Going Up: Preparing Your Elevator Pitch

I climbed into the van at the airport and realized I was sitting next to an editor. When she discovered we were attending the same event, she asked, “What’s your book about?”

Ten minutes later I was still explaining and the editor sat glassy-eyed. Thankfully, I learned from my mistake, discovering three simple principles to a successful elevator pitch.


  1. Natalie Nyquist says

    My pitches: In The Destined a teenage girl is transported from our world to a medieval fantasy kingdom where she finds herself on a slave ship in an adventure in which Narnia meets “Beauty and the Beast.”

    Behind the Glass Wall explores mental illness through the eyes of a twenty-something mom. Recounting a decade long journey through hospitalization and counseling, this memoir offers reflections on living gracefully in the midst of suffering.

  2. Suzie Eller says

    In your first pitch, it’s too vague, especially where you refer to Narnia and Beauty of the Beast. I have a feeling you are so comfortable and familiar with your topic, that this makes sense to you, but it might sail over the head of an editor. WHO: What is your character’s name? How old is she (teen is vague and may address more than one market)?

    PS: Eliminate words like “she finds herself”. Speak in an active voice, rather than passive.

    Fourteen-year-old Sophie is transported from New York City to a 16th century medieval fantasy kingdom. She is captured as a slave and forced to sail to the dungeons of Fredoria. Her captor, Thunder Blackjaw, becomes her ally. Sophie strives to find her way home, but fears she’ll leave her heart behind.

    The above is brief and address the WHO, the what is the SITUATION, and the heart of the CONFLICT in the overall story.

    Your second pitch is much more compelling. It addresses WHO will benefit, as well as what value they will take away. Be prepared for follow up questions!

  3. says

    When Livi joins her family’s small-town business at Wilson’s Florist, she doesn’t count on servicing the funeral of a dear family friend–or on navigating the flood of painful memories that his death releases. Guilt and grief soon press her between childhood and adult tragedies, and she blames God for it all, trusting alcohol over prayer. Livi knows the strong and whacky Wilson’s Florist gang delivers far more than flowers, but when she needs delivery, can she drop her defenses to accept this life-changing gift?

  4. Carmen E. Richards says

    Hi Suzy,
    Thanks for the instruction–it is so good. Here is my stab at a pitch for the memoir I am writing. Let me know what you think. Look forward to seeing you again at the conference. Blessings, Carmen

    What would you dare in order to escape the tyranny of communism?
    Cuba 1961: Betrayed by Fidel Castro, Captain LL and his young wife EL determine they must leave their homeland and bring their young daughters to safety in America. Will Luis survive the dangers of the Atlantic; will Elvira and her daughters escape the Castro regime after her husband is branded a traitor? This is the true story of one family’s courageous journey–coming to America and coming to faith in Jesus Christ.

  5. jean mccollum says

    my elevator pitch
    My book, “Breathing Fire: The Lost Journals of Eden,” is an imaginary journal of Adam. It is written as though Adam, the first man, kept a journal of the Genesis events while they were happening. Naming the animals, meeting Eve, falling, and the death are all recorded from Adam’s perspective. It is the story of redemption starting from the story of beginnings.

  6. says

    My pitch: Cornelia Simpson, a 17-year old farm girl on the Canadian Prairies in 1939, has hated God since her twelfth birthday, the day her mother died. Nearly seven decades later, Cornelia’s granddaughter, Cindy, 35, inherits her grandmother’s diaries and begins to discover the untold, heartbreaking events that transformed Cornelia from a bitter young woman, pregnant and alone, to the faith-filled woman Cindy knew. Coming at a time when Cindy’s own life is torn up with marital and financial strife, the discovery leads to healing and reconciliation in her family. What’s more, the faith expressed in one young woman’s diary plants seeds of hope across an entire city. “The Silver Suitcase” is a beautiful story of how God comes to find us in the middle of our fears, our shame, and our sorrows.

  7. says

    Never a woman to welcome change, Kaylan leaves everything behind in Alabama to spend a semester in poverty stricken Haiti. Despite inexperience and an undercurrent of voodoo, Kaylan develops a passion and love for the Haitian people. But something deadly is about to strike.

    Shaken to its very core, Haiti is devastated in the worst earthquake to hit on record. Her best friend is dead, and Kaylan is caught in the middle, questioning a God who said He is good.

    Can the love of a marine help Kaylan heal and show her the God who never left, or will the earthquake shake even the most rooted faith?

  8. says

    OK, here’s my second attempt. 50 words exactly!

    The Silver Suitcase follows the heartbreaking journeys of two women separated by three generations but connected by the secrets revealed in the diaries of the first. Cornelia Simpson is 17, alone and pregnant in 1939. What will her granddaughter, Cindy Watson, discover when she inherits the diaries seven decades later?

  9. says

    And an 86-word version, easily delivered in under a minute:

    The Silver Suitcase follows the heartbreaking and redemptive stories of two women separated by three generations but connected by the contents of an old silver suitcase. Cornelia Simpson, at 17 in 1939, is alone and pregnant. She has hated God since her twelfth birthday, the day her mother died. When her granddaughter, Cindy Watson, inherits Cornelia’s diaries after her death in 2006, they reveal secrets that lead Cindy on a journey of healing, reconciliation, and reunion in her own life, broken by marital and financial stress.

