The folks at Algonkian have asked me to say a few words once more about the New York Pitch Conference held quarterly in New York City at Ripley-Greer Studios. I attended the workshops not long ago and found it a challenging and worthwhile adventure that improved my novel 100%. I'm still working on it, yes, but I'm a lightyear ahead of where I would have been without it.
They use the pitch as a means of examining the novel and focusing on the major fictional elements. As Michael Neff says, "If they're not in the pitch, they're not in the novel." It's a great way of making you realize that market and story are meshed together in ways you never realized.
I highly recommend the New York Pitch Conference to anyone serious about writing a novel for the commercial market.