Saturday, April 08, 2006

Elevator Music

I have been advised, ordered and instructed - if I know what's good for me - to produce an "elevator pitch" for the WIP, Trio of Dragons.
By one of those increasingly commonplace mental viruses that regularly invade Blogland, Tanya posted about this t'other day.
Some people find this "high concept" stuff easy.
I don't.
Because I wrote a cross-genre novel. (That sounds better than just admitting I'm dim.)
Elevators are a marketing tool.
Soo, what's the market for a cross-genre when you're touching the edges of several genres in effect?
It's like morphing a three-legged stool into a pedestal table.
Do you pick one element to piggy-back the other?

A Romance audience might prefer something like this:
A certain sexy man is more dangerous to a lonely beautiful woman than time travel, dragons and assassins.


For the paranormal/historical audience:
A myth-busting woman learns that time travel is DNA-based and lineage-linked - and every age has its dragons.

Or: Damie Tempest is a modern myth-buster who finds herself in the middle of the Twelfth Century and in the middle of the Legend.


Or: paranormal/thriller:
Dragons in the Twelth Century. Assassins in the Twenty-First. What's a beautiful, innocent widow to do?


Then there's the Character approach:
A quiet widow finds the dangers of time travel, dragons, assassins and handsome men reveal her true character. She may be something of a dragon herself.


Or the TV Guide type:
One strong woman must repeat the past to defend the future. Every age has its dragons.

Ho. Hum.

Many cross-genre novels, actually, can be tweaked to target any audience - and isn 't that up to Marketing anyway?

I hope Forrest has some good recipes for Night Crawlers.
Because my "elevator" doesn't go all the way to the top.

Note: Pleased to report that James has put on a trenchcoat and is hanging around the schoolyard with the rest of us. The Dark Side wins a valuable convert. Go and enjoy.


Erik Ivan James said...

I hate elevators.
I panic.
I grab the hand rails.
I bend the hand rails
with terror driven strength.
I'll never pitch-talk anything
in elevators.
Choked with fear.

Excellent post.
I anticipate learning a great deal from those who have dealt with your question concerning cross-genre.

Janna of Canada said...

I personally would vote for a combination of the paranormal/thriller one the paranormal/historical, and the romance:

Dragons in the Twelth Century. Assassins in the Twenty-First. A myth-busting widow learns that time travel is DNA-based and lineage-linked, that every age has its dragons, and that a certain sexy man may be more dangerous than time travel, dragons and assassins put together.

Total words - 44. Too long, but that's a common problem of mine. Surely it could be wittled down.

Just my opinion. Still enjoying your blog!

Bernita said...

Aw, Erik, seems a lot of people have claustrophobia in elevators.
I rather like them, especially the one's with the "taking -off" hydraulics.I want to push all the buttons, too.

Just thought of another elevator for the older Reader's Digest crowd.
"I am Damie's ass."

Bernita said...

Janna, you're in genius category.
That just might work.
The dust bunnies in my office have been playing with the balls of wadded paper I've been heaving over my shoulder.

Savannah Jordan said...

I like Janna's concept, although I agree with her. cut out some of the verbiage and smooth it out.

Erik Ivan James said...


"I am Damie's ass." in?...zooom...elevator falling...what?....

I liked Janna's too.

Lady M said...

Janna has the write concept *g*

You can market it to yours.

Stop looking at the ms as yours - and look at it as if you were selling someone else's product.

It becomes much easier that way.

Assasins are no match for a beautiful woman who encounters dragons, time travel and one sexy man.

Or something along those shortened lines.

You've got it going on girl - just think as if you were someone else for a moment.

How would you pitch it? If it belonged to someone else?

Lady M

Bernita said...

Goes back to an old series the mag used to run, Erik, intended to make the anatomy of the human body more personal and understandable to the lay reader. had titles like "I am Joe's Left Kidney."

What about
"Wrenched back and forth in time, one strong woman faces dragons and assassins with equal aplomb.
She learns time travel is lineage-linked and DNA based - and every age has its dragons.
But crap, that leaves out the roo-mance.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Not being familiar with the original post, this depends on who you're pitching to in that elevator. If it's an agent, it depends on what they represent.

And cross-genre should just mean more marketable, not less. More for people of a variety of tastes to like.

Or one would hope.

Bernita said...

Hmm, good advice, Lady M.

"Assassins and dragons are no match for a lovely woman wrenched back and forth in Time.
Neither is one sexy man."

Erik Ivan James said...

"She learns time travel.......
..-romance and dragons in every age." (?)

Bernita said...

It seems that agents pitch to appropriate publishers, and publishers have to explain to book sellers where to shelve the thing, Sandra, and they now all seem to want the writer to have the pitch already made.

I find it a little inside-the-box myself, but then there's lots of factors I don't know.

James Goodman said...

I agree, cross genre gives you a little more wiggle room. I like the combination of several of these, but when it comes down to it, you have to know who you're pitching it to and tailor it to their presumed tastes.

Thanks for the link, BTW.

Bernita said...

You're welcome, James, and agreed.
Problem is some are very broad about their taste.

Robyn said...

I like the "dragons in every age" bit, but don't give away the time-travel DNA link in the blurb! Let me discover that one with Damie in the book, please.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Robyn, ya think?

How about:

"Neither dragons , assassins or sexy police inspectors are a match for a lovely myth-busting woman wrenched between centuries.
Every ages has its dragons - and Damie Tempest may be one herself.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I thought this one was excellent:

A myth-busting woman learns that time travel is DNA-based and lineage-linked - and every age has its dragons.

