The Elevator Pitch is that fabled 1-minute pitch you can rattle off whenever you find yourself in the company of someone who can help you publish your book: an editor, an agent, a published writer, etc. Whether you’re at a pitch slam or a hotel bar or in an actual elevator, you should be able to tell anyone and everyone what your book is about, and how yours is different anytime, anywhere in 60 seconds (and in 100 words) or less.

This elevator pitch will serve as the basis of your pitch, which you can then expand on for a query letter or a conversation with a publishing professional. Get this foundation right, and the rest will come easily.

Elevator pitch formula

Your pitch should incorporate as many of the following elements as possible:

  • Title
  • Word Count
  • Type of Book (mystery, memoir, self-help, etc.)
  • Comparable Titles (recently published successful books similar to yours)
  • Main Action (plot/big idea)
  • Emotional Impact (theme/promise to reader)
  • Unique Selling Proposition (USP/what differentiates your story in the marketplace)

Example of an elevator pitch

Here’s a pitch for the bestselling novel The Art of Racing in the Rain:

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is a 100,000-word upmarket novel [title, word count, genre] in the tradition of Paul Auster’s Timbuktu and David Wroblewski’s The Story of Edgar Sawtelle [comps], about a dog who watches over his human racecar driver Denny and his family with great care—even more so when tragedy strikes. [plot] Told from the point of view of the dying dog Enzo [USP], this heartwarming and heartbreaking story shows us that life, like racing, is not just about going fast. [theme]

Now, use my elevator pitch formula to go write an elevator pitch for your own story. Keep it as short as possible and memorize it, so you can pitch it anytime anywhere. Seriously.

Now that’s a pitch!

I have a client who’s a physician who pitched his patient after an emergency appendectomy and optioned his story to a major studio. Let this be a lesson to you: Refine your elevator pitch, and be ready to pitch!

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