A couple of nights ago, a Facebook acquaintance—who used to work at one of the major literary agencies—offered to help me with my agent search and asked what Julius was about. I’m embarrassed to admit that I gave her the worst elevator pitch.

As you can tell by my posts, I’m a bit long-winded, I meander along and easily get on a tangent that is completely unrelated as proven by September Song. But I’m happy to say that I am improving and when I get that pull to go down a different path, I rein myself in and keep on track.

So what makes a good elevator pitch? After a quick search I found that many the tips really catered more to business ventures, but in Sisters in Scribe: Three YA writers on the road to publication nicely summed it up as:

  • One or two sentences (three maximum) that provide the story’s summary and that leads an agent or editor to ask questions.
  • Be specific and avoid cliches
  • Use strong, active verbs and voice
  • The main character(s) should be identified in the pitch as well as the obstacle he/she/they face.

Okay <deep breath> here it is:

Marxists Corinne Sand and Jake Wells, publishers of Julius, become the obsessive target of attack by a conservative blogger and his followers. The situation worsens when the couple is scrutinized by Homeland Security and the FBI after a story, “Marxist Intifada,” is leaked. When questioned, Jake and Corinne realize the paranoia of the Red Scare is still alive in the 21st century and they’re forced to make a choice: fight for their first amendment rights or leave the country.

It didn’t start off that tight, but after three hours of tweaking I have my three sentence or a 79 word elevator pitch. And now that I have one tiny part of this excruciating long process complete, I feel very satisfied.

What do you find more difficult to write: the query, the synopsis or the elevator pitch?

8 Comments

  • What do you find more difficult to write: the query, the synopsis or the elevator pitch?

    For me, the amount of time, sweat, blood, and tears each of those requires is inverse to their length. For me, the synopsis is far easier (but by no means easy) than the query, which is not nearly as difficult as getting it all down to a sentence or two!

    • I think what’s hard is what to determine to put in the synopsis and query letter and what to leave out. In the e.p. I left out a lot, but only put in the gist of each part of the story: launch magazine, get harassed, learn that McCarthy tactics still exist and are forced to make a decision.

      I’ll try my hand at the synopsis and query in January since I am reworking everything starting in December.

    • Thanks for stopping by Sherry! Yeah, it was hard but now it’s done. One less thing to think about. And writing these short blurbs is terrific practice in tightening up the work. However, I’m still dreading the other two…

  • Without a doubt the query is the most difficult for me. The elevator pitch has to be tight, but it is also less formal. The synopsis gives you more wiggle room to play around with. The query letter is plain evil.