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The Art of Writing & The Christy Gala Recap

The Art of Writing & The Christy Gala Recap

On Wednesday, November 6, 2019, a few of us Seekers attended The Art of Writing Conference and The Christy Awards Celebration Gala held in Nashville, Tennessee! We'll be doing quite a bit of chatting in the comments about our personal experiences and perspectives over the weekend and perhaps into early next week (depending on interest) but let's start with some general information about the events and where you can learn more!


The Art of Writing & The Christy Gala Recap
Melanie Dickerson & Laura Frantz
The Art of Writing Conference

An afternoon of learning and connecting with writers and publishers featuring four workshops designed to take your writing to the next level. Sessions led by Lysa TerKeurst (Reaching the Heart of Readers); James Rubart (Next-Level Writing); Anne Bogel (Casting Novel Characters Using the Enneagram); and a panel of marketing pros that included Dave Schroeder (B&H), Michele Misiak (Revell), Steve Laube (Enclave), Anne Bogel (author/ podcaster/ blogger), and Amy Green (Bethany House).

Learn more at ChristyAwards.com/conference.html


The Art of Writing & The Christy Gala Recap
Annie, Beth, Ruthy, and Beth
The Christy Award Celebration Gala

The Christy Award Dinner Gala celebrated the art of Christian fiction, announced the 2019 winners of The Christy Award, and featured bestselling authors Patti Callahan, James Rubart, and Becky Wade.

In addition, the legacy of bestselling author and pioneer of inspirational fiction, Janette Oke, was honored in the 40th anniversary year of Love Comes Softly and the impactful lives of C.S. "Jack" Lewis and his wife, Joy.

Learn more at ChristyAwards.com/Gala.html


The Art of Writing & The Christy Gala RecapThe Christy Award Finalists and Winners

A complete list is available on the Christy Awards website (and check out the Hall of Fame, too) but especially be sure to congratulate our own Melanie Dickerson! The Warrior Maiden has been named as the 2019 Young Adult category Christy Award winner!!!


Seekers in attendance

Ruthy Logan Herne, Melanie Dickerson, Annie, and Beth were among the few hundred industry professionals (and a few readers, too) who participated in The Art of Writing Conference (and/or PubU, an ECPA publishers conference held just before the writers' conference) as well as The Christy Award Gala.


The Art of Writing & The Christy Gala Recap
Melanie & Mesu Andrews

The Art of Writing & The Christy Gala Recap
Beth & Morgan Busse

Please join us in the comments with your questions and personal perspectives! 
Did you (or would you like to) attend these events? We'll share some more pictures here and drop in to share our highlights and answer questions about our experiences as we return to our normal schedules!

Let us know if you'd like to enter for a chance to win your choice of one book from Beth's bookstash!

And a little addendum from Ruthy!

I was supposed to add my thoughts here, so I'm breaking in with a Public Service Announcement, LOL!
This mini-conference is a wonderful experience for authors, whether or not you're a Christy finalist. The chance to chat and talk with numerous industry professionals, to hobnob with wonderful authors, to get a glimpse of what publishers are seeking and to have a chance to visit and stay with Seekers... to talk writing and publishing and life and love...

It's an amazing and very affordable opportunity. Next year is the 20th anniversary of the Christy Award, named for the character in Catherine Marshall's award-winning, bestselling book. Am I planning on going again?

Yes, ma'am! 

Because it is an experience that does not disappoint!

Ruthy

A Time of Refreshment

by Mindy Obenhaus
A Time of Refreshment
No matter what our call is in life, no matter what our job, sometimes we need to be refreshed. To breakaway from the daily grind and recharge. For me, the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference is my happy place. Writing can be a lonely endeavor, so ACFW is an opportunity to gather with old friends, meet new ones, recharge my writerly soul and come away refreshed and eager to dive back into my writing.

This year’s conference was held just hop, skip and a jump down the road from me in beautiful San Antonio, Texas. Our hotel was right on the Riverwalk and our room faced the historic Alamo.

