People call these many different things. Sell sheets and one-sheets are the most common that I’ve heard though.
And I’ve seen a TON of different suggestions about these, so I’ve concluded that there is no right or wrong way to do them.
But, some may be asking, what in the world am I talking about?
A one-sheet is a piece of paper that gives an overview of the book you are pitching. Basically it has the pertinent information to give the person who is looking it over a snapshot of the project. Usually it is enough for an agent/editor to say, “Hmmm, this could be a good story. Tell me more.” or “Uh, yeah, NO.”
Many newbie writers use these sheets as lifelines, as I did last year (see last weeks post for the detailed humiliating experience.) But more than that, they can be a cheat sheet for the agent/editor (I had one editor take mine back with them last year… but don’t count on that happening. Usually they don’t like carrying extra paper around.)
Note: I don’t think this is a do or die thing for a conference. If you have a great verbal pitch, you may not need a one-sheet at all. A visual is nice… but not required.
Okay, if I’ve convinced you to create a one-sheet as part of your conference preparation, here are a few notes on creating one:
- Keep it professional! Some people have a one-sheet that is very simple and gives info only, others use a publication design software such as Microsoft Publisher to snaz theirs up a bit. Either way is fine, as long as you aren’t adding a bunch of clip-art that makes it look like something a Kindergarten teacher would create for their students. Not saying clip-art is bad… just make it tasteful and professional.
- White space is your friend. Or whatever background color you have… The point is, this is NOT a newspaper where you need to fill every spot with a picture or text. A good advertisement, which really, a one-sheet is advertising your book, leaves white space because it’s more pleasing to the eye.
- Entice. In keeping with the ad theme… a one-sheet should entice your reader to want more. Unlike the proposal, it doesn’t have to give away the ending. It should grab the editor and make them go, “Wow, this sounds like it could be a winner!” This is one of the areas someone might disagree with me on though… but to me, the details of your story on your one-sheet should be similar to the 2-3 paragraph back cover copy.
- Inform. Make sure you include the required details. Your one-sheet should include a bio, contact info, agent info if applicable, genre, word count length, and status (hopefully completed…). Some suggestion including market comparisons and such on there, but I personally have that in the proposal and didn’t feel like it needed to go there. But I so could be wrong, so use your best judgment.
- Lure them in. Your “one-liner”, different from your elevator pitch, should be center stage, as should your catchy title. We’ll talk about one-liners a different week I think, but it should be a catchy sentence of phrase that makes someone want to read what it’s all about.
- The lipstick treatment. This will work, especially if you are pitching to a male, and you’re a female. Put a GOB of lipstick on and put little kiss marks all over it. A sure fire way to get a contract. (totally teasing here…)
- Be true to your Style. Both your design, your “one-liner” and your copy should reflect your style and genre. If you write a light-hearted contemporary romance with zero suspense, you don’t want something with dark, serious colors, bold statements and gripping prose. On the other hand, don’t decorate your suspense one-sheet with daisies and funny tag-lines.
- Picture. Not a MUST, but I think your picture on a one-sheet is a good idea. Not a do or die thing though.
- Don’t spend too much time on it. Seriously, if you are doing your one-sheet instead of writing or working on your pitch, limit your time on it. This shouldn’t be something that takes you days to work on and eats into your time doing other important things.
- What about the back? I leave mine blank. Some put info on their other books, especially if they’re proposing a series. Others put their biography there (if you’re lucky enough to have a full-page biography… well, don’t tell me, cause then I’m totally jealous!
Discussion: Questions? Comments? Anything you disagreed with? Please feel free to add your thoughts! I planned to put my one one-sheet out here for you all to view, but didn’t get it done in time. I have last years, but… well… yeah, I want to redo it.
Marybeth asked to see a few examples, so here are some links that I could quickly find. Two are by Kaye Dacus (I reviewed her Menu for Romance not long ago…), one is a link to Dineen Miller’s website who is a professional graphic designer and does AWESOME work (Sandi Green… you’ll see featured on her page… is one of my crit partners!)
AND I uploaded my one-sheet from LAST year. I did lots of things wrong on my last year, so maybe take it as a what NOT to do… but will give you a general idea. (I couldn’t find my original publisher document to take off my now in-valid e-mail address and cell number… please don’t find it funny to start calling me at will, kay!?!)