Posted by: Phil Anderson | September 1, 2014

The Elevator Pitch

Imagine you’re a writer trying to find someone to publish your story. You go to a writers conference or a publishing convention where you can meet people and make connections. You step into an elevator and there, next to you, is your dream publisher or agent. He or she is a captive audience, at least for a minute or two. What will you say? Can you interest them in your book idea before the elevator door opens again? That is the essence of an elevator pitch.

Of course it’s useful not just for trying to sell your manuscript. When family or friends, or even acquaintances, hear you’re a writer and ask what you’re working on, you can’t narrate your whole story. You have to introduce the characters and give salient plot points quickly and concisely, before their eyes glaze over and their attention turns elsewhere.

As an example, here’s a pitch for my first novel, Pirate Journey (available on Amazon in print and Kindle editions):

      Dave Adams is a teenager standing at a crossroads in his life. He’s lonely, a bully in need of direction. Through the pages of an ancient, leather-bound journal, Dave makes contact with an ancestor, James Adams, captain of a seventeenth century sailing-ship.

      Captain Adams is also straddling a fence, and the life of an honest sea-going merchant pales in comparison to the excitement and opportunities available for a captain willing to do what it takes to get ahead.

      Will the captain’s decisions take him and his crew where they want to go? And how will those decisions affect Dave as he makes his way through high school and finds his first summer job? Pirate Journey explores the parallel lives of a scurvy sea captain and a high school bully as they make decisions and face the consequences of their choices, both good and bad.


I’ve decided it’s time to create an elevator pitch for my current work-in-process, Conquest of Theran, a YA fantasy series. Here’s the pitch for the whole four-book series:

The Kingdom of Theran is in turmoil. Anarchy and despotism reign, and King Boldur seems helpless to do anything about it. Phred is an educated minstrel, Sirah the daughter of a struggling farmer, and Arned an aspiring hero. Sharing a magical gem that gives them each a unique power, the three set out together to protect their king and their homeland from a bold and confident usurper named Stek, an invasion of foreign aggressors, and domestic infiltrators that threaten the security of the kingdom. As they fight to save Theran, they start to wonder if the best way to protect the kingdom is to destroy it.

And here’s my pitch for Conquest of the Theran: Book One – Overthrow:

Sirah and her family are simple farmers, oppressed by Overlord Dith. To make matters worse, Dith’s son Wesser is trying to force Sirah into an unwanted marriage. With two new friends, brave and handsome Arned and intelligent Phred, Sirah sets out for the capital to ask for the king’s help. Disappointment leads to danger when the three uncover a plot to overthrow the kingdom. Now they must face Dith and Wesser and their treacherous allies to protect the helpless king.

I need your input. Do these sound interesting, entertaining, dull, boring? Does it sound like something you’d like to read? Is there anything in the pitch I can clarify or improve on? Leave comments below.



  1. […] or futuristic dystopia novels out there trying to ride each others’ waves.) Similarly to the Elevator Pitch I described last week, the description can’t give too much away, but needs to give enough […]

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