The 20 Second Sales Pitch

Portrait Of Female Bookshop Owner Outside StoreI was recently introduced as an author to someone whose first question was, “What is your book about?” My book has been published for an entire year, so my answer should have been well rehearsed, but I froze. Whatever I did say was a mumbled mess unmemorable to even me.

Before your book is finished being published you will be asked this question many times. The answer to this question is sometimes referred to as the “20 second sales pitch” or the “elevator pitch”. Your answer will either engage a potential reader or turn them away. Your pitch should be both interesting and concise. When you begin working on your pitch, pretend you have stepped into an elevator and you only have 3 floors to sell your book to the other riders in the elevator.

My 20 second pitch for The Common Hours is (when I don’t freeze), “A woman is caught in an affair with the local minister and leaves her family in shame. The story tells the events in her life and the life of her daughter in the year following that event.”

Once you develop your pitch, know it. It might come easier when you are asked this question at a book event such as a signing. I am easily thrown off when I am in a different context. What if you freeze like I did? It might help to always have some tools nearby. Here are some tools I like to keep with me:

A copy of the book:

I keep a copy of the book at my office, in my car, my computer bag, and my purse. If you freeze, you can always grab a copy of the book and hand it to them to look at. The person who asked the question has something to look at as you re-engage your brain. They can read the summary on the back of the book too.


I designed bookmarks to hand out to people. I find bookmarks more enticing than a business card. A bookmark has the artwork of your cover, a summary of the story, possibly reviews, and contact and purchase information. Bookmarks also come in handy at book events and signings. A business card gets tossed into a pile of other business cards, a bookmark will probably find its way into the readers library where they may come across it often.

Bookmark design is offered through as part of the marketing design package. Your custom template can be sent to your preferred business for printing. I chose to use my local UPS office where I ordered 1,000 high quality glossy bookmarks for $50. See for more information on purchasing marketing materials for your book.

If you are asked about your book and you freeze. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Take it as a reminder to refresh or sharpen your 20 second pitch. You will be asked the same question again, and you will ace it the next time.

Tina Stephens

Author of The Common Hours &

editor in chief at  Armchair Books Publishing







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