Thursday, July 10, 2014

So What is a ONE SHEET Anyway?

By Edie Melson
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 my cozy mystery, DEAD RINGER one sheet. This 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. 

An Image to Illustrate Your Concept

A lot of one sheets include an image to set the mood. This isn't a requirement, but we're seeing it more and more. You can buy an image, upload one of your own, or use one that's copyright free.

The Project Blurb

For this section, think back cover copy. This is NOT the place for a full synopsis. You want this section to read like the blurb on the back cover of a book. You should give more information than just a hook. Make sure you include enough for the editor or agent to get a good sense of the story. 



Project Specifics

This is where you give some of the details and they're slightly different for fiction and non-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. 

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.
Similar Titles, also known as Comparables -- you don't have to include this, but it's nice if you have room.

Author Info

This is where you need to include a recent picture, personal bio, contact information and social media information. 
Picture -- this should be a professional headshot. That doesn't mean it has to be stuffy, but it needs to be of professional caliber.
Bio -- keep this short and relevant. The person reviewing your one sheet is going to want to know your experience. That includes writing experience and experience with your subject matter. In other words, why are you the person to write this book?
Contact Info -- You need to include your email address, phone number, and website URL. This is no need to include your physical address. It just takes up valuable real estate without adding anything.

All of these individual components will give you an effective one sheet. Be sure to post any questions or comments you have. 

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 Christian Writers Conference and the social media mentor at My Book Therapy. She's also the military family blogger at, social media director for Southern Writers Magazine and the senior editor for Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook