Blogger: Mary Keeley
Soon it will be the busiest conference time of the year. If you’ve been feeling butterflies beginning to flutter in your stomach at the anticipation, you likely are not alone. Much is involved in preparing your materials for conferences to ensure that you are organized and at ease in your meetings with agents and editors. Let’s take one thing at a time. Today, we’ll focus on your one-sheet, aka pitch sheet or sell sheet.
This will be review time for those of you who have done these before, but I’ll make a guess that one or two items have fallen off your radar since the last time you created one. And too, with the ever-increasing number of writers pitching their projects, something said here might spark a creative new approach to use in your next one-sheet.
About Your One-Sheet
For those of you new to the concept of a one-sheet, it is a page that capsulizes what you have written and why you think it’s special. It also provides important details. Here are six tips as you get started:
- It is a professional document and should look professional.
- Edit your text to be as concise and descriptive as possible. Your perfectly chosen words will be noticed.
- It may be the first impression of your work an agent or editor sees. We all know that first impressions stick. Have at least one additional set of eyes proofread it before you print copies on heavier stock than standard printer paper.
- Use professional software such as a newsletter or flyer template in Microsoft Publisher to design your page. This minimizes the possibility of the design skewing when it is printed or emailed to another computer.
- Choose colors, shading, images, design elements, and fonts that communicate the tone of your nonfiction book or the emotions, main character, and setting in your novel. Adapting an old adage…your design is worth a thousand words.
- It’s better to use both sides of the sheet than to crowd too much onto one side, using a small size font for the text, making it hard to read. Leave space between sections to make it user-friendly for the agent’s or editor’s quick read during a 15-minute pitch meeting. They want to give you their best response in the few minutes you have together. Help them out.
Information to Include
Place these in defined, easy-to-locate sections:
- An image that reflects your topic or your novel’s setting, time period, or theme. Choice of color or black and white depends on how much color you plan to use elsewhere.
- Title – in a larger, highlighted font
- Genre and word count
- Hook – an intriguing phrase or sentence that will capture agents’ and editors’ attention and make them want to learn more
- Brief description – Write it like back cover copy or sales copy. If you need examples, read the back cover of the books on your shelf or in a bookstore. Its purpose is to entice shoppers to want to purchase the book, or in this case, entice the agent or editor to request a proposal. Highlight your fresh approach to the topic or unique twists to your novel.
- Endorsements for your book – if you have firm commitments
- Your professional author photo and brief bio – Your bio should focus on your qualifications for writing your story or nonfiction topic. Your photo is important because it helps the agent or editor remember you and your conversation when he or she returns to the office.
- Your name, website, email address, and phone number
- Your agent’s name and contact information if you have one
Don’t wait until a week before the conference to begin working on your one-sheet. Your first impression needs to be stellar, and it will take time to compile all the pieces, design the page, and create your hook and brief description. Maybe I’ll be privileged to see yours at a conference this year.
What is the hardest part of creating a one-sheet for you? Which part comes easiest to you? If you have given a one-sheet to an agent or editor in the past, what feedback did you receive? Do you have additional suggestions?
Preparing for conferences: Your one-sheet takes time to do well. Don’t treat it as a last-minute item. Click to Tweet.
Your one-sheet is your first impression with agents and editors at a conference. Make it stellar. Click to Tweet.