Monthly Meeting: April 2024 – Author and Editor Britta Jensen

Created May 02, 2024 by Laurent Sewell

Texas: Austin

“You Can Pitch Your Work & Not Break Out in Hives,” said author and editor Britta Jensen, at Austin Chapter’s April meeting. Using an interactive approach and specific, engaging exercises, Britta examined how to create written and spoken pitches for conferences, bookselling, and public speaking. Among other books, Britta is author and editor of MIXED BAG OF TRICKS (Murasaki Press, 2023) and YA novel ELOIA BORN, followed by the sequel, HIRANA’S WAR. Check out her Member Interview.

Meeting Highlights:

– “It’s all about the feelings!” Think over your feelings about pitching, to identify what obstacles you may have and how to overcome them.

– “Bravery!” Ask yourself: “What is a positive, healthy and holistic way of seeing my work?”

– “Let go!” To combat nerves: learn to let go of fear; practice deep breathing exercises.

– The Pitch = Distilling down to the heart of your main character’s biggest desires and greatest obstacles –OR– An exploration of existing archetypes that people will be familiar with in a new setting & scenario that you have created.

– The Pitch requires knowing your story inside and out.

Think in terms of A meets B, then C occurs, what/how/when will A

and B discover X? Can A and B finally Y?

Ask yourself: what are the main threads of my main character’s journey/

objective/desires that will initially interest readers?

–Pitch Advice:

1. First, write down your pitch, then practice saying it.

2. Create three versions and discuss with someone who has read

your whole book.

3. Tweak the pitch for different requests/submissions, but keep

three versions accessible.

4. Memorize one pitch.

5. Pitch only one stand-alone book; do NOT pitch a series (you may mention series potential).

–Longer Pitch Advice:

Lead with the hook (from your 25-30 word pitch) and add a sentence at a time based on agent engagement; add your character’s next stake; think in terms of tension and connection.

–Formal Pitch Advice: 

1. Introduce yourself.

2. Go straight to your pitch (1-3 sentences).

3. If pitch is memorized, you may still bring note cards for assurance.

4. Notice agent expressions.

5. If agent asks to see pages, take their business card/ask how to contact.

6. Remember agents are people too! Lead with warmth; close professionally and respectfully.

–Informal Pitch Advice:

1. Begin with typical conversation.

2. If you feel a connection forming, you may ask if you can pitch your idea.

3. Observe expressions as you talk.

4. If they tell you, “I don’t rep,” stop talking and withdraw.

5. If they ask for more, keep talking 1-2 more sentences, but do NOT oversell!

6. If they ask to see pages, take their business card/ask how to contact.

7. Politely disengage and wish them a great conference; Respect their time and do not approach in restrooms or when eating lunch, etc.

–Remember: Agents expect for authors and illustrators to talk to them; they are looking for sellable story threads that have nothing to do with quality of delivery, so be kind to yourself.

–Exercises and Examples: Attendees practiced pitches with partners on site and several pitch examples were provided and discussed.