Monday, October 10, 2011

A post that's kinda-but-not-really about pitch sheets

Last week when I talked about meeting with agents and editors, I said I would talk about pitch sheets ... and then I didn't. I gave this a lot thought and decided I wasn't sure how beneficial it would be for you guys. I'll explain what they are, and if you're headed to a conference and want  further advice, please feel free to email me. But I don't think many of you are planning on hitting a conference in the near future, and I don't want to spend time getting you all panicked about pitch sheets.

There's not much I dislike about writing or even the business of writing, but I do hate pitch sheets. Mostly because I never feel like I know what I'm doing, and they suck up a tremendous amount of time. Um, that being said ... I've had a lot of success with mine. So while I'm no expert on pitch sheets, I can at least share what they are and what's worked for me.

A pitch sheet is basically a flier for your project. They also get called "one sheets" but I prefer pitch sheet. You should have a one-line for your project, a paragraph description, your genre, word count, bio, and contact information.

But, like a flier, it's also supposed to be pretty. A nice layout, lots of white space (meaning not too many words), an image of some sort, and then a picture of you, the writer. It should be colorful and eye-catching. Some writers have theirs professionally designed and printed.

The first time I heard all that - about 4 years ago when I was getting set to waddle off to my first ACFW conference (I was quite pregnant) - my brain refused to process it. I mean, for years I'd been studying how to get published, and I'd never even heard of a one sheet! And everything I knew about querying was that you let the words do the work for you. No colored paper, no funky fonts, no pictures.

"This can't be right," I kept thinking to myself as I set about making my very first pitch sheet. I thought that the whole time I designed and redesigned and redesigned my one sheets. "I just know I'm doing this all wrong."

I was so stressed. I think I was more stressed about showing agents my one sheets than I was about pitching to them.

But apparently I did okay, because a month after the conference I received an email from one of the agents I ate lunch with saying, "I'm just now going through all the one sheets I collected, and I'd love to see more on this project of yours."

I'm too embarrassed to upload my actual pitch sheet, but this is a picture of what it looked like.

It was originally printed in color, and a picture of me is supposed to be in the bottom right, but I hated that picture so it's been removed. (I was pregnant and had just woken up from a nap ... and in the picture, I look like I'm pregnant and have just woken up from a nap. Go figure.) I would advise more white space then I have on mine, but otherwise it's an okay example. It worked, anyway.

If you guys have questions about pitch sheets, I'm happy to answer them, I just hated to spend a bunch of time talking about something that doesn't help where you are now in your writing journey. (Although I used 500 words to "not talk" about it, so ... that kind of backfired.)


Congratulations to those who made the top 20 in last round's writing prompt contest. The next writing prompt will go live Monday, October 17th.

In no particular order:

Becki Badger
Karina Vieyra
Faye Rhys
Melanie G. Schroeder
Clare Kolenda
Madison Taylor
Kierson Bostick
Kaitlyn Evensen
Rebekah Hart
Micah Eaton
Isla Patterson
Carilyn Everett
Maddie W.
Jyllenna Wilke
Rebecca Pennefather
Rachelle Rea
Jordan Newhouse
Whitney Stephens
Natalie McMullan
Savannah Smith


  1. YAY! I'M SO EXCITED! I can't wait for the next one to come out!!!!! Also, the info on the pitch/one sheets was very helpful. I never knew that you were supposed to make them with pictures and colors, but I suppose it only makes sense. Wouldn't YOUR eye be drawn to the brightest one? :)

  2. I think that's my name on the top 20 list. My first name is spelt Jyllenna and if my name is spelt wrong its no big deal. I'm just excited to have made it to there!

  3. Sorry about that! The dangers of typing with a toddler hanging off you... :)

  4. haha - kinda-but-not-really about pitch sheets... :D
    Oh, pitch sheets actually sound interesting! One of my favorite parts of publishing little stories online is writing the little summary - I like the fact you have to hook people :)


  5. I finally made it!! I am so excited congrats to everyone else who made it! =)

  6. I like the colors & pictures part ( but not pics of myself) it reminds me of Legally Blonde where Elle hands the guy a resume and he"s like
    "it's pink"
    And she says "and its scented! It adds a little something, don't you think?" 
    Lol! I love that movie & it's quotes. "whoever said orange was the new pink is seriously disturbed!"

