Thursday, April 19, 2018

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 an example of a fiction one sheet. Click here to see an example of a nonfiction one sheet.  Both of these  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

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Honing Your Conference Pitch

Attending a writers conference can be a stressful undertaking—even for a seasoned writer. A lot of writers have gravitated toward our profession because we’re not comfortable with crowds, especially crowds of strangers.
That’s why I’m posting this series on writing conferences. It’s not to add to your stress—but to alleviate it. For me, when I know what to expect and am prepared, I’m less anxious. No one likes to feel like they're under the gun. I assume I’m not alone in this feeling.
So the first subject we’re going to tackle is the one that makes most writer’s stress levels spike off scale—pitching.
Over the years I’ve had people tell me they’re not worried about pitching—they’re just going to learn. Nice thought, but not based in reality. I hate to break it to you, but if you’re standing in line or sitting beside someone and they ask you what you’re writing, if you answer them, you’ve just delivered a pitch. I could post pages of stories from writers who wished they’d been prepared for this unassuming little scenario.
The idea behind a pitch is to get the person you’re talking with to ask for more.
Simple concept, harder to execute. So here are some of the do’s and don’ts of pitching.
Do
  • Set up an intriguing scenario.
  • Introduce your main character.
  • Give a hint about their situation and goal.
  • Tie in the disaster or obstacle to that goal.

Don’t
  • Go over 2 sentences—try to keep it to one sentence.
  • Answer all the questions the listener might have.
  • Substitute cleverness for specifics.
  • Give away the ending.

Now, here are some real life hooks or tag lines from popular movies. I’d love to read some of your favorites as well. 
  • "She brought a small town to its feet and a huge corporation to its knees." —Erin Brokovich
  • "To enter the mind of a killer she must challenge the mind of a madman." —Silence of the Lambs
  • "What if someone you never met, someone you never saw, someone you never knew was the only someone for you?" —Sleepless in Seattle 1993
  • “A businessman falls in love with a hooker he hires to be his date for the weekend” —Pretty Woman
  •  “When you can live forever, what do you live for?” —Twilight
  •  “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.” —Jaws 2
  •  “In space, no one can hear you scream.” —Alien 


Now it's your turn to chime in. Do you have any questions or is anyone brave enough to try their pitch out here?

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

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Prepare for a Writers Conference

Last Monday I posted a tongue in cheek Top Ten List of Reason's to Attend a Writers Conference. Then Thursday I gave you a rundown of how to Choose a Writers Conference. Today I'm going to get a little bit serious and share some of the things you may want to prepare before you go. I've written about reasons to attend a conference on this blog previously and I'll address what you'll need for two of those.
Networking
Networking is the easiest to prepare for. If you're just going to meet other writers and professionals the main thing you need is a good business card. Please take note, I said, good, NOT expensive.
These are the things a good writers business card includes:
  • Your picture - I know, I hate to have my picture taken and I always hate how it looks. But, in this business you need to be remembered and recognized and your picture is the best and easiest way to do that. If someone has a card with your picture on it, they'll remember who you are months longer than if it's just got your name. Also, it's harder to throw away a card with a picture on it than a card with just text on it.
  • The name you use when you write - if you use a psuedonym, be sure it's on the card. Here's an example (I just made up the names - they're not representative of a real person): Susie Stone, writing as Catherine Milo.
  • Your email address - this is going to be the main way others will contact you.
  • Your website or blog address - never pass up the opportunity to encourage new visitors to your sites. Also, many people will follow up on what you've told them and this will be a way for them to get to know you better.
  • Cell phone number - this isn't absolutely necessary, but it helps if your email goes down and someone has a hot lead for you.
Please take note of what is NOT included on a business card now. You do not need your physical address on the card. Actually, it's a liability. It can be dangerous to give out your home address, so if you feel you must include an address, invest in a PO Box.
It is possible to make your own business cards, using Avery brand sheets that go through your ink jet printer. The trick to successfully printing your own cards is to keep them simple! Another inexpensive way to go is by using VistaPrint. This online company is very reputable and I personally know a lot of writers who get their cards through them.
Bring some writing samples:
These are good to have simply because you'll probably find yourself in a group, or at a table, where everyone is sharing something they've written. It might not happen, but chances are, if you don't have anything to show, you'll be disappointed.
Pitching
This is when you attend a conference because you have something you want to sell to a publisher or if you want to get an agent. The things below that you'll need are specifically for those wishing to sell a fiction or non-fiction book.
It's important to keep in mind that everything you prepare for the conference to pitch a project is incremental in nature.
  • Your tag line or hook should make the editor or agent ask to hear more about your project (this is the time for the elevator pitch).
  • The elevator pitch should lead them to ask for your one sheet.
  • Your one sheet or pitch sheet should lead them to ask you to send them a proposal when you get home.
  • Your proposal should lead them to ask you to send them your entire manuscript.
  • Your entire manuscript should lead them to offer you a contract.
These are the generic steps in publishing. God can step in at any time in the process and something completely different can, and often does, happen. But, until that happens, I try to take it one step at a time.
Now Let's look at what's involved in each one of these components.
  • tag line or hook - this is one sentence, preferably 15 words or less. It should NOT be a synopsis of your book, but rather it's to intrigue the editor/agent and make them want to know more.
  • elevator pitch - this should be short, around 45 seconds. It will sound a lot like back cover copy or what is on your one sheet. Again, it's to make the editor/agent ask to see more.
  • one sheet or pitch sheet - this gives the blurb about your book, information about yourself (bio) and general info, like genre and audience for your project. If it's fiction, it states that the project is finished. If it's non-fiction it gives a completion date if the project is unfinished
You won't need a full proposal or manuscript for the conference. If an editor or agent is interested they'll ask you to email or snail mail them one when you get home.
Again, as with networking, you'll need to bring some samples of your writing.
This is just a general overview of what is needed. If you have specific questions, feel free to use the contact form at the bottom of the blog and send me your question. You can also post your question in the comments section. In the next few weeks I'll address each of these components individually or in groups and give you some examples to see exactly what others have used successfully.