This novel is probably not my genre of choice, but I would read that book.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jason.
It does have the advantage of brevity.
Wonder though if it is misleading?
Let's say a reader wants a little hard or technical Sci-fi and finds he's picked up a romantic paranormal.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that blurb sounds like technical or hard sci-fi. Moreover, the cover, shelving,and title of the book will also signal the reader as to content. When I got a basket of comments on blurbs I did, one common theme was specific touches from the story are better than broad generalities. They're just more tasty. That's why I like that particular blurb.

To me, short marketing blurbs strike a delicate balance. You want to capture the widest possible audience while still being true to the soul of your book and giving specifics. I might love stories where a person discovers a secret room in the midst of a haunting and uncovers some dark, hidden, secret. But I'll also be hooked by "ghost story." Or even "creepy suspense." The more focused we market, the more readers drop off the edges.

kmfrontain said...

We were discussing tag lines on ERWF, and all of us concluded they must be one-liners that punch, as opposed to blurbs that can take more than one sentence and draw you in. I wasn't sure if you were going for a tag line or a blurb, since some examples were pretty short, but my favourite so far is "Assassins and dragons are no match for a lovely woman wrenched back and forth in Time. Neither is one sexy man."

It's on the romantic end, but it would catch my interest. And it's short and has it all.

Gabriele C. said...

I agree with Robyn, don't give the DNA thing away.

Bernita said...

All this helps, you know.
I may stop sitting on the floor in the corner of the elevator, sulking, and poking at buttons with my umbrella.

Janie said...

This is hilarious and GOOD TOO!

And Janna is a genius. Still trying to find a way to wire into her brain. ;>

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I, too like Janna's take on the subject!

It't like writing a resume, you toss the stuff that doesn't have anything to do with the company that your pitching.

Bernita said...

Hi melinda, nice of you to add a comment. Thank you.

Bonnie, I'm getting to the point of just writing "Damie travels through Time and kicks butt."

Janna of Canada said...

Many commenters have suggested leaving out the DNA element, however that strikes me as one of the truly original aspects of the story. Isn't that something you'd want an agent/publisher to know about, for it's the sort of thing that would separate this story from all the other timeslip stories out there. (I presumed that the pitch's target audience was an agent/publisher since a true blurb such as would be found on a novel's dustjacket isn't what lands an author representation or a sale in the first place.)

I agree with everyone who said that cross-genre equals greater marketability, however I suspect that at some point you'll have to give one genre greater preference over the others, at least when it comes to pitching. Perhaps if you thought about which published author you'd most like to see your own work shelved beside.

BTW, I meant to mention this in my first comment: I love the tagline "Every age has its dragons". That alone would pique my interest.

For The Trees said...

Dear Ms. Harris:

By a neato combination of stupidity and not enough coffee, I managed to post yet another Nightcrawler recipe at the end of the comments on YESTERDAY'S blog post. Silly me. I was so blown away by the mention of my meager offerings over at For The Trees I didn't know what to do except run around in circles with my hands in the air yodeling "The traffic! The traffic! Holy Shibboleths, The traffic!!"

Now. Enough stupidity. On to something intelligent. Go read James Goodman's blog.

Now, finally: I'm a cross-genre fool too. I have no idea how to one-line market these stories. I'm still frightened of the interviewer's first question, "So what's your book about?"

It's the first and last try at getting the viewers' and readers' interest. It's the be-all-end-all in this world of 15-second commercials and 3-second sound bites. It's death to someone who writes without speed-typing. It's anathema to authors. It's Marketing 101 and it's totally at odds with Masters in English. It's like saying, "My book is on CD and it's only 15 minutes long! Pick up your copy today!"

I have worried my way down to a squibble on my first novel, Artesia, by saying "It's about a man's mid-life crisis, and the Angel tells him what to do. He fights against her advice." That positively sucks as far as describing the story, because it's REALLY about bipolar disorder AND talking to your alter ego AND yelling at God AND being told what to do by an Angel AND building a waterpark AND getting meds for the bipolar disorder.

And that's the simple novel I wrote. So...does it get shelved in the medical section (less competition) or in the literary fiction section (lotsa competition) or in the commercial fiction section (book's lost in there)?

It won't go in religious because he cusses God out in his frustration. So whattya do?

Lie about the book by being too short on the description and piss off a LOT of Christians looking for a good read.

I give up. I gotta quit going to other people's blogs and posting long comments that run on and on and on. I'm taking my worms and going home.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Janna.
Every age has its dragons" is definitely going to be part of the pitch.

Forrest, we know it's just your creativity overflowing.
Try "Talking back to an angel is highly theraputic"

For The Trees said...

Try "Talking back to an angel is highly theraputic"

Now THAT'S a one-liner!

Anybody wanna set up a One-Liner Forum? Post your synopsis and everybody gets to toss out a one-liner for ya!!

I gotta go take a nap. It's been a hairy day - took a nap all afternoon and now I need another one.

S. W. Vaughn said...


"Every age has its dragons."

That is a powerful line. You should start your pitch out with that. I would read that in a second -- wouldn't even wait to find out what else you had to say.

Can you say, "You had me at hello"? There's your elevator!

Bernita said...

Thank you, S.W. You clinch it.

Lisa Hunter said...

Or, you could use the line common to Hollywood movies: "Based on a true story..."