I might have the opportunity to pitch my book at a super cool local event with some agenty types. It's a long story, which I'll spare you, but I thought this would be a great idea to talk about the difference between a pitch and a query, and there is a difference.
In my misspent youth, I participated in something called the National Forensic League. Despite your expectation that I was off solving murders, I was actually competing each weekend in dramatic competitions. The basic idea was a one man show included a 30-45 second intro, which had to give boil down the whole play (of which I was doing only 10 minutes) for the audience and get their attention. Why do you need to know this? Because I was pretty damn good, so believe me when I tell you the most important thing in a live pitch is your hook. The second? Your ability to present/perform.
That's right. The second most important thing when thinking specifically about your pitch is how you present it, not the script you've written. Here's why (put away your pitch forks!), you're a writer. I assume you can write! That's the easy part. How you sell yourself is much harder.
So let's break it down:
The Script - unless you are an amazing off-the-cuff speaker, write something out and read it/memorize it.
It should contain a hook, what the book's about, stats, and an elevator pitch to wrap it up.
Hook - Think tagline or teaser. Study covers, blurbs, movie boxes, etc. Choose a suck-your-breath in line from your MSS or come up with a slogan for your book. Your first words should get your audience's attention and keep it!
A very brief description of the book and its genre.
An elevator pitch to wrap it up...For instance, Harry Potter is Lord of the Rings meets Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Presentation - you should keep your script short enough to be read in 50 seconds (give yourself leeway for laughter, pauses, unforeseen natural disasters) in a casual, well-paced tone. Do not try to speed read unless your book is a manual on learning to speed read. Make eye contact and be confidant - you are the expert on your book!
Best of luck!