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Your Book: From Concept to Elevator Pitch

The Concept:

Most books start their life as a hazy idea cherished deep inside the writer’s mind. These are the children we should have had, the stories people would have loved.

But sadly, most books are prematurely abandoned by their writer, strangled by the unforgiving blank page, long before they are ready to be born. They die alone and in the dark dreaming of the joy they could have brought into the world.

The reason so many books never see the light of day is the fact that what seems so simple and elegant in our minds often becomes almost impossible to describe to a stranger in the cold light of day. The more we try to prod and poke our book into life, like a genie in a bottle, it becomes something monstrous and impossible to contain within the confines of mere chapters, paragraphs and sentences. Inevitably, writers give up before the book even had a chance at life.

We at Libertad fight to give a voice to all of those needlessly aborted stories. We strive to give writers a choice those stories never had. We give you the tools you need to give your book the best chance to live.

How to give birth to a book:

Birth demands restriction. Cut off all that is not your story. Turn it into an ‘elevator pitch’.

Outline the concept for the book in as few sentences as possible. If I met you in an elevator, explain to me what your book is about before I get to my floor.

As an example, the following was the final elevator pitch for my first novel, ‘The Last Letters of Jesus’. It was harder to write than the book.

 

The pitch started life as several pages of porridge. Eventually, after many tears and a few tantrums it got whittled down to:

The lands of Israel, in the first century, gave birth to a dream; the core of this dream has sustained, either directly or indirectly, Western Civilisation and three major religions, for nearly two millennia.

Like a fragile desert flower, this dream has survived through the ages, within a hostile environment, its seeds preserved almost by accident. Just as a flower cannot exist shorn of its roots, so too, this dream cannot survive divorced from an understanding of the people and the times of its Genesis.

Israel in the first century was a melting pot of Greek, Roman and Oriental thought. Within the Hebrew Nation, in the context of these invasions, a war was being fought to decide the fate of the Jewish People and to understand what it means to be ‘Human’.

This story illuminates this war and the birth of this dream through the life of a Jewish Rabbi, who has since been disowned by his people and silenced by his own legend. Looking though his eyes, we focus on his words and teachings and by travelling with him, glimpse the profundity of his message.

 

Obviously this was still terrible and much too ephemeral. After murdering all of my ‘darlings’, I eventually got the pitch down to two sentences:

An Historical Thriller: In first Century Palestine a war was being fought for the soul of the Jewish People. Yeshua Bar Yosef holds a secret that could save his country and his people but saving his country may cost him his life.

By working this closely with your initial concept you will create a child that may have the power to give life to a chapter structure.

Some people think in lists, some people think in numbers but I tend to think in pictures. I use mind maps and spreadsheets to separate my initial concept into each limb, or chapter, that it will need to live.

If you are not familiar with this process, email us and tell us about your concept. We will be happy to send you a sample mind map and/or an Excel Spreadsheet that will help you define your chapters, characters, and story timeline.

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