Can you answer this question in one sentence?
This type of “answer” is often referred to as “your elevator speech” or your “book blurb.” It tells the reader in simple terms what to expect when they read your book.
On March 16 I’m scheduled to present a session at the 2017 Cuenca International Writers Conference in Cuenca, Ecuador. My 50-minute session is entitled: “Getting to the Essential: How to Organize & Write Your Elevator Speech & Your Synopsis.” The focus will be on how and why you need to do this.
It’s easy to break down your novel and say what it’s about if you follow the basics of journalism: who, what, why, when & where? Addressing these questions forms the basis for your elevator speech and your blurb, your description of what your book is about.
Let’s look at two such descriptive sentences and break down what makes them effective.
“The search is on for six million dollars hidden in a Las Vegas Hotel destined for destruction.” (IMPLOSION)
The search (what) is on for six million dollars hidden (why) in a Las Vegas Hotel (where) destined for destruction (when).
“When the world’s most famous magician dies on national television in a Las Vegas roller coaster escape stunt, it’s no accident and all the suspects are magicians with plenty of secret motives for murder.” (MAGICIDE)
“When the world’s most famous magician (who) dies on national television (what) in a Las Vegas roller coaster escape stunt (where), it’s no accident and all the suspects are magicians with plenty of secret motives for murder. (Why)”
Another way to approach this is to describe your character, the inciting incident (what happens to him that triggers the story), what he/she must then do, and why (or else!)
Here’s a formula you can use:
Description of character…must do….verbal action….by…..or…..
To further get a feel for this, read imdb descriptions of movies and tv series:
“Jack Bauer, Director of Field Ops for the Counter-Terrorist Unit of Los Angeles, races against the clock to subvert terrorist plots and save his nation from ultimate disaster.” (24)
“A working-class African-American father tries to raise his family in the 1950s, while coming to terms with the events of his life.” (Fences)
“A manipulative Southern belle carries on a turbulent affair with a blockade runner during the American Civil War.” (Gone With the Wind)
“Tarzan, having acclimated to life in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment.” (The Legend of Tarzan)
“A bipolar CIA operative becomes convinced a prisoner of war has been turned by al-Qaeda and is planning to carry out a terrorist attack on American soil.” (Homeland)
Now, I challenge you to take ten minutes and write one sentence that describes your story, and share it in the comments below.
No doubt you’ve learned a lot so far in your career.
Why not turn it into a book?
Inc.com says, “A book can be a powerful tool for advancing your career and establishing yourself as a brand and as an industry leader.”
Writing a book is a great way to establish yourself as a credible expert. It will impress colleagues and potential employers, make you stand out from competitors, and increase your market value.
But first you want to do your homework. Learn about the publishing business. Research who else has already written a book similar to yours.
Then work with the best. A professional publishing team—which can include a ghostwriter, an editor, a publisher, a distributor and a promoter—will help you present yourself as polished and professional.
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Ask yourself: What if you invested $2,000 and got an amazing promotion? Or the new job of your dreams?
Would it be worth it?
What do Ray Bradbury, Herman Melville, and Tony Hillerman have in common?
Their stories of rejection, failure, and overcoming adversity are light-heartedly told in Joyce Spizer Foy’s book, Rejections of the Written Famous.
If you’re bummed and need inspiration, this book will reassure you that you are not alone.
Hillerman’s agent actually advised him, “Get rid of the Indian stuff.”
When I met Joyce Spizer Foy in 2003 she was speaking about writing at Las Vegas’ Enterprise Library, near where I lived.
I had just received a detailed letter (rather unheard-of!) from a New York agent I had queried for my eco-adventure romance, Hard Amazon Rain, and was discouraged by all the changes she suggested.
Joyce told me, “You get in there and make those changes and send that book right back to them, now!”
That agent ultimately didn’t pick up my book, but the changes were made and I think the book turned out better for it.
Dan Poynter is an American author, consultant, publisher, professional speaker and parachute designer. Since 1969, he has written more than 130 books,
Dan says, “Why do so many books get their start being published by the author? Rejection! The explanation is simple and let us not blame the publisher for failing to recognize good writing.”
Whether you’re a writer, artist, entrepreneur, musician, or dreamer, this collection of inspirational quotes and short stories from those who didn’t give up can’t help but make you feel better.
Joyce didn’t give up on her dreams, and she won’t let you either.