sends her previously well-ordered life into a tailspin of adventure and mayhem as she is blamed for the theft of a legendary artifact. Now a fugitive, Meredith must join forces with Captain Reginald Lawrence, the son of the man who initially brought her to the Temple, and his enigmatic business partner, the charming yet at times infuriating, Grey Rhodes, to find the Celestial Bowl and clear her name. From the cosmopolitan capital of Saegard to the coast of Ismera and back again, Meredith’s journey will reveal the true nature of her past, present, and ultimately, her future.
By the way, this blurb is from Uncharted which is set to launch April 17th. For more information on Uncharted, click here.
In order to make your pitch, you want to distill this down as much as possible, preferably to one or two sentences at maximum. You don’t have to do this in one step though. You could take your blurb, trim it down to size, and then adjust the results or you can list the crucial aspects of your story and then try to form your pitch from there.
Let’s try it, shall we? You want to make sure to include your main character(s), your setting, your inciting incident, and a hint of your theme.
For Uncharted, that’s:
Characters: A priestess, a Captain and his business partner
Setting: A fantasy realm, a navy ship
Inciting incident: becoming a Fugitive and stowing away
Theme: Destiny is choice
The Pitch: A fugitive priestess alters her destiny by stowing away on a ship belonging to a naval officer and an ex con man.
I added the ‘ex con man’ part to give more of a hook, but essentially I’ve covered all the crucial bits of information and arranged them into an enticing pitch. I hope this makes you want to read Uncharted when it comes out on April 17th!
What about you? What’s your book about? Let me know in the comments section below!