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

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

My Journey to a Book Contract - Part 9 Preparing for Editors and Agents

by Elva Cobb Martin  @ElvaCobbMartin


You can master all kinds of writing craft but if you don't learn how to submit to editors and agents, you might never get that dreamed of open door to a book contract and great adventure.

Recently I learned about an excellent  editing program that can help you polish a manuscript before submitting to an editor or agent. Check out ProWritingAid.com  I bought it for $40/year and its been a great help.

Once you have your ms in what you think is your best form, you should read publishers or agents submission guidelines carefully and do exactly what they say to submit. It's amazing how many don't think they need to follow submission guidelines. You can google any publisher, editor or agent's name and go to the link for Submission Guidelines. All this study is vital before submitting.

Attend writers' conferences! At writers' conferences, the editors and agents will write in their class sections in the syllabus what type manuscripts they are currently interested in. See where yours would fit and make an appointment with that editor or agent, and sit at their table. In this picture I am at a dinner seating with MacGregor Literary Agent Erin Buterbaugh at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference at Ridgecrest, NC.

For editors and agents you need to learn what One Sheets are, query letters, book proposals, pitches/loglines, tags. You can google these terms and find a lot of information. And you need to have a great business card. For cards and many other writer helps check out http:///www.vistaprint.com  

Appointments at conferences are only 15 minutes long so you have to have your pitch ready to go and hopefully, a One Sheet. Don't know what a One Sheet is or like to see a sample? Leave a comment and ask for a sample to be sent to your email address as an attachment, and I'll send you one you can just delete my info and add yours. Don't forget your email address! 

An appointment with an editor at the 2015 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference I attended and my carefully crafted pitch and One Sheet, led to my first book contract which was for my inspirational romantic suspense, Summer of Deception. Amazon linkhttp://amzn.to/2pOgVHI

Pitch or Logline
This a one or two sentence nutshell that explains what your story is about and HOOKS the reader or editor.

Sample 1: Jacob Marshall must avenge his father's honor by implicating Serena Jones' Father only to realize revenge often hurts the innocent.

Here's a simple work template to write your pitch:

(Your protagonist) ______________MUST________________ (critical plot goal BY_______________ (action or conflict with the Antagonist) ONLY TO REALIZE ________________ (what the character learns about life that helps him change his goal during the journey of book or come to a satisfactory ending.)

Here's my pitch I wrote for Summer of Deception using this template, and I pitched it and gave a One Sheet to editors during our appointment, along with my business card.

Rachel York tries to unearth the truth about her brother's reported death by taking a position at a Carolina tea plantation, only to realize the truth may destroy her new found love and could even cost her life.
http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI

Tags
A tag is a much briefer hook, like back cover copy's first line or two in large print, or movie bylines.

To boldly go where no man has gone. (Star Wars)
Don't go in the water. (Jaws)
Seth Kincaid remembers almost everything . . . except getting married. (novel tag)
Power comes with a price (The List by Robert Whitlow)

My tags for Summer of Deception:
A wounded warrior . . . a woman searching for truth.
Can love survive a summer of deception?

