Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Elevator Pitch

When you tell people you have a book coming out, they tend to ask you what it is about. Then I have to explain the people I made up and the problems I forced on them while trying not to sound like a lunatic.

This is something I have avoided for some time. Although my critique group is intimate with the story, and one or two of my more forgiving and indulgent friends who let me talk out story problems have a vague idea, everyone else has no idea what this book is about. My own mother did not know until last week. When I finally told her, she asked me why I wrote about that, which I immediately took as criticism.

So I am working on my elevator pitch. This is one or two lines that sums up the story and gives the hook. It has to be well rehearsed and quick, in case an agent from the Andrea Brown Literary Agency walks onto your elevator and you have two floors to make her drop to her knees and beg to represent you.

"Divided Moon" sold before I got the chance to ride many elevators in New York City. Not that I would really stalk the elevators used by editors and agents. The Andrea Brown Literary Agency doesn't have an office in New York City. Now I have to write my elevator pitch to explain to my friends and family what I have been doing in obscurity the last five years.

Here is what I have:
"Divided Moon" is about arranged marriage in America. The main character is the 15-year-old daughter of Hmong immigrants. What her parents think is normal is not even close for a teenage girl who grew up in America.

Yeah, that needs some tweaking.

If my editor happens to be reading this, I promise to work on those other things too, right after I nail this elevator pitch. I still have to tell my brother about the book.


  1. How funny. I just had to come up with my Elevator Speech for a Feingold Table at a conference I did a few weeks ago. I tried writing it and that didn't work. I had to practice in front of a mirror. Nailed it in about 3 minutes after that!!!!

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  3. Talking in the mirror is a great idea! I need to try that, but maybe while Nolan is in school. He may think his mom is insane right now. He seems overly worried.

  4. Great topic, Jill! I've been working on my elevator hook for 'Stand, Boy' too. (and just in case someone from Andrea Brown is reading this, Stand, Boy is a fabulous mid-grade historical fiction novel about a boy who must rely on his remarkable artistic talent to escape a community that can't see past his physical disability.) Here is my husband's idea for my elevator hook: "Lame main character learns to draw." he thinks this is terribly funny. I don't.

    1. Yours is better, Kerry. LOL at your husband's hook.

    2. Sorry Kerry, but your husband's hook is hillarious! :)

  5. Great topic Jill. I read a book a few years back about the Hmong culture, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Imagine my surprise when I later learned that one of my co-workers was Hmong.

    Considering how little most people know about the Hmong people, I can't imagine how you could really explain that in an elevator pitch.

    I'd like to read this when it's available. :)

    Literateparakeet from AW

  6. I own that book. It is the most lauded novel I have heard of the Hmong culture.

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