Thursday, July 19, 2018

Going Up?

From Jim

Is it a part of an author’s responsibility to develop a good “elevator pitch”? If so, why; if not, why not? Any advice for those trying to develop a good/better one?

If you believe writers, the two hardest things they do are writing a synopsis and crafting an elevator pitch.

The inherent problem with elevator pitches is that there’s little time to describe your book. Therefore, you probably won’t be able to give a complete rundown of the plot and characters. What you must do is grab the interest of your trapped audience.

I don’t have an elevator pitch for any of my books, but this week’s topic inspired me to give it a shot. Here goes.

Book 1
January 1960. Newspaper reporter Ellie Stone, returns to her childhood home after her estranged father, a university professor, is attacked during an apparent burglary. Questioning the randomness of the assault, Ellie embarks on a thorny journey of discovery and reconciliation. Her investigation offers her both a chance at redemption in her father’s eyes and the risk of losing him forever.

Book 2
NO STONE UNTURNED (2015 Anthony Award finalist)
Thanksgiving 1960. A society girl found dead in the woods. Three little oil spots on the dirt road. A Dr Pepper bottle cap in the shallow grave. And a young female reporter, armed with nothing but a camera. Wading through a voyeuristic tangle of small-town secrets and big university grudges, Ellie makes some desperate enemies who want her off the case. Dead if necessary.

Book 3
STONE COLD DEAD (2016 Anthony, Barry, Lefty Award finalist)
January 1961. A child’s life is precious. Unless she comes from the wrong side of the tracks. A fifteen-year-old girl disappears from the school parking lot. The police assume she’s a runaway, so, without options, the girl’s mother turns to reporter Ellie Stone for help. Stone Cold Dead takes Ellie on a chilling journey to a place of uncertainty, loss, teenage passion, and vulnerability—a place where Ellie’s questions are unwanted and her life is in danger.

Book 4
HEART OF STONE (2017 Anthony and Macavity Award Winner; Edgar and Lefty Finalist)
August 1961. In the waning days of a lazy lakeside holiday, two men plummet to their deaths in an apparent diving accident. The two victims, one, a stranger to the lake and, the other, a teenaged boy from a nearby music camp didn’t know each other. But that’s only the first clue something’s amiss. Wading into a slippery morass of left-wing, Jewish intellectuals, rabid John Birchers, and charismatic evangelicals, Ellie must navigate old grudges and Cold War passions, lost ideals and betrayed loves. Her difficult questions put her in jeopardy. But this time, it’s her heart that’s at risk.

Book 5
CAST THE FIRST STONE (2018 Anthony, Lefty, and Macavity Award finalist)
February 1962. Local boy Tony Eberle lands a big role in a Hollywood movie, but he vanishes just when it’s time for his closeup. His agent is stumped, the director is apoplectic, and the producer is dead. Murdered. Reporter Ellie Stone is dispatched to Los Angeles for the story. There she unearths secrets no one wants revealed. But before she can solve the murder, she must locate Tony Eberle.

Book 6 
August 1962. A double murder, committed on a ghostly stud farm in the dead of night, leads reporter Ellie down a haunted path, just a stone’s throw from the glamour of Saratoga Springs, to a place where dangerous men don’t like to lose. Unraveling secrets from the past–crushing failure and heartless betrayal–she’s learning that arson can be cold revenge.

And why not a couple of short stories? These should be even shorter. I’m going to go with a single sentence for each.

“Pan Paniscus”
A mischievous bonobo named Bingo escapes from the zoo and embarks on a collision course with tragedy.

—UNLOADED Vol. 2, July 2018 

“Who Is Stuart Bridge?”
A deathbed confession reveals a long-buried crime no one wants to remember.


I’m not sure if these are any good. The truest test is whether they sparked your interest. All suggestions are welcome. 


Keenan Powell said...

Wow! And that's why you are rightfully a successful author. They are all on my TBR. I am drawing a complete blank on my elevator speeches right now but thanks for such brilliant examples!

Ann said...

I’ve read them all, so you’re preaching to the choir here!

James W. Ziskin said...

Thanks, Keenan. Not sure they’re brilliant, but these things are HARD to write!

And thank you, Ann! I truly appreciate your kind words and friendship!


Liz Milliron said...

These are all great! I'm inspired and want to read everything I haven't gotten to yet.

Cathy Ace said...

Great pitches! :-)

Susan C Shea said...

It was fun to read your pitches for the books I've already read and I agree that you've captured the essence of the stories. They read like the teaser copy my publishers have always asked me to write for the book jackets. The real problem for me is getting up the courage to say out loud the dramatic sentences I am quite comfortable putting into writing.

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