Rejections happen to all! Never forget this. Summer of Deception was rejected 26 times over several years, but I kept honing my craft, rewriting and submitting. Here are some comments I received with rejections:

Too much telling. (White Rose Publishing)
Too wordy - too much description (Agent sue Seymour)
Too long for publisher's guidelines (Editor Yvonne Lehman)
Not a fit for us. (Harlequin Love Inspired)


Make up your mind. YOU will not give up! Track your submissions by date, person submitted to and their response. Keep a Writing Log Notebook as you progress with your writing daily or weekly.

So glad you stopped by today! Did any of this help you? Do leave a comment and share on your social media if helpful.

Here's my scripture prayer for you and all Christian writers:
Make our words "like a gushing stream, (sparkling, fresh, pure and life-giving.)" Prov. 18:4b Amplified Bible

Thanks for stopping by. This is the last part of the series on my "Journey to a Book Contract." Now, as Randy Ingermanson would say: "Go write a heartbreaking work of staggering genius."

Onward in His Steps,
Elva 

Elva Cobb Martin is vice-president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. She has two inspirational novels contracted with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. Summer of Deception, a contemporary romantic suspense, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt. Both have spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried Elva's articles. Jim Hart of Hartline Literary represents her. She and her husband Dwayne are semi-retired ministers. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives in Anderson, South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site http://www.elvamartin.com,on  her blog
http://www.carolinaromancewithelvamartin.blogspot.com
Twitter www.twitter.com/ElvaCobbMartin; Facebook http://www.facebook.com/elvacobbmartin;  and Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/elvacobbmartin
Link to her romance novels and non-fiction works on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI




Thursday, March 22, 2018

My Journey to a Book Contract - Part 8 Importance of Conferences, Writing Groups and Writers' Blogs

by  Elva Cobb Martin  @ElvaCobbMartin


Today I want to share the next step to my first book contract. 



Writing conferences, writing groups, critique partners and following good writing blogs have all been part of helping me finally gain a book contract.

As a writer you may feel like or wish to be a loner, but this is not going to fly well today. Networking is important. Many people helped me along the way to a contract. I appreciate them all and hope I have helped others.

Writing Conferences

Some great coming conferences I can recommend along with their links are: 


  • February also,  Florida Christian Writers’ Conference, Lake Yale Conference Center,  Leesburg, Florida    http://www.floridacwc.net
  • Mid-March, Carolina Christian Writers Conference, Spartanburg First Baptist    www.fbs.org/writers
I consider money spent for conferences, which I have to carefully plan and budget for, is an investment in my writing success. And I keep detailed records for tax deductions for all my writing expenses, including conferences.

My first book contract offer for my inspirational romantic suspense novel, Summer of Deception, actually came after I attended and pitched it to an editor at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. I had 26 rejections of query letters and partial submissions by email before that. Of course, I kept improving my craft after each rejection...and kept writing my second novel. I think the face-to-face contact with an editor at a conference helped slide me over into a book contract offer. Summer of Deception was released May, 2017. Amazon link http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI

Writing Groups
Along with conferences, I have been blessed by my participation in several writing groups: our ACFW-SC chapter of which I am vice president; Cross N Pens, which meets in Simpsonville, SC, and Yvonne Lehman's writing group which I attend when I can in Black Mountain, NC. The critique times in these groups helped me plow through quite a few craft items I needed to improve.

Great Writers' Blogs to Follow:

http://www.writerswrite.co.za 


I skim these blogs and print out the ones I need to study further. 

Which conferences, writing groups, or blogs have helped you along the way?


All the above things have helped me gain a book contract. But I will never discount the fact that finding time to daily study the Bible and pray over my writing have been the key to any success I've enjoyed and much smoother sailing.

My second novel is from the pirate era! In a Pirate's Debt has been released by Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. 

Amazon link http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI

So glad you stopped by. Do leave a comment and share this on your social media if you think it helpful to others. 

Be blessed today,
Elva 




Elva Cobb Martin is vice-president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. She has two inspirational novels contracted with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. Summer of Deception, a contemporary romantic suspense, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt. Both have spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried Elva's articles. Jim Hart of Hartline Literary represents her. She and her husband Dwayne are semi-retired ministers. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives in Anderson, South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site http://www.elvamartin.com,on  her blog
Link to her romance novels and non-fiction works on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI

Thursday, March 15, 2018

My Journey to a Book Contract - Part 7 Internal Dialogue Editor's Notes

by Elva Cobb Martin


Today I am sharing some internal dialogue notes from an editor of my romantic suspense novel, Summer of Deception, which was released in May, 2017.

