Elevator Pitches that Go to the Top Floor: Part 1/5–It Doesn’t Stay in the Elevator

You know what makes my life easy? Blogging a series. Which is why I’m announcing a five-part Sub It Club Manifesto: ELEVATOR PITCHES THAT GO TO THE TOP FLOOR.

elf in elevator animated gif
yeah. don’t do this.

Catchy, huh?

I’ve attended workshops, been advised by Famous Authors, written, critiqued and been critiqued–and still find it difficult to boil down 300 pages into two sentences. But if Gone With the Wind can be summed up with:

When the genteel life she knew crumbles, a southern belle survives on charm and guts to overcome war, deprivation and men.

then there’s hope for all of us.

An elevator pitch is a one- or two-sentence summary of your novel designed to make the listener want to know more. Some say 25 words, others say 50. I tend to think the best word count falls somewhere in between. Whatever you can spew at an agent before he escapes the elevator.


Not attending any conferences this year? You still need an elevator pitch, because…


  1. Pitch contests–between blogs, websites and Twitter, there are lots of opportunities online. Be sure to check our monthly contests list.
  2. Writing tool–if you can’t peel your story down to its heart, some plot tinkering might be in order. Some authors write a pitch before they even start writing, to keep them on track.
  3. Your query–an elevator pitch is the framework to hang your query letter on. Fill in a few more details, and you have your opening paragraph.
  4. Your jacket flap–if you’ve composed a great pitch, an editor will often base the jacket flap material on it.
  5. Marketing–you don’t stop selling your story once it’s published. On your website, in interviews and on book tour, you will continue to sell when people ask, “What’s your book about?” Don’t say, “About 300 pages.” A short, standard pitch to fall back on will save you lots of grief.

Gird your loins, chicks and dudes. Next week we will dissect what information goes into your elevator pitch.

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