Check your elevator pitch

Hey – so today I want to do a little thing with elevator pitches. In fact, I want to do something with your elevator pitch.

The thing is, elevator pitches are tough. And it’s hard to be objective. So I’d like to offer a pair of objective eyes. I’m an agented author and full time scriptwriter (I also have a copy and content writing background in marketing) so I‘m not a bad pair of eyes, I don’t think.

So short and sweet: feel free to post your elevator pitch below and I’ll give my honest response and advice that I think might improve it.

Not sure what an elevator pitch is? Well, the dictionary defines it as “a succinct and persuasive sales pitch.” At the end of the day, we need that to sell a book – to an agent, an editor, the sales department, the bookstores, a whole host of other people involved in the publishing process and finally, the reader. 

 Things your elevator pitch needs to be:

* Unique
* Easily communicated
* Concise
* Done in 30 seconds

What forms an elevator pitch:

* Genre
* Character
* Setup
* Conflict
* Consequences

Here’s a great post by my agency: Elevator Pitches

So let’s have at it.

Post your pitch below and I’ll give you my feedback!

P.S. You can see one version of my elevator pitch here in my About Books section (just scroll to the bottom of the page.

P.P.S. At least once a month I’ll be posting with something I can help you with – first lines, queries, how to improve one of your scenes, etc. So make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out!   

56 thoughts on “Check your elevator pitch

  1. Nata is a wolf who desperately wants the life of a fairy tale princess in a world where the only story a wolf can expect is one that ends with getting shot or stabbed or with a belly full of rocks. When a witch tricks her into trading places, Nata suddenly finds herself in a human body… Sure it's an old woman's body, but it begins her quest to fulfil her dreams. But to stop the witch's evil plans to dethrone the princess, Nata must risk her only chance at the life she's always wanted. MG/F


  2. Hi. I really love your concept, Karah. This fairytale twist is very nice indeed. It has good logic and good sense in it. There are some elements that I’d love to see brought out though. Particularly, I think you can bring out the emotion and voice in the pitch. It reads very well but I don’t get a strong emotional gut reaction and I think that’s because it reads just a touch mechanical. What is the tone of your story? Dark? Brooding? Humorous? Thoughtful? If you can put that into your pitch it would really help make it stand out. Here’s a little example of what I mean. I’m going to take the angle of brooding and lonely in tone. It can just be select words that change but it will make a difference in your tone.

    (The starred words are the ones that I think show your emotional content if you go for a lonely tone. My blog comments won't let me bold!).

    Nata’s *nothing but a lonely wolf* who *yearns* for the life of a fairy tale princess in a world where the only story a wolf can expect ends with getting shot or stabbed or with a belly full of rocks. *Desperate* to get what she wants, she is tricked by a witch into trading places. *At last* she has the human body she wants and she can finally fulfill her dreams. But when the witch plans to dethrone the princess Nata has *(come close to? Respects? Befriended?)*, she must decide whether to risk her only chance at the life she's always wanted or *(other option*.

    You’ll notice above that I added in some brackets asking questions. This is because we need to see a) why saving the princess is important to Nata and b) what happens if she doesn’t save the princess and why this is important to Nata enough to risk her only chance at the life she wants.

    Hope this helps! Love where you're taking this tale!


  3. Eleven-year-old Steve Abernathy knows he has what it takes to be a real hero like his big brother who is fighting in Europe. His chance to prove it comes in the summer of 1944 when German prisoners-of-war are brought to town to work in the canning factory. Morse code flashes from the POW camp at night. Miss Brown, Steve’s Sunday school teacher, speaks fluent German, but only in secret. Dieter Zinzerdorf, a dangerously charming young POW, gets everybody to like him, especially Steve’s older sister. When Steve discovers Miss Brown passing coded messages to Zinzerdorf, his mission becomes deadly serious. Armed with only his slingshot and his wits, Steve must expose the spy ring and save his sister.


  4. I love the detail and the intriguing world you have set up here, Judy. It already feels very developed and you look to have a good grip on your characters and who they are.

    I think you need to clarify this is in 1944 right at the start so the reader understands that when you say Steve’s brother is fighting they know he is a solider (and not some sports fighter, etc). Alternatively, keep it as it is and just insert that it’s a war he’s fighting in. Either works.

    I love all the conflict in the middle. All of that works well. What I do think needs improving is who Steve wants to expose this group to? What does he think they are doing and how will it affect him? What is the goal & payoff here?

    I love the detail about the slingshot and wits, btw. 🙂

    When it comes to the of the pitch, I’d perhaps put in a line that shows the either/or element. The “If Steve does X then Y will happen and if he doesn't do X then A will happen” Show a conflicting result – two options that both seem as bad as each other and he has to choose. This will entice the reader to go to the story and find out how he gets out of this difficult conundrum.

    Finally, I think you could tighten up the word count just a smidge. Terms such as “his mission becomes deadly serious” are filler. Show this through the specifics. Anything that sounds generalized should be tweaked to be unique to your story. How do things become deadly serious? Also, look for the chance to cut extraneous words and reword for concision. For example:

    Eleven-year-old Steve Abernathy knows he has what it takes to be a real hero like his big brother who is fighting in Europe.

