I find myself in helpless burble mode: “Well it’s er… it’s a book, and er… it’s about this guy and this thing happens to him… well, it doesn’t so much happen to him, it’s more that it happens when he’s there. It’s good. At least, I like it anyway. Ooh, and there’s a giraffe…’
The poor unfortunate soul in front of me, who more than likely just asked out of politeness, stands there with a fixed grin on his/her face, staring over my shoulder in search of an excuse to get away.
Then I learned about elevator pitches, those one-sentence book summaries which we all need for query letters and chance encounters with potential agents.
My GSHW friend, Gary Frank, has an excellent one for his novel, Forever Will You Suffer. Ask him what it’s about and he’ll say, “It’s a three hundred year love story gone horribly wrong.”
Over time, I came up with my own one-line summaries. Now when someone asks me ‘What’s it about?’ I’m completely relaxed:
“It’s about a boy who meets a talking cat that only he can hear.” (Fur-Face)
“It’s about a shy scientist who gets the brain patterns of a bad-tempered CIA agent stuck in his head.” (Waking up Jack Thunder)
“It’s about a medieval James Bond-type, set in a world where humans are just one of many species to evolve into ‘humanoid’ form.” (A Union of Snakes)
Of course, those only work for my own books. Ask me about someone else’s novel and all bets are off - though if you wait long enough as I attempt to describe it, I’m pretty sure I’ll throw in a giraffe somewhere.
How about you?
What’s your elevator pitch?