The Elevator Pitch

You’re a writer – you know how it goes. You work and work and pour your heart and adenoids into your project. And then someone asks “What’s it about?”

My novel is stuck in the capable hands of my reader/editor. Stuck like for almost three months. Getting to it, getting to it…

At first I thought that maybe I should be writing something else, something more. Something to keep the writing wheels turning.

So I took a turn downtown just this week, hoping that a story, an idea, anything, might pop out at me. I strolled down the sleepy city street with the intent of hearing and seeing everything, so that the story would leap out at me.

There’s a bar next to the porno shop… yes, there’s a porno shop… called The Star Lounge. What if I sat down there every night for a week and nursed a beer and recorded the comings and goings of the cheerful regulars? That might be interesting, dontcha think? Oh, it might take an amalgam of a month’s worth of beers to find out that there is no story in there. It’s not like spending an evening watching Cheers, after all. Could I drink beer that often and not get hooked?

That was it. That was the idea that came to me.

After that, I tried super hard to clear my mind and think about nothing. To slow down and feel the pavement through my shoes. To see everything. To hear the traffic on the freeway, yes, but also the music from the boombox strapped to the bicycle as that crazy-looking guy wobbled past. To see the setting sun highlight the mission belltower and the dried weed-covered hills in an amber color so remarkably golden against the bright blue Southern California sky.

And then, oh so clearly, I got the idea that the story will come to me. Some things you can’t produce, and an idea is one of them. The idea finds you.

And then I got hungry and kind of cranky and decided this was an errand for fools. Damn it, man, I AM that fool!

But, when I got home, the idea struck me that if I want to work on something, why not complete the marketing task that accompanies the book in my wife’s hands? Hey, there’s an idea!

So, the marketing has four parts. The first is the elevator pitch. If you’re new to the concept, it’s the less-than-30-seconds-long encapsulation of your book, so that when somebody asks “what’s it about?” you have something to say.

Here’s mine:

Seventeen year old Gavin Bishop just wants to fix the desperately embarrassing text he sent to a girl. Sawdust playwright Winchester Penrose just wants a goat he can call his own. Together these two can g0 just about anywhere. Anywhere but home.

There it is. You’re the first to read it! What do you think? Would you read the book? Like the image in the header, at which you are among the very first few to gaze, would it make you pick it up?

The second part, in my thinking, is that book’s cover. If, like me, you’re hoping to have someone publish the book for you, it doesn’t hurt to show them what you’re thinking. And if, like me, you’re certain that you’ll end up publishing the book yourself, it’s nice to have.

If I may, a brief indulgence about that cover: the man is a 3D model from Reallusion’s Character Creator. You can give your character, male or female, just about any feature you’d like, including that nifty little beard and that sort of snarky expression. It’s free-to-try software, although I bought mine.

The painting in the background was made by an online AI painter called Wombo. Again, it’s free software, and it’s oh so fun to goof around with. You give it a prompt, like “sailing ship in a hurricane,” and it takes a stab at combining images to make a picture. The more detail you give it, the better it does.

The images were all compiled in GIMP, another free, open-sourced piece of software. Coming from someone who uses Adobe’s PhotoShop on a daily basis, I’m here to tell you that it’s really good software, especially for the price.

The third part of the marketing business is the Agent List. I have one that’s a couple of years old, so that’s into the dustbin and on with a new list of literary agents. A long list of emails to send to people so that they can say things like “pass,” or more generously “I don’t think your proposal is right for me.” But maybe this time there will be one who says “I like it!”

Because the fourth and final part of the marketing business is faith. Yep. Faith that it’s a good piece of work. Faith in yourself that you could craft it, and faith that the story will resonate with someone out there. Because, really, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? You’ve got a story tell, and, please God, there’s someone out there who will be touched by it and enjoy it.

Be a love and let me know if you liked or, heaven forbid, didn’t like the cover or the pitch. Drop me a comment. I would so truly appreciate it!

And best of luck to you in your endeavor!

Author: John D Reinhart

Author, technical writer, videographer, actor, and naval historian John D Reinhart is a very busy guy. You can find his novels as

3 thoughts on “The Elevator Pitch”

    1. You are so right, Tanisha. That should probably be the first part of marketing! Where I struggle is with having faith that my marketing efforts will bear fruit. I imagine we all feel a challenge with that. Thank you for the comment and please be well.

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