The Elevator Pitch: One Sentence to Explain the Book!

The Elevator Pitch is one of those great technical terms which should scare any writer.  The idea is to boil your entire book down to one sentence.  Yes, that 80,000 word novel needs to be turned in to a sentence.  Fun.  Exciting.  Shoot me now, please!

The phrase comes from elevators across the country.  (Or best I can tell that’s where it originated.)  For our specific purposes, what happens is an author meets an agent in the elevator of a building.  (Imagine during a writers’ conference.)  The author has the couple of seconds between floors to give the agent the gist of the book.  In those seconds, the author must show there is a story, and tell about the story.  Hence the term “elevator” pitch.

It’s everything about the book.  What’s the genre?  (And, no, agents don’t want you to say “family saga” in the sentence.)  A pretty good post on pitches can be found over on QT’s Blog.  After showing a winning pitch from one of QT’s contests, the agent goes in to what type of bad pitches she’s seen.

The pitch isn’t easy.  The whole idea of creating a one sentence pitch is a little daunting.  I’m glad I’m not the only one who works over the pitch multiple times before I find it.

My pitch for the blog is the tagline; a writer’s journey to being published.  That’s what the blog is all about in a nutshell.  The blog is about my journey and we’d all like to see it end with me being published.  From the thoughts in my head, to the computer screen, to BR’s computer screen, to the agent, to being shopped to publishers writing is always a journey to being published.  That’s just what the tagline/pitch offers you.

Same idea holds true for the book pitch.  The idea is to tell you what to expect in two seconds.  So, if I was to give you my first attempt at a pitch for SWEET SIXTEEN it would be something like this: Most sixteen years old kids dream of leaving home, but Alexandria Houston dreams of finding a home.

Okay, bad attempt.  I admit it.  I did get the main character, and she’s sixteen.  But what else did I tell you about the book?  Nothing!  Why is Alexandria looking for a home?  Does she find a home?

Let’s try another idea: Sweet Sixteen Alexandria Houston dreams of a Forever Home, but when she finds a place that might be the right fit the foster child in her wonders if she’s good enough to earn the love of a family.

It isn’t a hook.  But it tells you about the plot.  Alexandria, a foster child, wants a Forever Home, yet when she finds a home she wonders if she’s worth the love her new family gives her.  Tons of information about the plot.  A couple of questions, but this is an idea I can work with.

It’s closer to what I need for the agents.  It’s closer to what my future agent needs for the publishing houses.  Closer is always good.  The best part is my elevator pitch doesn’t fit in the query letter, so I’ve got a couple more days to work on the pitch than the query!

So, any of my writer friends want to share the pitch for their latest books?  For their blogs?  Comment below.



4 thoughts on “The Elevator Pitch: One Sentence to Explain the Book!

  1. I’m doing the 31-DBBB challenge. This was our first assignment. I didn’t know what an elevator pitch was until that moment and then I had to dig a little more. Finally, I have one for my blog. I won’t worry with my next book, yet.

    My blog pitch is: Everyday is a new chapter, full of inspiration waiting to be shared from me to you. It may be a little cheesy, but it really says it all in what I’m trying to accomplish. I’m the ‘girl next door’ wanting to inscribe myself into your heart one sentence at a time with whatever captures my attention for the day.

    Your pitch for Sweet Sixteen grabbed my attention so far and I betcha, you’ll snag the right agent with it once you’ve polished it.

    • When I read your post I didn’t want to say “Hey, I’ve got that scheduled in a couple of weeks!” Your pitch is great for your blog. Personally, it seems the blog pitch is easier than the book pitch. It’s not like you’re trying to get that huge book down in to a sentence. You’re just telling people what to expect from your blog.

      The book pitch is my last thing to completely find and polish. At least I’m not going to writers’ conferences at the moment trying to pitch to agents without a polished pitch. I wouldn’t worry about the pitch until you’re ready to sell the book.

      Thanks for the encouragement on my pitch! I think it’s right under the query letter on my favorite things to do in life. And there’s nothing after that. 🙂

  2. Here’s an elevator pitch for you from my latest YA novel:

    WINNING AURELIA is the story of 14 year old Owen Robertson, an autistic child chess prodigy and social misfit on a quest to win the heart of the girl across the street.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts!


    — Malcolm

    • I’m horrible with elevator pitches, but I think it works. It lets me know exactly what your book is about (an autistic child) and that Owen will attempt to win a girl’s heart. Thanks for stopping, Malcolm. Hope to see you around!

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