Mastering the Elevator Pitch: Tips from Bestselling Authors
Mastering the elevator pitch is a must for published and unpublished authors alike. Put simply, an elevator pitch is a quick set of sentences that describe your novel and intrigue the listener. If you were to enter an elevator with an interested literary agent, for example, how would you describe your manuscript in the time between entering and exiting the elevator?
This pitch is an excellent marketing tool to have under your belt. After all, the more people you have interested in your novel, the better. However, crafting an effective elevator pitch can be tricky. While brainstorming your pitch, you may be wondering: Which details should be included in the pitch? Do we reveal the ending? Where do I even start? If this is you, keep reading. We’ve gathered our best tips on how to master the elevator pitch, based on our own experiences pitching to agents and editors. We hope this helps!
1) Keep your pitch as concise as possible.
Your pitch should be no longer than 50 words. Our rule of thumb is if we can’t say the pitch in one breath, it’s too long. Concision is always key.
2) Don’t spoil the story.
While it may be tempting to recount the entirety of your plot, you’ll want to avoid revealing what happens in your story. Rather, you’ll want to simply hook the listener. When crafting your pitch, think of what would make someone want to read your story outside of your plot points.
3) Engage the listener.
The elevator pitch should, more than anything, keep the listener engaged. Bonus points if their eyes open wide. Think of the elevator pitch like the book’s tagline. We recommend looking up your own favorite books’ taglines and seeing how the authors capture their story in a concise manner. Our favorite taglines are A Song of Ice and Fire’s “Winter is Coming” or The Hunger Games’ “Winning will make you famous. Losing means certain death.”
4) Pare your pitch down one line at a time.
It’s difficult (and nearly impossible) to come up with the perfect elevator pitch on your first go. We recommend first writing 10 sentences that capture your story/plot points. Then lock the pitch in your drawer until the next day, where you’ll pare the 10 sentences down to five. Repeat the exercise for two more days and pare down the pitch from five to three lines, and eventually down to one line. There’s your pitch!
Enjoy these tips? Check out other posts by The Scribbler Team, such as our Bestselling Authors’ Guide to Writing a Synopsis or How to Write a Query Letter: Tips from Bestselling Authors.
Victoria Scott started Scribbler in 2017 after traditionally publishing an impressive number of books with companies like HarperCollins Harlequin Scholastic and Macmillan. Victoria is an Uber-hailing city girl who is passionate about writing and helping other writers find their voice.