How Is Your Self-Publisher Elevator Pitch??
Posted On: 2015-01-14
by: Bill Platt

14th, 2015
This is a concept that generally comes from the sales field, but it is something that can be very useful to you as a self-published book author.

Conceptually, an “elevator pitch” is the short description of what you do that you can give to someone in the time it takes to travel between floors on an elevator.

A stranger joins you on the elevator and asks a friendly question, “So what do you do?”

If you have never really thought about this before, it could be a tough answer to deliver.

Most folks reading this article would simply respond, “I am a self-published author.” A simple and easy to deliver answer, yes, but it will almost always prompt a new question that might be even harder to answer, “Oh. So what is your book about?”

Will you be able to tell someone about your book in about 30 seconds in a way that causes them to want to pick up a copy for themselves?

I will tell you why this is an important topic for you to consider, and it is not because someone might see you on an elevator and ask the questions.

I recently ran into this myself at the convenience store. The lady behind the cash register asked me why I was buying four two-liter bottles of soft drink. She asked if I was having a party.

I answered that since I work for myself, I tend to not want to leave the house very often. And since I try to buy all of my groceries once a month, I only go to the convenience store when I need a few items.

I walked right into it... “Oh, so what do you do?”

“I am a self-publisher. I work with book authors, helping them to be more successful with their book publishing endeavors.”

“Oh really. I write poetry. Can you publish my poetry for me?”

Back-peddle. I publish my own materials, mostly training for book authors and other kinds of writers. I don't publish poetry books for other authors.

So, I need to work on my own elevator pitch, while focusing my response for more clarity.

In your case, you might be publishing a different kind of product. Maybe you write and publish your own murder mysteries or romance stories.

“Oh, so what do you do?”

“I publish my own book series in the romance genre.”

“Oh nice. What books have you written? What are they about?”

The second question is why it is important for you to consider your elevator pitch.

Can you tell someone in a 30-second exchange about your book, in such a way that once someone has heard your pitch, they might want to buy your book?

If you are anything like me – very rarely leaving the house – you might be asking yourself how this information will apply to you.

This is a good question, which naturally leads me to the reason why we are having this discussion today. If you cannot tell someone why they would want to buy your book in a 30-second to 2-minute discussion with a stranger, how are you going to write a book description that sells your book?

When we are publishing books, our chosen book titles and book covers are of great importance to our ability to sell our books. But honestly, your title and cover can only capture the attention of future buyers. Neither have the ability to sell our books on their own, except in very rare circumstances such as with titles like “How To Win Friends and Influence People.”

Whatever genre we are writing, whether fiction or nonfiction, our book titles and book covers will attract an audience of potential buyers to our book, but it is the book description that will close the deal.

In December of 2014, I released a new training guide for fiction authors titled, “Fiction Starters.”

While this book description is a little longer at 104 words, it can be read in just under 30-seconds, and more important, it will help people make a decision to consider purchasing this guide.

“When you sit down to write, no matter how well you know your story, page one is perhaps the most challenging part of the story. Inside this 25-page PDF, you will be shown how to introduce your characters, your setting, your plot and your story in such a way that your book will capture and keep the attention of its audience.

Using examples from well-known fiction, you will also be shown how to establish a mood, introduce characters, use foreshadowing to increase interest, and most of all, just keep the reader from losing interest in your story at the very beginning of the story.”

At 104 words, it is far more than I would say about it to someone on an elevator, but it is certainly a strong-enough description to use it as a pitch to sell my guide.

That is the point right? You write books so that you can earn a living as a writer. And, you write book descriptions to help you sell your books.

After spending weeks or months writing a book, most book authors fail to give their book descriptions much time or concern. Most book descriptions are written in under 15 minutes, with little care or concern about whether the copy is written in such a way that someone will want to read the book being described.

The truth is that your book description is the most valuable real estate on your book listing. Depending on your book description, your book could sell a few copies per month or sell hundreds of copies per day.

This is why most book authors should spend just a little more time developing a solid book description.

If you were to hire a professional copywriter to write the sales copy for your book – your book description – the copywriter might spend a few days or a few weeks to write the words that will sell your book. It should be noted that a professional copywriter doesn't spend all of that time wrestling with the actual words that will be used, but rather, most of the time will be spent contemplating who is most likely to buy the book and how to write the copy in a way that will appeal to that audience.

Hiring a copywriter is obviously more expensive, but often times, the copywriter will be able to ensure a best seller as opposed to a book that just sells a few copies here and there. Most professional copywriters are literally worth every penny you pay them, and this is an option you might consider.

However, I am not telling you that you should hire a copywriter to write your book description. My point is that you should spend more than just a few minutes to write your book description.

And, your elevator pitch is part of this process. It is not important for you to aim for a 30-second sales pitch, but it is important for you to be as concise as you can be, while keeping in mind the necessity to present your book description in such a way that more people will be inclined to hit the buy button.

At the end of the day, we don't write books so we can pat ourselves on the back and tell our friends that we are published authors. Nope. We write books so that we can sell lots of copies and have the kind of lifestyle that makes life worth living.

Since our book descriptions are such a vital part of the selling process, do yourself a favor and invest the time and effort needed to create a book description that will close the deal for the people looking at your books. If your current book description isn't cutting it, write a new one. If you think you need help writing a good description, consider hiring a pro.

If you get it wrong, you might make the mistake of thinking the problem is the book you wrote. Get it right, and you will be able to reap the rewards for years to come.

Bill Platt has been working with writers and book authors since 2001, helping them to learn how to create better products and sell their written works. You can find his “Fiction Starters” guide and his other guides for fiction authors at his website here.