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Peter Decaprio: Writing the Perfect Elevator Pitch

Peter Decaprio: Writing the Perfect Elevator Pitch

(Maximize your chances of catching the eye of journalists, publishers, literary agents and readers by crafting the perfect pitch. Here are some pointers.) says Peter Decaprio

Every writer wants to get his or her book in front of the most people possible. And when it comes to promoting your book, nothing works better than a pitch. Let’s face it: No matter how great your work is, if you don’t pitch your idea properly, you’ll miss out on readers and sales. This isn’t just about selling books; pitching can also bring new opportunities for marketing and self-promotion.

Forgotten Realms author R.A. Salvatore says: “I know that publishers and editors often say they want writers to pitch them their ideas,” but he adds that the bottom line is “you won’t get anyone’s attention until you show them what you’ve got.” What editors and agents want is a “two-minute sell.”

Less than two minutes? How is that possible, you ask?

It is, and here’s how:

  • The most effective pitch for your novel or memoir is no more than one sentence. That is the first sentence of your query letter and the last sentence of your book proposal.
  • Writing a great pitch takes practice and thought. You’ll need to hone it so it delivers enough information to intrigue readers but not so much as to confuse them with unnecessary details — because we all know they will read no further if what you write doesn’t grab them, making them wonder about the story within those covers that they never knew existed until now.
  • A good way to start working on this one-sentence pitch is to ask yourself what your book is about. If you can’t answer that question, chances are good no one else will be able to either, so start thinking!

What’s The Story About?

To get you started, here are 20 examples of pithy pitches by 20 sci-fi and fantasy authors. Each pitch captures the essence of its story in fewer than 25 words says Peter Decaprio. Study them carefully; they’re gold dust for any writer looking for inspiration:

The future is a dark place when the Great War never ended…

Every year, young men are recruited to fight in an endless war. This is Joss’s last year—and he’s turned his back on survival, until he meets Mila. She makes him want to live again. A sci-fi/dystopian series about one man’s journey home across a post-apocalyptic America.

Little Red Riding Hood has nothing on this little girl who goes into the woods…

A fairy tale for adults about a little girl who has to make three choices, which lead her through magical lands filled with witches, ogres and goblins. It’s up to her whether she finds her way or becomes lost forever in this dark fantasy.

A trickster god, an exiled thief and a young kingdom’s fate hang in the balance…

When the king is betrayed and killed, his daughter sets out to fulfill her father’s quest. But first she must find the three keys that will allow her to open the treasure box—and learn what it takes to become queen. A fantastical adventure about sisterhood, love, betrayal and secrets.

The war between good and evil has raged for centuries on Earth…

Life as we know it changed forever when Hell erupted onto the streets of Rome in 2020 AD during World War III. Now demons walk among us—and fight against us—in this post-apocalyptic tale set in near-future America that reveals how far people will go to survive.

She’s an American heiress hiding in England…

A romance about a young woman hiding from her past in Victorian England who falls for a wounded warrior—but will the secrets that brought them together destroy them in the end?

In two worlds, two women struggle to find their place…

When she discovers another realm where humans are enslaved by evil elves, a farm girl must fight for freedom in this high fantasy adventure. Emily Rodda is a bestselling Australian author of children’s and YA fantasy novels. Her books have sold 10 million copies worldwide and been translated into multiple languages. She has written more than 30 novels, including Deltora Quest and Rowan of Rin series. In 1993 her book The Red Wind won the Children’s Book Council of Australia award for “Picture Book of the Year” and in 2001 her book Rowan of Rin.


Reconsider the standard one-sentence pitch. This great one-sentence pitch has helped that young adult author sell over 30 books explains Peter Decaprio.

Picture Books are another example of how good pitches can succeed with less than 25 words. If you can’t fit your short story or novel into a single sentence, consider using a logline instead.