• May 2010
    M T W T F S S
    « Apr   Jun »
  • Top Posts

  • Categories

  • feedburner

  • Follow me on Twitter

  • Advertisements

Advice on literary agent pitches or elevator pitches from Rachelle Gardener, Literary Agent.

Advice on literary agent pitches/elevator pitches from Rachelle Gardener, Literary Agent.

From her blog at Rants and Ramblings


Secrets of a Great Pitch:


Rachelle recommends starting with a bit of context or background, then telling about the book. Start with your name and whether your work is fiction or nonfiction.

Include the following information:

  • My name is _____ and I wanted to meet with you because _____.
  • I’m writing ______ (what genre).
  • My publishing history includes _____(number of books, genres).
  • Today I want to tell you about my book called _____ .
  • This book won the _____ award (if relevant).
  • My tagline is _____ (20 words or so that capture your book).

Then go into your pitch – 2 to 3 minutes max, allowing time for the agent or editor to ask questions. Also prepare 1-minute pitch, the so-called elevator pitch.

Some guidelines:

→ Don’t try to tell the whole story. Start with the plot catalyst, the event that gets the story started.

→ Then give the set-up, i.e. what happens in the first 30 to 50 pages that drives the reader into the rest of the book. Include the pressing story question or the major story conflict.

→ Fill out your pitch with any of the following: plot elements, character information, setting, backstory, or theme. You want to include just enough information to really intrigue your listener. Note that your pitch doesn’t have to be all “plot.” If your story is more character driven, then fill out your pitch with interesting character details. If the setting is an important element, talk about that. If the backstory plays heavily, round out your pitch with that.

→ Finish by giving an idea of the climactic scenes and the story resolution.

→ Try not to tell too much of the story in the pitch. The pitch is supposed to get somebody interested, not tell the whole story. Stick to the high points, but be sure to tell enough that you don’t leave your listener confused.

→ Include only a couple of characters.

→ Include one plot thread, or two if they’re closely intertwined.

Be prepared to answer questions that could include things like:

→ How does your story end?

→ What published author’s style would you compare your writing to?

→ Who are your favorite authors in your genre?

→ Is this a series? And if so, what are the subsequent books about?

→ Have you worked with a critique group or a professional editor?

→ Have you pitched this to publishers in the past? If so, what was the response?

Rachelle says agents and editors are regular people just like us. And she emphasizes that they REALLY like chocolate.

The Elevator Pitch


Tell the story.   Not the character arc, not the emotional progression. She says the story is the plot–scenes with action and dialogue. It’s people going places and doing things and talking to other people. It’s characters taking action to make something happen, to change their situation, to solve a problem, to avoid danger.

In the words of her friend the Query Shark (agent Janet Reid), your pitch needs to show:

1. Who is the protagonist?

2. What choice does s/he face?

3. What are the consequences of the choice?

See some real-life pitches and Rachelle’s critiques at


More topics at this site include:

  • How to Title Your Book
  • Questions to Ask an Agent
  • How to Write a Book Proposal
  • How to Write a Query Letter
  • List of Writers’ Conferences
  • List of Freelance Editors

And much more . . . .

%d bloggers like this: