Monday, March 28, 2011

What is a ONE SHEET Anyway?

For those of you getting ready for a big writers conference you may have heard about the need for a One Sheet. This tool is also known as a Pitch Sheet. It’s a one page presentation of the project you’re pitching to an editor or agent. Today I’ll be explaining how to put one together.

Click here to see a pdf of one of mine. This one sheet led to multiple requests for proposal and full manuscripts. To answer your question, no, it’s not been published. I sent it out too soon and killed my chances—but that’s fodder for a future post!

There are three basic components of a one sheet—the project blurb, specifics about the project and the author’s bio—including a picture and contact info. We’ll take each component individually and explain what’s included.

The Project Blurb
For this section think back cover copy. This is NOT the place for a synopsis. You want this section to read like the blurb on the back cover of a book.

Project Specifics
This is where you give some of the details and they’re slightly different for fiction and non-fiction.
Fiction
  • Genre – like Romance or Suspense.
  • Manuscript Length – this doesn't have to be an exact word count, just an approximation.
  • Target Audience – every book should be written with an audience in mind. I know, we all think our book will appeal to a wide range of readers—and that may be true. But this tells the potential editor or agent how to market the book. It will help sell a publishing house on your manuscript by defining the reader you’re writing for.

*there isn’t a section here for completion date because it’s understood that a manuscript must be complete before it’s submitted. It’s okay to pitch an uncompleted manuscript with a one sheet, but it’s rare for anyone to look at it as a submission until it’s complete.

Non-Fiction
  • Projected Completion Date – the reason you don’t have a non-fiction manuscript completed is because publishers like to have a say in the overall concept.
  • Manuscript Length – since it’s not completed, this is just an estimate.
  • Target Audience – just like in fiction, you need to focus in on who specifically you’re targeting with this manuscript.

Author Info
This is where you need to include a personal bio, recent picture and contact information. A lot of writers hate composing a bio so later this week I’ll be posting a short How-to on writing bios. But the basics to consider are these:
A bio must be
  • Relevant
It must give you
  • Personality
  • Credibility
All of these individual components will give you an effective one sheet. Be sure to post any questions or comments you have.

Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

16 comments:

  1. Edie's info on the first timers loop for BRMCWC was so helpful last year. I also went to Kaye Dacus' website for visual examples of her one sheets. Most editors will want to see the one sheet. One editor for my second book did not—only wanted pitch and business card. Equation for great conference appointments? Dynamic pitch + business card/one sheet + market research = editor interest. Thanks, Edie for whipping us into shape in time for the conference season. I, too, am still waiting, hands folded in prayer, for The Call.

    Lisa Carter
    Sweet Tea with a Slice of Murder
    www.lisacarterauthor.com

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  2. Edie, Thank you - I so needed this right now! The link to your example won't work for me. It says I don't have permission to view the link. Would you be able to email it to me at kathi@growbarefoot.com?

    Thanks,
    Kathi Woodall

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  3. I think the link is working now. You do have to sign into Google to view it, but anyone who has the link has permission.
    If you have trouble viewing it, I'll be happy to email it to you,
    Blessings - E

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  4. And if you don't have a book or specific project to pitch? My bio will look pretty lonely on one sheet. ha!

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  5. Another great post! I remember when you and I started out at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and you came all prepared, complete with business cards and one-sheets, all organized into a neat notebook. Me? I came.

    But the next year, I followed your lead and had much more interest in my projects. Thanks!

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  6. Cathy, you're right, if you're not 'pitching' a specific project you don't need a one sheet - but you do need to be prepared to talk about your ideas and what you like to write!
    Vonda, you above all people, know I use all this to organize the most dis-organized person in the world - me!

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  7. One question, Edie. How do you estimate either the word count of a project or the completion date if it's your first one?

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  8. I love that one sheet. They are so quick to hand out, when time is an issue, too. Great info, again!

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  9. Excellent info for conference in the archives. Thanks!

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  10. Ok. I have a one sheet made up with all the info you mentioned, except one thing--the length of the project. I have no idea how to approximate that since I've never done anything like this before. Is it okay to leave it off? And if the editor asks about the length, what should I say?

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  11. Edie, I'd like to access the link for your one-sheet, too. Thanks for all your helpful information. I appreciate it, and will share with other writers in my group!

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  12. Replies
    1. I decide when I can finish a project. I try not to go too far out, usually 6 weeks to 4 months.

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  13. Your one-sheet has a graphic. is that generally a good idea to include? All my publications are magazine articles. Do I list the magazines?

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    1. Wendy, most do, but you don't have to at all. The graphic I chose was one from microsoft office clip art. It is important to include your picture, though. This helps editors/agents remember you.

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