18. The Elevator Pitch (and a chance to read my novel before publication!)


A lot is made of the elevator pitch… how you would sell yourself to an agent if you became stuck in a lift with one for a very short time. How would you explain your work and try to get them hooked?

I made an attempt at Christmas, though at the time I didn’t even realising I was pitching. I was talking to my Brother-in-Law and he asked me: “What’s the book about?”

“Good question,” I replied and started talking… and talking… and talking. After a while I started going around in circles, like a flea-bitten dog chasing his tail, while my listener’s face took on the grey fug of incomprehensibility. Eventually, giving up completely I said: “Well, you’ll just have to read it, won’t you?”

I’m sure that would work with the literary high-flyers at Bigmouth, Niche and Snob, aren’t you?

At least it got me thinking, though, that the first thing I needed to come up with was a hook…

Mark Edwards, highly successful author of suspense thrillers such as “The Magpies” and “Because She Loves Me”, always says you need to explain your novel in one sentence and as an example says The Magpies is “Nice young couple tormented by neighbours from hell”. Perfect example.

Thinking about my novel, the truth is I’ve set myself the deadline of publishing this summer because it coincides with the Rugby World Cup, so I guess I could describe it as a Rugby World Cup thriller.

That’s nowhere near the full story, though, because sport plays a relatively small part in the novel.

I talked it over with Ben Seales, of Ebook Editorial, who read my original synopsis. In doing so, gradually the story became clearer in my mind, leading me to write a blurb for the back of my book. I reckon it’s a really useful exercise, maybe even before you’ve written a word.

This is mine…

A Rugby World Cup thriller

FOOTBALL PRODIGY Gary Marshall and best mate Arnie Dolan spend their teen years battling adversity on the tough London council estate where they live. Then, after Gary lands his chance with a Premier League club, his philandering dad abandons the family, sparking a chain of events with massive repercussions for both boys. 

Eight years later convicted killer Arnie leaves prison determined to track down his childhood friend with a shocking secret to impart. So why is Gary hiding away in Wales as a sports writer under an assumed name? And why did he never take the time to visit his best friend in prison?

As the Rugby World Cup approaches the mysteries start to unravel, culminating in a shattering climax at Wales’ rugby temple, The Millennium Stadium.

This week I attended a highly informative evening with the London Writers Cafe, a group of fellow enthusiasts either planning their first novel or trying to unravel the secrets of selling it. The panel consisted of…

• Caroline Goldsmith of Red Button, who help indie authors fulfill their publishing ambitions.

Chris McCrudden, of Midas PR, who did the public relations for the London Book Fair and offered advice on pitching for reviews, getting coverage and interest from media and tips on promoting yourself and your work.

• Justine Solomons, the mastermind behind the networking group Bytethebook, whom I’ve mentioned before.

• Ali Dewji,  at I_AM Self-publishing, who help authors with every step of the process, and…

• Andrew Lowe a writer, editor and journalist, like myself, who has just published The Ghost with the help of Matador publishing.

They all had their own take on the key elements if you are to succeed as an independent author. Most of them had the same message and it broke down into three parts…

1. Polishing – making it the best it can be, meaning getting it properly edited.

2. Packaging – Make sure you have a really professional cover which would sit pretty with all the traditionally published novels in the market place.

3. Pushing it – This is where the marketing comes in, and you have to be responsible for this yourself.

On that note I’ve decided I need help from my potential audience. I am looking for five avid readers who would like a word document copy of Crossing The Whitewash in its current state, to write a review and furnish me with any feelings/comments etc. In return, not only can you say you helped an author launch his novel but I’ll mention you in the acknowledgements.

I will pick five people at random (you know: ripping up pieces of paper and putting them into the hat like the Grand National Sweepstake you do at work) and those successful people will receive the word document which, if they are technically minded, they may be able to transfer over onto their kindle or iPad (Mrs Rippers did it so it can’t be TOO difficult) and a short questionaire. For those who don’t succeed, no one goes away empty handed. I’ll send you a copy of my short story, the Plagiarist, which I entered recently in a BBC Radio 4 competition.

To be in with a chance of becoming one of my chosen helpers all you have to do is click here and go to my blog The Ripper File, sign up to my email list on the home page and I will pick the winners next Tuesday. When the book is out on the market you’ll also get a free ebook or paperback, whichever you prefer. Thanks in anticipation for your help and support.

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