Publishing Tips

How To Pitch Your Book

There are different types of pitches writers must develop so they can talk coherently about their book when asked.

Superman's Elevator Pitch


The most used pitch is an elevator pitch–so-called because it’s a quick description of your book that can be used in an elevator or another locale when someone asks what your book is about.

I took a workshop a few years back on the three types of pitches. The first is an elevator pitch (25 words), the second is 100 words (an agent can use to explain to an editor over the phone) and the third is the dust jacket narrative–about 250 words that can be used on the book cover or  for an editor to sell to at a publishing house committee meeting to decide its worth for publishing.

Below are some examples from my book “The Big Bluff.” In the 250 word version I used “a beautiful redhead with freckles in just the right places.” I liked this line to describe Maxine and started using it in my verbal pitches to friends, family and agents and they all smiled or gave some positive response to my book. I’ve used this line ever since.

Premise in 25 Words (Count Them)

Max Starr walks into an empty detective agency instead of an employment office and pretends to be a private investigator to impress a beautiful redhead.

Premise in 100 Words

Max Starr mistakenly enters an empty detective agency instead of an employment office and meets an exciting redhead named Maxine Andrews. Her beauty and his poor judgment lead him into pretending he’s private investigator and taking her case.

Of course, he thought it would be easier. He didn’t know Maxine had stolen a cloning formula and was being chased by a horde of criminals desperate to get it back.

He hopes to avoid jail, solve a murder, win Maxine’s heart, and rely on her martial arts skills to live long enough to solve his first case of The Vampire Cloners.

Premise 250 Words

Unemployed Maxwell Starr stumbles into the empty office of a private investigator by mistake and meets Maxine Andrews, a redhead with the cutest freckles in just the right places. She’s the first woman to catch his eye since he divorced his cheating wife.

And it seems logical that the best way to be near Maxine is to help her, and he bluffs his way into her case, convincing himself he can pay off a former boyfriend for some risqué photos.

However, the money for the payoff turns out to be a packet with a cloning formula, and the boyfriend is a FBI agent. Maxine stole the formula from a Hong Kong crime lord before he could sell it to China.

Now, the crime lord, his wicked daughter, and a Chinese agent are after her. A sinister figure inside the FBI also wants the formula, and when Maxine’s FBI agent ex-boyfriend turns up dead, Max is the chief suspect.

The rookie private investigator learns the ropes the hard way. He’s beaten up, kidnapped, drugged, shot, and kissed by Maxine. Not a bad job when you factor in the kiss, he reasons. How can he tell Maxine he isn’t a Private Investigator, thwart the criminals, elude jail time for impersonating a P.I., solve a murder, and get the girl in the end?  This wasn’t in his job description.

If he can win Maxine’s heart and rely on her martial arts skill, he might live long enough to solve this case.

  1. Diane J. Kramer says:

    Thank you for the information.

  2. Don Weston says:

    You’re Welcome Diane. Be sure and check out Leonard Elmore’s 10 rules of writing, talked about in my latest post.

  3. torivictoria says:

    Thanks for the info, have book marked this page. Looking forward to do some pitching in the very near future.

    • Don Weston says:

      Good Luck. I would also recommend subscribing to publishers marketplace if you are querying. It costs $25 a month, but you can stop it at any time. I use it to find out who has actually sold my genre in the last couple of years. A lot of agents claim to represent mystery, but I found out through PM that most of them really don’t. No sense in pitching to people who really don’t represent your type of book.
      Check out my web page at as I will posting more on it in the future.

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