The conventional way you interest an agent or publishing house editor in your book is via a query letter.
If the agent or editor likes your query, he’ll ask for a proposal, which is three chapters and a synopsis if you’re writing fiction, and if you’re writing nonfiction – an overview, outline, marketing goals and commitments, and a chapter.
A more direct method is pitching your book via a writers’ conference, or a pitch conference, at which you meet agents and editors and pitch your book, hoping to get a reading.
The Quick Pitch reports: “Hundreds of participants at The Maui Writers Conference claim they have found agents and editors. Jean M. Auel, author of The Clan of the Cave Bear, was discovered at the Willamette Writers Conference, and romance novelist Rona Sharon is a Writer’s Digest Books Pitch Slam success story. ‘I met an agent during the pitch session, signed a contract and in four months, had a two-book deal,’ Sharon says.”
Will a pitch conference work for you?
I can’t offer advice based on experience, because although I’ve attended writers’ conferences, I’ve never used one to pitch a book.
Based on what I know about writers however, I’d recommend going the conventional route of a query letter, and then a proposal. Yes, it can take forever to get a response, but pitching in person is nerve-wracking.
If you’re not an experienced presenter, and are used to giving business presentations, it can be disastrous for the book you’re pitching – you may not be able to present your book as it should be presented. Many writers are better on the page than they are in person; that’s one of the reasons they’re writers and not actors and actresses.
Here’s my suggestion: if you want to go to a pitch conference, by all means go. But go for the experience of the conference: meeting writers, agents and editors, and soaking up the atmosphere of professional publishing. A conference will teach you so much that it’s valuable, whether or not you present your book adequately.
You’ll write many books – go to conferences, and pitch if you wish, but realize that one book doesn’t make a career, and there are plenty more where that one came from. 🙂