  10. says

    My book is a non-fiction work that speaks to the hearts of women who have either been victimized in some respect, or committed sins they feel are unforgivable. Both scenarios lead to misconceptions that drown out the voice of God. For example, when we are sinned against, we may feel justified in not forgiving and grow bitter in that process. When we have committed “unforgivable” sins, we may feel we are beyond redemption. As someone who has been on both sides of that fence, I want to use what God has shown me in my healing and teach others to apply it to their own lives.

  11. Kim Cordes says

    Thank you so much, Suzanne, for a great article and feedback on those who commented. I truly appreciate your heart to help!

  12. Emily Vazquez says

    Meredith White is a university graduate in a dead-end job and dead-end life. She sets out to teach English at a prestigious university in Mexico, but soon discovers that her job is on the line. Oscar Salinas, a powerful and corrupt politician, makes advances on her and promises job security. But Miguel Corro, a poor student who calls himself a Christian, offers her another way. Will Meredith take Oscar’s offer, potentially endangering her life? Or will she surrender to the God who changed Miguel and is pursuing her?

  13. Debbie Wilson says

    The Sweet Scent of Justice is the true story of how God miraculously worked in my life and the lives of others to solve my sister’s twenty-six year old murder case. It’s a story of discovering how forgiveness can be an even sweeter scent than justice itself.

    • says

      The Sweet Scent of Justice is a true story of my sister’s unsolved twenty-six year old murder case, and how God worked in my life when the case was solved. I discovered that forgiveness was more powerful than the long awaited justice.

      This is intriguing, but I don’t love your title. An editor might. : ) It seems misleading as you say in one sentence that forgiveness was the sweeter scent, and I had to ask “why use scent as a descriptive”?

      • Debbie Wilson says

        I can see why the title may seem a little misleading, but in the end, my sister’s killer was put in jail for stealing a bottle of cologne. That’s why I used the play on words. Thank you for your critique.

  14. Jenni says

    Here is my elevator pitch…

    When 17 year old Jordan Ambrose, finds out she is pregnant, she knows abortion is the answer. However, her conservative boyfriend’s family won’t allow it. That is, until she gets the diagnosis of special needs for her unborn child. She struggles with why abortion is ok if the child will have a disability and decides to give the baby up for adoption. When the adoptive family backs out after hearing the diagnosis, Jordan strives to find a family that believes this baby is worth choosing.

    What are some typical follow up questions an editor asks?
    Also, if there are 2 main characters who meet later in the book, do you typically only choose one when writing the elevator speech?


  15. says

    When teenager Jordan Ambrose finds out she is pregnant she knows abortion is the answer. Her boyfriend’s family won’t allow it, until they find out it is a special needs child. Struggling to understand, Jordan chooses adoption, and then they back out. Will she find someone to love her baby?

    The first had way too many unnecessary details. Cut to the heart of the conflict. To answer your questions, there are no typical follow up questions, as each editor is different.
    Your main character in this story would be the mother of the unborn child. You mentioned three other characters in your elevator speech. You can add more information as your editor asks questions.

  16. Nancy Gemaehlich says

    A Perfect Faith, a women’s Bible study, guides the reader on an adventure through the Book of James. Through James’ energetic style the reader will be challenged to discover the marks of a genuine faith at work. Some of the themes included are wisdom for navigating through temptations, pursuing true riches, and the importance of developing patient endurance. Additionally, the lesson format assists each woman in becoming comfortable and confident in the use of Bible study skills.

  17. Linda Gale Anderson says

    My Pitch – 128 words:

    In The Thwarting of Mr. Dingsnapple, Sweetie, a Toulouse goose’s dreams of hatching her first clutch of eggs are shattered by a mercenary zookeeper whose main interest is the money he can make from selling her eggs. While running interference, her best friends try to help her hide her nest so she can hatch her eggs before Mr. Dingsnapple can find them.

    On the surface, The Thwarting of Mr. Dingsnapple is the bitter struggle between these two and their interactions with other animals in the zoo. In reality, it is a forum for mother love, friendship, loyalty, betrayal, and overcoming incredible odds.

    If you appreciated the well-developed characters, believable dialogue, and suspense in E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web or Avi’s Poppy, you may appreciate The Thwarting of Mr. Dingsnapple.

  18. says

    Thanks for this information. I’d read about elevator pitches but was unsure what they should include. Now I can work on mine. How’s this?In “Melody’s Song,” when 40-ish widow Melody moves to the city, she wants only a peaceful life free from the nightmares that haunt her. Instead she is thrust into spiritual battles and must learn to trust God to calm her fears, redeem her son, and lead her neighbours to faith.

  19. Jon Neiser says

    Here’s my “Pitch”.
    Philosophers and scientists have come to the conclusion that there is more to our existence than what we perceive from our five senses. We are three dimensional beings that look down on the first and second dimensions as though we are far beyond such dimensional ants. Are we really so much above them? Is it possible that up to ten dimensions actually exist around us? If there are such dimensional possibilities, what exists there? While Birch Strossel would prefer to be left to a quiet life, he and his twin brother Jess, are about to be impacted, by something beyond their own existence in the hidden places of our universe.

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