Writing Tips & Tools

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Anatomy of a One Sheet

I know, I know...just the thought of writing a One Sheet can cause most normally sane people to reach for a hammer in a futile attempt to destroy their computers and thus avoid the exercise.

LOL...it really ranks right up there with the “dreaded synopsis”...but that’s another post.

A one sheet is basically a full page elevator pitch. Remember learning to do an elevator pitch. It’s the three sentence version of a one sheet that you can tell a captive agent or editor on the way up or down in an elevator. *snort-giggle* (And it doesn’t count if you lean on the buttons to make the elevator keep stopping so that you can read them a whole one sheet.)

The basic anatomy of a One Sheet contains enough information to pique the interest of an agent or editor. It should contain:

Your contact info: name, address, phone number, email and your primary website.

Stop at those and don’t embellish with an info dump including your Twitter, Facebook, or any other social networking connections. If you are word wise and have room left over when you get all the applicable data included you could add any business websites that you are involved in, but don’t forsake novel info for biographical info. You need them to be interested in the book first!

Next...lay out the info for your book.

The spiritual theme – usually there is a bible verse or premise in mind for the book concept.

The length, genre, and availability.

The concept - sometimes called a short synopsis, or back cover blurb – mash down the whole book into a couple sentences. Usually who, what, when , where and why works well...LOL...I got all “w’s” in there!

A short market analysis - why would this book be a good seller, what makes it different or interesting, and/or what group of people would be interested in reading it.

And lastly, a quick comparison to one or two other books that are similar, or written in the same vein.

Here is a sample of the One Sheet that I used to get the interest of my agent, Terry Burns. This particular book has not found a home yet...but nothing comes before its time. One Sheet

Another format for a sort of One Sheet is the type that agents send to publishers called a Sell Sheet. It contains different information that the type that we as writers would hand out because this type is usually followed by a full length proposal (which we will talk about in another lesson.)

This is a sample of a Sell Sheet that my agent sent out on this same novel. The format contains about half author info, and half short synopsis, with a log line at the top. Sell Sheet

All of the words that I have written in bold will be future discussions!

by Bonnie Calhoun


  1. Robert Liparulo said...
    Great advice, Bonnie. A wonderful book on the topic is "Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds: The Guaranteed Way to Get Your Screenplay or Novel Read" by Michael Hauge. Nitty-gritty and to the point. Keep up the great work!
    Bonnie Calhoun said...
    Cool! I will post that book as a resource! Thanks Bob!
    Rel said...
    Love the new look! Okay, so it has been a while since I dropped by ;-)

    New Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church said...
    Hey Bonnie,
    I just found this page! I'm elated! Trying to write a screenplay, and I'm feeling too many duh! moments! So glad to know you're not just a Geek! (but that's a good thing, though!) Thanks for this site, and I will be following!
    PS, I started a blog for a pastor friend of mine in OH:
    Check out if you have time!
    Debbie said...
    This is an interesting post, because I've been looking at Hartline's submissions guidelines and was confused by the difference between their 'one-page sell sheet' and the story synopsis.

    The sell sheet is described as "A one page overview that summarizes your novel." I would never have understood that to mean what you have described here. I'm interested in submitting to Tamela, but since this format succeeded with Terry, perhaps I'll use it. Thanks!

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