Elevator Pitches that Go to the Top Floor: Part 2/5–Eight Things Every Pitch Should Convey

Alrighty, then. Now that you see the wisdom in creating an elevator pitch that you can whip out in a crisis, (such as serendipitously sharing a taxi ride to the airport with Arthur Levine), let’s talk about what information your pitch needs to convey.

Whew. That was a long sentence.
Whew. That was a long sentence.

Getting right to it…


  1. Title–an interesting title can pique an editor/agent’s interest before she/he even hears the premise.
  2. Genre–don’t stop with “MG” or “YA”, let him/her know if it’s a mystery, romance, etc.
  3. Age and sex of your protagonist–the agent/editor doesn’t need the character’s name at this point. Hit her/him up front with the information that will let him/her decide which age group the story would be marketed to. (PB, YA and MG cover a lot of ground.)
  4. Word count–so the editor/agent can see you’re in the ballpark. And you’re a professional who understands industry standards.
  5. The Main Conflict–don’t go into any subplots or convoluted relationship explanations, they’ll only muddy the waters. Your main plot should be interesting enough to grab attention.
  6. The Stakes–problems are a lot more interesting when you know what calamity will befall the character if he doesn’t succeed.
  7. The Genius–what is it that makes your story unique? Is it the setting, a plot twist, a character trait, bizarre antagonist? The agent/editor wants to know what separates your manuscript from the rest in her/his slushpile.
  8. Voice–inject a bit of the tone of your manuscript. If it’s humorous, then be funny. Let the editor/agent get a taste of your writing.

“But Lisha,” you cry, “how will I ever get all this information into a few sentences?”

Ah, do not worry my little pets. Next time, I will give you a formula to make all your wildest dreams come true.

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