A Time of Refreshment
A Time of Refreshment
You gotta look hard, 
right behind that tree you can see the Alamo's familiar arch.
This year’s conference was smaller in attendance, but HUGE when it came to learning. At least, in my opinion. So I thought I’d share few of my favorite moments from the conference.
A Time of Refreshment
Keynote Speaker, Frank Peretti –

Frank emphasized the fact that we write about redemption. Of course, it was done in his unique, oft hilarious, manner. Yet he always cut to the chase—Christ crucified is the foundation for all we do because it provides a point to all we do. Jesus was a storyteller, not a preacher. We are storytellers, too. Sharing stories of hope that point readers to Christ.

Workshops –

With Frank having set the spiritual tone, I headed to Rachel Hauck’s workshop, Revelation of Jesus in Fiction. I love listening to Rachel speak about the spiritual aspect of our writing. She makes it real and this class dovetailed so well with what Frank had said. Rachel talked about impacting hearts not by being preachy or quoting scripture in our books, but by being creative and having the fragrance of Christ. Using metaphors or symbolism to share the gospel. Jesus used parables to convey His message, He didn’t beat people over the head. Granted, our books are much longer, but how can we tell those stories in not only a way that will hold the reader’s attention, but will point them toward Jesus, perhaps without ever using His name? We have to think outside the box and get creative. Remember, if God called you, He will equip you.

Another wonderful workshop was presented by Karen Witemeyer and it was geared toward guarding our writers’ hearts from those flaming darts of the enemy. Things like discouragement, pride, envy, greed, doubt and burnout. Things that seek to derail us from what God has called us to do. Karen provided Biblical weaponry to combat those attacks so we can seize the victory. 

Do you ever feel discouraged? Remind yourself that God “took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners He called you. He said, ‘You are my servant; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’” (Isaiah 41:9-10)

Friends and Villagers –

I love making new friends, but thanks to the advent of the internet, we sometimes feel as though we know someone before we ever actually meet them. Such is the case when I get to meet those of you from Seekerville.
A Time of Refreshment
I "knew" Sherrinda Ketchersid from Seekerville, 
but it was such a treat to finally see her in person.

A Time of Refreshment
While I've known Missy, Tina and Sharee for years, 
I was excited to congratulate Connie Queen on her recent contract.
A Time of Refreshment
Our own Kathy Bailey and Sharon Simms can light up a room with their smiles.
A Time of Refreshment
And getting to see my fellow Seekers is always a treat.
A Time of Refreshment
Me, Missy, Mary and the lovely Georgiana Daniels.
No matter what our calling, refreshment is important to our well-being. Without it, we burn out. It doesn’t have to be a big conference, though. It can be lunch with a friend or simply time alone, doing something you love.

What are some of your favorite ways to refresh and energize yourself? And no, coffee doesn't count. ;-) What do you treat yourself to in order to renew your vigor?


A Time of Refreshment
Three-time Carol Award nominee, Mindy Obenhaus, writes contemporary romance for Love Inspired Books. She’s passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren at her Texas ranch. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com

How to Know if a Conference Was Successful


How to Know if a Conference Was Successful

ACFW Conference is on the horizon! Friends, learning, meetings, laughter, food, and so much more!

I love going to writing conferences. I love seeing people I know, making new friends, sitting in classes learning from great teachers, making memories.

But face it, going to writing conferences isn't cheap. Money for the hotel, money for the conference, travel. For some it means taking time off from work, finding childcare, dog-sitters, etc.

Once you've poured out all that time and money, gone to the conference, done all the things, and get back home, you'll no doubt spend a bit of time reflecting on the experience, and quite possibly wondering if it was worth it. Did you get enough bang for your buck(s)?

The answer to that is: It depends. (I know, how frustrating!)

But it's true. The answer to whether a writing conference was "worth it" depends upon several factors, not the least of which is "What were your expectations going into the conference?"

(In an aside, I wrote an entire post on managing expectations, and it can be found HERE. Go ahead and read it, I'll wait. :) )

Welcome back! :) So, if the key to a successful conference is managing your expectations, then what are realistic expectations when it comes to conferences?

