Friday, June 8, 2012

Creating Sell Sheets for Editors & Agents by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Creating Sell Sheets

A sell sheet (or one sheet) is a one-page flyer that promotes a book or series of books and the author. It can be single or double sided. These sell sheets are used in editor and agent appointments. If an editor seems interested in your story pitch and would like to know more a Sell Sheet is easy for them to take rather than a whole chapter or a partial book. Often they will ask you to send your manuscript when you return home. They prefer not to carry manuscripts with them around the conference and on the flight, but a simple one sheet isn't too much and it gives them a point of reference to remind them of your manuscript and who you are weeks later when they receive it in the mail. 


Sell Sheets should contain the following information:

  • Author Name - positioned prominently on the page in a way that  doesn't distract from the story itself.
  • Tagline - a one-line sentence that describes what genre or theme the author writes
  • Author Bio - short (3-5 sentences), include writing credentials such as contests finaled in or won, published works of fiction, nonfiction, short stories, articles, and writing memberships to organizations.
  • Website or blog url
  • Contact info (if author is agented then the name and contact info of the agent)
  • Title of manuscript or Series
  • Scripture Theme if Christian fiction or inspirational romance
  • Word Count
  • Time period if historical
  • Location if applicable
  • Description of the story (no more than 4-5 sentences)
  • Author photo (as professional as possible and up-to-date)
Design & Layout
Choose a design that either goes with the author's website/blog layout or a theme that compliments the story or series that is being promoted. This means you will need to customize the design of each Sell Sheet according to the story or series. Some authors hire an affordable graphic designer, while others do the design work themselves. Whatever you decide, please ensure it is as professional as possible.

Examples of Sell Sheets
Below, are two examples of Sell Sheets for two different stories that have a completely different layout theme according to the story they're selling. One has a southern historical flair, while the other is a more elegant style representing Regency England. 

What are your experience with Sell Sheets? Have you created any yourself? Did you hire someone to create the layout and design? What was the most difficult piece for you?



sally apokedak said...

wow. Those are gorgeous one-sheets.

I've never thought to do this because in the children's conferences I go to no one uses them. I bet if I took something like this, I'd really stand a good way. Because those are so attractive.

Terry Burns said...

We ask for a sell sheet or one sheet as part of our proposal package. Why? It gives a prospective editor a single page that he or she can carry into an editorial meeting to present a project with that has all of the pertinent information on it. They can even make copies and pass them around as part of the presentation. We forget at most houses there is more than one person involved in an acquisition decision and these can make a real difference in the process particularly with graphics-oriented marketing people. A sell sheet that impresses us is likely to impress them as well.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Thanks for this helpful info, Jennifer! I think I need to rework mine sometime in the near future.

Jeanette Levellie said...

I've designed my own using templates with different color schemes according to my books. It's a lot of work, but it's also fun.

Some writers are not into detail-oriented tasks like this. If they can't afford to hire someone to created a one-sheet that attracts attention, they can barter a pie, a babysitting time, or an edit on an article.