    This could become:

    Eleven-year-old Steve Abernathy knows he can be a real hero like his big brother fighting in Europe.

    That would save you 6 words. Granted, 6 words doesn’t sound like a lot but it is in the elevator pitch as you want to make everything as concise and pithy as possible.

    Overall, I like this a lot! You have a lot working for you here. And you've done a good job, because you have me wanting to read more despite me having some comments for you to think over :-). This really sparked my interest!

    Thank you for sharing.


  5. Thanks so much for doing this! I'm working on the query letter right now, so I have a one-minute pitch. (I timed myself reading it out loud.) Seeing your post prompted me to cut it down to 30 seconds for conferences. Here it is:

    Venus, an avatar for the goddess Aphrodite, has three weeks to help the women of Berkeley embrace their inner goddesses or else it’s goodbye Olympus, hello Hades! To succeed, she’ll need a favor from Jack Holloway, the taciturn owner of the Beanstalk Cafe & Bar and the one man who seems immune to her charms.

    Burned out and suffering from massive writer’s block, Jack struggles to keep his father’s dream alive and his brother’s family afloat. The vibrant dance instructor leading sensual movement workouts at his cafe dredges up dreams he abandoned long ago. Rather than risk getting his heart broken again, he’ll do whatever it takes to get Venus out of his hair.


  6. Hi Alexis! This has a great, pithy approach and you have your stakes right up front for your first POV character (I’m assuming there are 2 POV characters as you have separate paragraphs for each of them). You really know how to capture the voice in your pitch too.

    I do have a couple of comments though. What I’m wondering is *why* Jack is the one Venus needs help from. I know he is immune to her charms, but how is he the one who will help her turn the women of Berkley into inner goddesses? What is the connection here? What is it he has that she needs?

    I also really like Jack’s contrasting (down to earth) real life. It provides a good balance to your plot. I’d love to know what his father’s dream is (was his dream to be a writer, to have a successful café?). A little specific detail will make this more concrete and show your unique angle and how it connects to Jack. Also, what dreams did Jack abandon years ago? We need to see the connection between those dreams and why the dance instructor brings it out in him.

    You have a wonderful pitch here and great conflict shown all the way throughout. It just needs a couple of connecting bridges to make it all make sense. Good luck with this!


  7. What a generous thing to do, thank you! I’m entering my pitch in a Twitter party so I have to limit it to 140 characters including hashtags (which is why some words are shortened/abbreviated). I can’t decide which of my three pitches to use. Could you let me know your thoughts and also maybe your favourite?
    NYC. Moody dark glam. 4 wealthy sexy Execs. 5 brilliant beautiful backstabng alpha-girls. Only 1 $1M internship up 4 grabs.

    Beauty brains&balls. These stunning Wall St interns will stop at nothng 2 get what they want. & what they want is evrythng.

    What do u get when u mix super-HOT Wall St benefactors & interns? A whole ‘lota sex, a side of crazy &maybe a murder or 2!


  8. Oooh! I'm really glad you posted this as I adore twitter pitches. It's such a wonderful challenge to boil down a book to 140 characters.

    First up, I need to say that tone is all important here. Your first two speak to a darker tone but the last one reads humorous. You need to pick one that parallels the theme of your novel. I'm going to work on the assumption that the first two are closest to your theme (if I'm wrong, tell me and I'll revisit these pitches).

    Okay, so on to the pitches. I actually really like the tone of the first two. The thing is though, there is a bit of inconsistency over what the core plot is – is it the murders, is it the $1 million internship, is it sex and crazy? What is your core focus?

    Personally,I'd love to see a combination of the first two pitches that focuses specifically on the core plot.

    I love the line “Beauty brains&balls” – that caught my eye instantly. Let me know your angle and I'd be happy to look again.


  9. Thanks so much for your feedback! And to be honest, you nailed it on the head – the tone, theme and core plot are a huge mix of all of the things you mentioned. I wanted it to be realistic and contemporary so I wrote using a voice similar to my own if I were in the situation my characters are in. i.e. suddenly surrounded by beautiful people, wealth and lux in Manhattan while competing for a $1M internship. The girls are in their late 20s, grad students from the top universities in the country, very social media friendly, trendy and pop culture aware (so the tone can get humorous with Instagram and Kardashian references), who competed and won one of four coveted internships at a major Wall St firm; a firm owned by a group of super hot, wealthy brothers (in their early 30s) and their father. A fifth girl doesn't get a place in the internship so she sets out to kill one of the other girls to take her place and she's even considering killing one of the brothers too out of sheer spite! So it is dark, sexy, very glamorous with the luxurious lifestyle they're newly immersed in, cut throat and competitive and tense and suspenseful all at the same time 🙂 So I'm happy that in my super-short blurbs you were able to pick out all of those elements 🙂 I just found out that I'm allowed to use all three pitches so thankfully I won't be forced to choose just one, now!


  10. Not the original poster, but loved the pitches enough to want to chime in… what about?:

    Beauty brains & balls. 4 wealthy sexy Execs. 5 brilliant backstabbing alpha-girls. 1 $1M internship up 4 grabs… & it's worth killing for. (139 chars)


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