Here’s a question for all you authors out there: What’s you book about?
What seems like an innocuous and easy question can stump even the most seasoned writer. Minds go blank and the right words just don’t come. It can go something like this, “well it’s about this guy – and he um, meets up with this girl…then there’s this other guy, err Dave…,” and by now you’ve lost the listener.
It’s overwhelming, you’ve been put on the spot. That’s a lot of pressure. How do you condense your 100,000 word masterpiece into one sentence?
But as an author, you must be prepared to summarize your book for marketing and interviewing purposes. Can you describe your non-fiction book or novel clearly and succinctly? If a reporter called right now and asked about your book, could you deliver? Or would you pause, mumble and falter? If you met an agent in an elevator could you pitch your book to her in 30 seconds? Or would you just fall to pieces and miss your chance?
This is your one liner, elevator pitch or tag line. Your most important tool. It can be used in conversation (you never know who you’ll bump into), during short media interviews, and in your written marketing material.
In ‘Media Ready, Media Savvy,’ I discuss the importance of crafting a one page synopsis, a one paragraph summary and of course the one sentence description I’m referencing here. I encourage authors to write the one page synopsis first, then the paragraph summary, and from that whittle it down into one sentence.
When tackling these synopses ask yourself these questions:
What type of book have I written?
What is the genre?
What action words can I use to reflect the style or genre?
Who is my protagonist?
What is their goal?
Who is the villain?
What is the main conflict?
Who is my audience?
What is my main theme?
What is my message?
What is my objective?
Who is the message for?
What’s different or unique about my message?
Why did I, of all people, write this?
What are my credentials?
What makes me the best person to deliver this message?
For both fiction and non-fiction you can also add relevant awards you’ve received or any good reviews.
And lastly, always consider this question: why should anyone care? Your job is to make them care. Write a one liner that makes your work irresistible. Remember you need to grab their attention and leave them wanting to learn more about you and your book.
Here are a couple of examples of one sentence descriptions.
Jaws, by Peter Benchley and the movie by the same name.
“When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and a grizzled fisherman set out to stop it.” (From the Internet Movie Database)
Notice here there’s a villain (a killer shark) and the good guys whose goal is to save the townspeople.
Fried, Why you Burn Out and How to Revive, by Joan Z. Borysenko, Ph.D
“In this timely and groundbreaking work, Joan Borysenko – a Harvard trained medical scientist, psychologist, and renowned pioneer in stress and health – straddles psychology, biology, and soul in a completely fresh approach to burnout.”
Here it clearly states that this book is current and relevant, and the author was trained at one of the top medical institutions in the U.S., which gives her credibility.
And now for the fun part. I would like to give a paperback copy of my workbook “Media Ready, Media Savvy” to the author who can write the best one sentence description. This competition is open to anyone, even if you’re still in the process of writing your manuscript. You can be traditionally or independently published, and a writer of non-fiction or fiction books.
Submission is easy, just leave your one liner in the comment section below, with your name and a way we can contact you if you win.
This competition is open for one week only, from Friday, June 22, 2012, until close of business on Friday, June 29, 2012. Entries will be judged by author, producer and journalist, Alison Hill, and ClearSight Multimedia.
We look forward to reading your submissions.