Preparing Author One-liners
One-liners for authors is similar to the elevator speech used in the business world. The sales world claim they only have the time of an elevator ride to pitch their idea or product. Likewise, the author only has less than thirty seconds to pitch their book idea to an agent or editor.
The short, snappy description of a project can be used as the ‘hook’ in a query or cover letter and also provide guidance in keeping the author focused on the main intent while writing the story. One-liners need to be well-crafted sentences that convey the central idea, and the conflict that the main character(s) will attempt to resolve in the course of the book.
Word selection is critical in crafting one-liners that catch the listener’s or reader’s attention. Words must be exact and specific. Long words should never be used where a short one will do. Another way to strengthen a one-liner is to place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end. The last words spoken are generally what remains with the listener or reader.
While authors may only have one chance to pitch their ideas, research reveals that people have to be exposed to a message three times before it will start to sink in. As a result, authors will need to have different versions of the same idea tailored to the interest of the agent or editor at the moment.
Practice makes perfect. One-liners need to be practiced before a mirror, a best friend, or a spouse. With each trial a different word may come to mind, a different emphasis may appear. And most importantly, the story line will become more focused in the author’s mind.