Don’t you hate those people who sum up their lives in, like, fifteen seconds? What do I do? Well, after I graduated with my MBA from Dogsnorton University, I became the sales manager for Incredible Products, the premier manufacturer of sodium-hydroxide based whisk-broom filaments with offices here and in seventeen other countries. Perhaps you should look into purchasing sodium-hyrdoxide whisk-broom fliaments. Your first thought: don’t these elevator doors ever open?
On the one hand, it’s nice to know what that person is all about. On the other, an elevator pitch invariably leaves you standing there saying “uh, well, huh, how about that?”
Sadly, this must become you. Wait, don’t go! …well, go if you must. But hurry back.
The fellow making his elevator speech to you is showing you a sign, paving your road, mentoring you, yes, you. Instead of muttering “you’re ticking me off, Phil,” you should take a mental note. Use a pencil if you have to.
This person is showing you how to market your book. He’s not exactly granting you permission to be annoying and mono-focused, but he is giving you a great example of how to sell. His elevator speech is guiding you in creating your dustcover speech.
When you buy a book, you don’t just read the front cover. You flip it over and read the paragraph on the back of the dustcover to see if the book has more than just a cool picture to recommend it. That guy’s elevator speech is his dustcover paragraph.
Here are two dustcover paragraphs on my book, MARIGOLD’S END:
The deep blue sea has haunted and hunted twelve-year-old bookbinder’s apprentice Phineas Caswell ever since it took away his best friend and his father. Now, shanghaied aboard his uncle’s ship, the Kathryn B along with his new-found friends Louise and Taylor, he must face pirates, storms, and the secret of nations as he learns the meaning of trust and the value of responsibility.
Everything happens to twelve-year-old bookbinder’s apprentice Phineas Caswell: his father and best friend are taken by the sea, he’s beset by bullies, and he’s dragged off to sea by his uncle. But, after learning the ways of sailors, after battling ruthless pirates, facing storms, and even determining the fate of nations, he realizes that life is not what happens to you, but what you make it.
So. Which book would you buy? – I’m sorry, “neither” is not a valid option. I’m still trying to decide which of these best describes not just the story, but the style of the book. Like the elevator speech, how you say what you say says what you need to say, too. Well, I say!
The second book sounds like more fun, but the first book might teach you more. I haven’t figured out which one I like yet – your input would be appreciated before you leave the elevator.
So, go out there and practice your dustcover speech. Who knows? Someday you might be on an elevator, and someone might ask what you do. You turn to them and say “Everything happens to twelve-year-old bookbinder’s apprentice Phineas…”
Don’t these doors ever open?