What do you think the characters in the pictures below might be thinking?





Secret:  Ethan Becket, my hero for my next novel. He's begging me to tell his story.


Internal Dialogue and Italics – Notes from Susan Baganz, Editor, 


   Internal dialog is the way someone talks to themselves in their minds, it’s not just mere thoughts)

1) Just plain thoughts are not italicized.  
     
     Was this a manipulation?  
     Good gravy. Was this the way the Marines landed?  
    
2)When the character is actually talking to himself, that should be italicized. 
   
      It was just a nightmare. It was just a nightmare.
      Get out of my way, please.
      Not expecting her?
      A pleasing fragrance emanated from her. Musk or lavender?

3) Silent prayers are italicized.
     God help me.
     Lord, thank You for this wonderful summer position, but I’m going to need Your help big time to sit at table with this man every day.

4)  Third person past tense versus first person present tense in thoughts. (This was an eye opener for me)
         
     Incorrect: Wipe the silly smirk off your face. (Simple thought of character I had in italics)
    Corrected: She longed to wipe the silly smirk off his face.
    
     Incorrect: Yes, what is preventing me?
     Corrected: Yes, what was preventing her?

      Incorrect: So you don't care a thing about Morgan, Mr. Barrett? And you think marijuana shouldn't be legalized, but you've stashed a fortune in cocaine in your attic.

     Corrected:  So he didn't care a thing about Morgan. And he thought marijuana shouldn't be legalized but he stashed a fortune of cocaine in his attic. 
                                                       ***
Thanks for stopping by. Please share any tips you have about internal dialog, and do share this blog on your social media if it proved helpful.

Be blessed today,
Elva


Elva Cobb Martin is vice-president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. She has two inspirational novels contracted with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. Summer of Deception, a contemporary romantic suspense, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt. Both have spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried Elva's articles. Jim Hart of Hartline Literary represents her. She and her husband Dwayne are semi-retired ministers. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives in Anderson, South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site http://www.elvamartin.com,on  her blog
http://www.carolinaromancewithelvamartin.blogspot.com
Twitter www.twitter.com/ElvaCobbMartin; Facebook http://www.facebook.com/elvacobbmartin;  and Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/elvacobbmartin
Link to her romance novels and non-fiction works on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI

Thursday, March 8, 2018

My Journey to a Book Contract - Part 6 Deep Point of View

by Elva Cobb Martin


Part 6 - Master Deep Point of View (DPOV)
I highly recommend you purchase a copy of Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson! It is a small book but a great help in mastering DPOV.

DPOV draws the reader into the arms and head of your character.

Mastering DPOV often eliminates most problems with show/don’t tell and italics.

Here are some quick pointers:
♦  Never say he/she thought, felt, knew, wondered, realized, decided. 

Simply write what it is.
    Wrong: He understood how much this would mean to her. He knew she’d be worried.
    Right: This would mean a  lot to her. She would be worried.
♦  Don’t name the emotion, describe it instead.
     
     Shallow: Jealousy flashed through me.
     Deep: Heat boiled my insides. If that wimp could win a trophy, where was mine?
♦  Describe physical effects on the body: 
         Anger: His hands formed into fists.
       Nervous: Sweat popped out on his palms. His throat closed.
♦  Ditch Prepositional telling phrases (of, with, in)
     
     Shallow: Desiree’s skin prickled with pleasant excitement.
      Deep: Shadows deepened. The place reeked of ancient secrets.   Desi's skin prickled.
♦  Don’t use he/she saw, tasted, smelled, heard. Simply state what he saw, tasted, smelled or heard.
     Shallow: He could see the tip of the dog’s nose peeking out of the                            closet.
     Deep: The tip of the dog’s nose peeked out of the closet.
     Shallow: He tasted bile. 
     Deep: Bile rose in his throat.

Do you have some tips to help master DPOV? Please leave a comment and share on your social media if this blog helped you.

Be blessed,
Elva


Elva Cobb Martin is vice-president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. She has two inspirational novels contracted with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. Summer of Deception, a contemporary romantic suspense, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt. Both have spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried Elva's articles. Jim Hart of Hartline Literary represents her. She and her husband Dwayne are semi-retired ministers. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives in Anderson, South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site http://www.elvamartin.com,on  her blog
http://www.carolinaromancewithelvamartin.blogspot.com
Twitter www.twitter.com/ElvaCobbMartin; Facebook http://www.facebook.com/elvacobbmartin;  and Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/elvacobbmartin
Link to her romance novels and non-fiction works on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI