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How To Pitch Your Novel

With only one Minute To Wow Them:

The Perfect Elevator Pitch For Your Novel

     The secret of the successful elevator pitch is to passionately convey the most powerful elements of your story in a short concise manner-get your audience so emotionally involved they will ask for more.

Why do you need to create an elevator pitch?

     Why? Because as the name implies, if you are lucky enough to find yourself sharing an elevator ride with a much sought after literary agent, chances are you will have no longer than the short time an elevator trip last to pitch your book.

When do you need to create your elevator pitch?

     When? You can write your pitch before, during or after you write your book. I find writing an elevator pitch to be one of the most challenging areas of writing. Some writers who wait until they have completed their novel feel that you cannot condense your book's theme or concise concept into sixty (60) words or less without the benefit of your completed project to work with.

     I like to write mine in the beginning, usually after I have a detailed outline to work from. The pitch is of course, subject to change as my writing progresses.

     If you take a look at Randy Ingermanson's very popular  Snowflake Method  for novel writing you will find that the first of his ten ten recommended steps is to write a one line summary of your novel that will  serve you forever as a ten second selling tool.

     Here are a few more key points from combined with some of my own.

  •           Keep it short, the shorter the better
  •           Don't use character names. It is better to say
                    " A Female Judge"
                    " A quirky and unconventional private investigator"
                    " A doctor on the run, falsely accused of killing his wife"
                    " A handicapped trapeze artist"

     I don't disagree with this, but I  find it difficult not to mention my protagonist by name. When my pitch is a two-liner, use of her name in the second sentence serves as a smooth transition.

  •          Tie the big picture & personal picture together. Which character has the most to lose in the        story? What does she want to win?
                    What does she need to accomplish & what obstacles will prevent her from doing this?

     Cami at has an excellent and informative article on the subject titled The 50-Word Elevator Pitch. Cami, expounded on Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Method explaining how every story has (5) major elements to consider while writing your elevator pitch.

  1.      Character
  2.      Situation- Why your character is forced to act
  3.      Objective- Your character's desire
  4.      Opponent- Your antagonist directly opposes your protagonist
  5.      Disaster-    Climax- The point when all seems lost- It seems unlikely protagonist will achieve   her goal.

     For another example of a pitch written with Cami's five elements as a template of sorts, visit published author, Hilari Bell and read her post, Scoring In The Elevator.

     What I like most about Hilari's blog is her down to earth practical advice- which is that advice from someone who struggles with the pitch process can often be of more use than advice that comes easily and naturally. 

     Here is another snippet of valuable information I found on Hilari's website. 

     "Don't try to do it all by yourself."   

    Hilari gives examples of her pitches before and after kicking them around with a group of other writers. She stresses how we are too close to our own story to know what we can leave out.

    Your pitch is essentially a brief plot synopsis usually one or two sentences designed to so intrigue your listener that he will want to hear more. You have about 30 seconds, 60 seconds top, to grab him, hook him & pique his interest.  Easy enough. Right? No, it's not.

     A pitch that serves its intended purpose -landing an agent and ultimately getting you a book deal is an art that requires skill and practice. You must master the art & skill required to pack the important and intriguing details of your 80,000 + word novel into 60 or less, short words.

    But if you cannot do it, chances are an agent is not likely to believe that you can deliver a salable book.

    Hilari Bell has an e-book on this subject that is packed full of useful information and examples. You can purchase it for only $2.99 and any of her many other writer-related books at 

     In Summary:

  •      Open Strong
  •      Include the stakes involved
  •     Tell what is unique or special about your story
  •     Short & Concise
  •     Don't be too wordy, too vague or too flowery

For more information on good elevator pitches

The Dreaded Pitch  - Query Tracker provides several examples of the elevator pitch including the winning pitch from the query tracker blog contest.   

Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain

When do you write your elevator pitch? Do you have any tips or tricks you would like to share?



DEZMOND said...

it should grip you like a movie trailer ;)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

If it's possible, elevator pitches are best when they are written early because they help the author keep the general idea of the book in mind when writing it.
Great tips and links.

Melissa Sugar said...

I absolutely agree, Dezmond

Melissa Sugar said...

Thank you, Lydia. I am glad to have you back. I have been driving myself nuts trying to find all of my favorite blogs I follow. All was lost when my blog content disappeared.

Sarah Tokeley said...

I won a competition to have a query letter critiqued. I think my letter was actually a slightly longer version of an elevator pitch :-)

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