Can you tell me what your story is about in one sentence?
Let me be more specific.
Can you summarize your story in a single sentence of fifteen to twenty-five words? If you can’t, it’s time to get to work.
The one-sentence summary is a tool every writer needs to have on hand. When an agent or editor asks about your story, this short string of words is what they want to hear. Not the rambling, mumbled mess I managed to push past the boulder lodged in my throat when I attended my first writers conferences back in my newbie days.
- elevator pitch
- one-sentence pitch
I learned another one yesterday: blurb. That’s the term my agent, Rachelle Gardner, used when she asked me to send her the brief description of my book, which she’ll use when she submits the sale announcement that will appear in The Latest Deals listing on Publishers Marketplace.
Did I freak out? No. Well, truthfully, I did stare at my computer screen for a minute in a state of slack-jawed disbelief, but only because Rachelle’s request was one more proof that she really did sell my book. I didn’t dream the whole thing.
Once I shushed the giddy little girl in me and got myself under control, I went to work.
A one-sentence summary is a vital sales tool, so I’d spent time drafting one. Lots of time. Too much time? I don’t think so, considering the fact that this sentence can put a gleam in a publishing pro’s eyes if done well or cause him to glance at his watch and force a polite smile in place if done poorly.
I tend to be a wordy writer, so preparing a pithy one-sentence pitch that will wow anyone who hears it is not one of my strengths. I turned to the experts.
Three posts that teach how to create an effective one-sentence summary
- “The One-Sentence Summary” by Rachelle Gardner
- “A One-Sentence Summary Clinic” by Randy Ingermanson
- “How to Write a One-Sentence Pitch” by Nathan Bransford
When I received Rachelle’s request, I snagged the one-sentence summary from the proposal, polished it until it shone like the chrome on Gwynly’s classic MGB roadster, and sent the blurb to her. Well, not one. I sent her six possibilities and invited her to work her magic because her editing skills are top-notch. And because I’m a wee bit of a perfectionist.
.A well-crafted one-sentence summary can . . .
- Catch the attention of an agent
- Catch the attention of an editor
- Catch the attention of book buyers
- Catch the attention of readers
The announcement of my sale on PM will be the publishing world’s first glimpse of my upcoming book. That little ol’ blurb, short as it is, can create interest in the story, which is why it’s so important to have a well written one.
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Do you have a one-sentence summary you’d like to share?
Do you have a one-sentence summary success story?
Do you have tips you use to create great hooks?