The Elevator Speech

At a party last weekend I realized I had a problem. Friends I hadn’t seen in a long time were interested in my novel and I stumbled over how to talk about it. How could I possibly encapsulate all that I’ve worked on and all that I’m planning into a conversation piece that wouldn’t make eyes glaze over and kill that nascent interest? I’d been parceling everything out through narrative revelation and realized I myself didn’t have a holistic description for it.

I really had no excuse for this. I’ve been doing project summaries and carrying them around in my theoretical pocket for a dozen years in my job. I speak of course of…

The elevator speech! (Saw that coming, didn’t you? My teaser titles may need some work.)

An elevator speech is a short and concise blurb about your project that you have ready for whenever a prospective resource shows interest in it. When you end up on the elevator with the VP of Technology and she asks how your big development effort is going you don’t have to think. You tell her exactly what the status is and where it needs help, and you do it in less time than it takes for the elevator to get to her floor.

I generally have three versions ready at any time for projects I’m working and I think the format will work most excellently for writing projects. I’ll take one of my books through this as an example (and because I need to do this for all of the books I have in process). These are all for Unseen, the third volume in Ages of the Seed and the book I’m currently NaNo’ing.

The one liner

A simple statement that encapsulates. It answers the question “What is it”? This is what you give to casual inquiries to judge whether deeper conversation is warranted.

Unseen is the introductory novelette for the steampunk/noir age of my novel series.

That’s a lot of information with few words. I’ve conveyed the title and genre as well as giving a reference for length. I’ve also related that there are more stories in this vein as well as additional novels. I’ve given them multiple topics they can ask follow-up questions on depending on their interest. If they’re not interested in any of that a longer description is just wasted words.

The Descriptor

This adds status to the statement and fleshes out the description. How is the project doing? Where is it in the process? Where do you need help?

The story follows a young man and the voices in his head as they navigate through an Earth where physics has gone wrong. I’m about a quarter complete and am planning on getting the draft out to early readers for feedback by mid December.

I’ve engaged the story (compared to the book) and communicated progress, completion estimate, current state and that there is an opportunity for their assistance.

The Decimator

The waxing poetic marketing blurb. This is stuff suitable for the back cover and the Amazon description. This tends to work better written, unless you can talk like that guy who narrates all of the movie trailers. “IN a World…” You know the guy.

200 years have passed since the fall of mankind. Life is cheap, brutal and short for the remnants of humanity as they eke out a desperate existence in the deadly Earth their ancestors created. The Cataclysm mankind visited upon itself has taken away its greatest advantage; technology no longer functions in a world where physics is broken.

Life is slightly better for Daeven. Deep in the Burrows he has food, shelter and community, a quality of life that he had thought unachievable. But there is a shadow hanging over Daeven. A darkness that lies waiting in his mind, ever watchful, ever waiting.

Darkness has decided that its waiting is over.

At this point they should be telling me to shut up and take their money.


There you have it. The elevator speech, sized to fit all audiences.


3 thoughts on “The Elevator Speech

  1. This is excellent. Wish I had read it a few months ago when someone asked me what my book I’m hoping to publish is about. Fine, I can get something out for a regular Joe like me. This gal that was asking has lots of books published, an agent, and awards. I stumbled around in my answer! Oops.
    This is a great guideline. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s