The best thing you can do for your career as a writer is go to a conference. Conferences not only give writers a chance to talk to agents and editors, they allow people who are otherwise somewhat isolated to make connections.
And making connections is what this business is all about.
(See Shmooze or You Lose for how to find conferences in your area.)
7 Tips for Pitching to an Agent or Editor at a Conference
By Peggy Eddleman, Writer's Digest, January 18, 2014
I'll admit: I was scared to death to live-pitch my book the first time, and I almost didn't. I figured I was better with words on a page, so I'd just query the agents I met at conferences. I am a huge proponent of pitching your book in person to an agent, though, because it's incredibly beneficial.
Here are seven tips to keep in mind:
Tip #1: If you can get a pitch session with an agent/editor, do it!
Agents get tons of queries every single day, and a good 90% of them come from people who haven't worked very hard to perfect their craft. Agents know that if you go to conferences, you're likely in the 10% who have. If you go to a conference and pitch, you're likely a top 10% writer who has a book close to being worthy of representation. It also gives both of you a chance to meet each other, and that's invaluable.
Tip #2: If you don't register in time to schedule a pitch session, get on a waiting list.
Pitch sessions fill up quickly. People get nervous, though, or don't get their book ready in time, so they cancel often. They shouldn't, but they do, and this is good for anyone who is on the waiting list.
Tip #3: Figure out what you want to cover during your pitch session.
Don't memorize a script, but do memorize the points you want to cover. Then you can talk like a normal person about it. And definitely practice talking like a normal person about it to everyone who will listen. The more comfortable you feel when talking about your book, the better your pitch session will go.
Tip #4: Go with other questions in mind.
I speed-talked my way through my first pitch session, because when I'm nervous I don't ramble - I leave things out. So my pitch was done in less than 30 seconds. After asking me a few questions, the agent requested my full. Then she said, "Do you have any questions for me?" I hadn't thought about questions for her! I sat there, feeling awkward, said, "Um.... Nope?" then shook her hand and left, with seven minutes of our meeting unused.
Don't do what I did! Use that time to ask about their agenting style. Ask about the industry. Ask about the process. Ask about craft. Ask questions about your plot. Ask about anything writing related. Chat. See how your personalities mesh. Just don't leave seven minutes early. You paid for that time- use it .
Read the rest of these valuable tips here.