  7. I think I'll probably enjoy making my pitch sheet, it looks fun.:D

    This is kind of random, but I've always admired how your book "connects" -- my first draft just has all these loose ends. Like in your book, the reason Skylar is with Eli is because she OWES him -- and it's like a really strong leash or something that we understand is important and can't just be dropped.

  8. Ha ha! Tonya, I LOVE THAT PART!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He he. Probably my favorite part, besides the "bend and snap" part, of course. :D

  9. I made it up there!!! Great post Stephanie!

  10. *Squeal!* I made it. :)

    Okay, on to the real comment:

    I like your original title, Stephanie. How many times was it changed before it became Me, Just Different?

    Like you, I had no idea what a one/pitch sheet was until a preparation email pertaining to my first conference mentioned it was a good idea to bring them. Which of course led to a lot of frenzied Googling. I actually didn't know they were alternatively called pitch sheets until today, this post. :)

    I actually ended up creating one not too long ago after seeing Abbie Michael's awesome one. Because of how much fun it was trying to find a cool picture to represent my story, I ended up printing out neat pictures to serve as inspiration for all my medievel heroines. I once thought having pictures of characters was weird, but I've changed my mind.

    Okay, little of that was relevent, sorry. :)

  11. I have a question or two. How many words can the bit describing your story be? And as for the image, where do you usually get it from? Would they allow you to use an image just randomly off of Google... or do you take it, or...

  12. Tonya, yes it IS like that, isn't it? I wouldn't spray perfume on your pitch sheet, but pink would be fine :)

  13. Emii, thank you! What a compliment. The good news is, that doesn't magically happen. (Well, bad news for me, but good news because it means there's no reason why you couldn't do it too.) In the original draft of the story, Skylar dates Eli just ... you know ... because. He's there ... he's cute ... he likes her. But I had a lot of feedback from early readers that said they did NOT like Skylar, so I knew I needed to make her more endearing. The story needed her relationship with Eli, but I knew I had to make it for a stronger reason. It took some brainstorming :)

  14. Rachelle, I think you and I are the only 2 people in the world who like the title :)

    My original concept for the story was that Skylar would be somebody who thought of herself as superior to those around here and that she would topple and learn that she really wasn't. I'm a classic case of a writer who names her books something that only makes sense/sounds good/grabs your attention if you've actually read the book.

    My publisher didn't like the title so requested I rename it and the other books in the series. Many, many emails were traded. After about 50 titles, Me, Just Different was their suggestion. I suggested "Out is the New In" for book two, and they revised it to Out with the In Crowd. And "So Over It" was mine and didn't get touched.

    Though in Me, Just Different I still managed to work in an original line of Connor's where he says something about Skylar being far superior to any girl he's ever known.

    More trivia than you bargained for, I'm sure :)

  15. Book blogger, excellent questions. There's no real rule about it, but I would say try to limit yourself to 150ish words. Think back cover copy length.

    It's funny you ask about images. When I made mine, it was the days before there were so many rules about web images. Mine - I'm pretty sure - were all stock art through Microsoft or something. (Funny aside - for another pitch sheet of mine, I had an image I adored of a boy and girl sitting on a dock. Several years later,
    I saw it on the new releases table at Barnes & Noble. It was a great stock photo, and I guess some publishing house decided they wanted to use it.)

    Anyway, you can buy images on stock photo sites. Usually they're pretty cheap.

  16. Either that, or you could grab a couple of your friends and do a photo shoot. That could be fun! :)

  17. No, no, I love trivia! :)

    50!!!! Wow! Gulp.

    Yeah, that's probably why I get Being Superior. 'Cause I've read it. :)

  18. That looks kind fun to do actually. :)