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Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Tiny Art of Elevator Pitches

Please welcome guest blogger Carrie Lofty

The blog post could also be called “How I Became the Pitch Witch.” I’m obsessed with pitches and how to teach them to other writers. Something about the challenge of narrowing an idea to its key elements feels like a puzzle.  My brain actually likes the process. Weird, I know, but everyone has skills! (Just don’t ask me to write a synopsis. Please.)

I started down this path in 2007 when I attended my first National conference. I was pitching (my first time!) to the editor who eventually bought my medieval debut, WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS.  For the pitch, she was running late. Other people were nervously doing the deed with their agent or editor. I could only watch the clock, supremely aware that there were no rain checks!  

To kill time, I fished out my business card and placed it on the editor’s side of the table. On it I had printed the elevator pitch that took me three days to craft. Three agonizing days. Here it is (and I’m typing this by heart—it’s that much a part of my psyche now!):  

Robin Hood’s estranged nephew rescues an alchemist who can clear him of murder, but she’s blind, obsessed with fire, and sister to the woman he helped kidnapped.

The editor arrived with four minutes to spare, read the pitch, and asked for the full. I’ve been a true believer ever since.

I’ll argue, however, that although I rather enjoy the puzzle—after years of trial and error—I am not actually a witch with paranormal gifts. The ability to create a catchy, enticing, lucid elevator pitch is humanly possible. Here are just three of the hundred-plus I’ve helped shape in the past.  

(By the way, I’m happy to say that all three pitches landed publishing contracts, with Berkley, Samhain, and Carina Press, respectively.)

When a sorceress learns of her family’s secret genocidal crimes, she must convince an unlikely ally to help punish them: the sexy human mercenary who has taken her hostage.

A prohibition officer battles a notorious crime boss, corrupt New York politicians, and his own desire to take down the fiery speakeasy owner who makes him forget he’s a cop.

A reporter reunites with her first lover—brother to the man who raped her—to protect her daughter from the killer who’s slaughtering his competition for the family fortune.  

So join me! I’ll make the process as painless as possible, and show you all the brilliant ways you can use these little treasures.  

In the meantime, pick up a copy of FLAWLESS [link: http://carrielofty.com/Flawless.html], my latest historical romance from Pocket. What’s it about? Glad you asked…

A suave viscount and his estranged wife, ordered to make a South African diamond business profitable or else forfeit her inheritance, battle old hurts and an ambitious entrepreneur to reveal the true heart of their marriage.  

For more about me, please visit my website. I’d rattle off my bio, but I’d rather you check out my books page! You can also find me on Twitter. See you soon!

The Tiny Art of Elevator Pitches: How to Craft Them & How to Use Them, presented by Carrie Lofty, runs from March 5, 2012 through March 25, 2012.

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