In an elevator, that is. I'm liking Erica's game so much, I thought I'd franchise it over here.
Hands down the smallest elevator I was ever in was in London. Four of us barely fit. And one of the guys was smoking. (This being a problem because it really made me want a cigarette. I was with my mom.) AND it was slow, so had one of them been an agent or editor, I would have plenty of time to spout out this:
To defeat the harbingers of the End Times, a church soldier must ally Wiccan eco-terrorists with godless raiders and the warring factions of a Church facing its greatest internal conflict since 1533.
That's what you call an elevator pitch. It could also be called a "party pitch" or "lunch pitch" or "picking your kids up from school pitch". If anyone, anywhere, asks you about your book, you need to be prepared. (Nothing glazes cocktail party banter like a writer trying to figure out what their book is about.)
A pitch has one rule: It makes someone want to read your book.
So the goal is to leave the listener with questions which can only be answered by reading the book. (Also, you'll need to perfect your coy response to those verbal questions--"Well, you'll have to read it and find out.") (OK, kidding.) (Kind of.) But this is something many writers don't get in their writing, and in their pitches. You must leave room for a reader's own interpretation in your writing, (YES I SAID MUST!) and for questions in a pitch. It's two shades of the same species.
And by the way, this works for short stories as well. Having written a lot of short stories in the past few months, it's come up a lot for me. Oh, you sold one? What's it about? A couple off the top of my head.
"A government assassin rediscovers his love for music when ordered to murder a rock star ready to die for his art."
"A mystic must hold onto his faith and ally his greatest enemy when his god deserts him in the middle of a war."
"A woman must decide between confronting her past or her present when she discovers her dead husband is alive after 26 years."
So let me see 'em--your elevator pitches, one sentence, no word limit but no run-ons, please. You can even make one up for an idea of a book if you want. We don't care. If you haven't done one before, I promise you'll learn something about your story in the process.
Like I notice I'm obsessed with assassins, God, and violence when I list them all together like that.