Elevator Pitches that Go to the Top Floor: Part 5/5–Delivered With Love

Today we put the whole she-bang together and look at how to deliver your well-crafted, long sweated-over elevator pitch.

Do you know who this is? If you’re writing YA, you should. All others may disregard.

The elevator pitch is a great foundation for a query letter and a handy tool for participating in #pitchmad and other contests. But its true function is QUERYING AGENTS/EDITORS IN PERSON.

Are your palms sweating?

Well dry ’em off and get in there, sister. Because pitching is one of the major reasons to attend a conference. Sure, there are great workshops, and the camaraderie of other writers is always spiffy. But if you’ve got a manuscript ready to go, don’t pass up any opportunity to make a connection with an editor/agent.

They expect to be pitched.

If they don’t, then they are the ones who don’t understand why they’re there, not you. However, there are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Do not pitch somebody in the bathroom. I know, it sounds like an old joke, but this has really happened. I even heard of one poor male editor who was handed a manuscript while he was…well. You know.
  • Don’t follow an agent/editor around like a lovesick adolescent. It’s frickin’ scary. Make your pitch, shake hands, move along.
  • Don’t monopolize the editor’s/agent’s time. Other people want a chance at ’em, too.
  • Go to one of the workshops the agent/editor is presenting. Heck, you might decide he/she isn’t a good fit after all. But if things still look good, you’ll have something to open a conversation with, like, “I really enjoyed your talk on picture books, they’re getting shorter and shorter, aren’t they? AND I JUST HAPPEN TO HAVE A 31-WORD PICTURE BOOK IN MY BACK POCKET YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN.”
  • Don’t present them with a hard-copy of your manuscript. I am aware that my example included that very item, but that was comedic effect. Ho. Ho.


Now let’s get to the actual delivery of your elevator pitch:


  1. Don’t read your pitch. Yes, you’re nervous. Yes, you’re afraid you’ll forget something. That’s why you practice your pitch on your significant other, kids, dogs, friends and strangers until it is burned into your soul. Because using a cheat sheet gives the appearance that you don’t know your own story.
  2. Don’t chant your pitch. Memorize it, but don’t sound like you’re reciting on the shores of Giche Gumee. Try for a conversational tone.
  3. Be ready for questions. And be stoked for them! Because that means the editor/agent has some interest, and wants to see if the story goes in a good direction.
  4. Say, do, wear something memorable. Because when the agent/editor asks to see your manuscript, you’ll want to have some tidbit you can put in your cover letter to remind her of who you are.

Why do you think I’ve got blue hair?

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