I have two generic expectations that, if fulfilled, guarantee for me that a conference was a success.


1. Make at least one new friend.

One of the things I LOVE about attending ACFW is getting to hang with my friends that I only see maybe once a year (or even less frequently if we don't happen to both go to the conference.) I love catching up, sharing industry and life news, laughing our heads off, and just being 'us.'

But if I only engage with the friends I already have, I am not only limiting myself, but I'm excluding people, too. So, at each conference, I make it a point of emphasis to meet at least one new friend. The opportunities are boundless at the conference.

How to Know if a Conference Was Successful
Barbour authors treated to a Mississippi River Boat Cruise at
the ACFW Conference in St. Louis Left: Rose McCauley and
Jennifer Johnson Right: Ramona Cecil and Keli Gwyn


You might be thinking, "I have a hard time making friends. I won't know what to say."

Here's the magic, door-opening key to friendship at a conference. Find someone who is not currently talking to anyone else, smile, and ask them "So, what do you write?"

Presto! Instant friend. You get to bypass excruciating small talk and go right to the heart of writer friendships! And be a good listener. Exchange info so you can continue the friendship through social media, email, etc.

2. Learn something new.

No writer knows it all, no matter how many conferences they've attended, how many classes they've gone to, how many books they've written. Be humble enough to realize it, and to be willing to learn.

How to Know if a Conference Was Successful
Pepper Basham and our own Audra Harders, no doubt all
primed to learn something new in one of the classes.
(Also probably getting up to some serious hi-jinks.)


You might learn this new thing during the key-note address, during an agent panel, during a class. Perhaps you might learn a new thing by listening to other writers talk about their experiences or what they just discussed with their agent or editor.

You might even learn something new from a brand new author friend. :)

If I accomplish those two goals, make at least one new friend and learn at least one new thing, then I consider the conference a success.

Now, there are some specific goals you might have for a conference, and those are not wrong, but don't hang the success or failure of the conference on those specific goals, because so much of what happens around those goals is out of your control.

Some specific goals you might have are:

1. Meet with a certain agent/editor.

If you sign up for appointments, you may or may not get the agent or editor appointment of your choice. If you don't get your 15 minutes with Agent X, does that mean your conference was a failure and you might as well not have gone?

How to Know if a Conference Was Successful
Me with my lovely agent, Rachelle
Gardner of Books & Such Literary


If this is the case for you, I suggest you're expectations are not realistic. Which agent or editor you meet with is out of your control. Perhaps you got a meeting with an agent that isn't anywhere on your radar. You can still have a successful encounter, learn something, get your face, name, and story in front of an industry professional. You don't know what might come out of it. I have a couple of friends who said, "I don't think I could ever work with Agent So-and-so." But then they were 'forced' into a meeting with them, and they hit it off! God is bigger than your expectations, so let Him work!

If you already have an agent and/or editor, you will most likely have meetings with them at some point. You can make these successful by being prepared. Have your questions and topics ready for discussion. Perhaps even have a little gift for them? A memento of your friendship/business relationship?

2. Get a book contract

Um, contracts given out at conferences are so rare as to be mythical. (Exception: Both Mary Connealy and I received our first contracts at the ACFW Conference, but that was special circumstances. Barbour Publishing used to hold a contract or two each year and award it to a first-time author that they were going to contract anyway. Our proposals had been on the editor's desk for awhile. They already knew us and our work.) You're not going to 'cold call' an editor in an appointment and have them whip out a contract and fistfuls of cash after a 15 minute session. Put those thoughts away, because if you're flying in such rarefied air, you're going to come crashing down.

How to Know if a Conference Was Successful
Michelle Ule, Editor Rebecca Germany, me, and Liz Johnson on
the day we found out our novella collection, Log Cabin
Christmas, hit the New York Times Best-seller list! 

Rather than expect a book contract, perhaps lower your expectations to meeting some industry professionals, find out what they are like and what they are looking for, and where your work might be a good fit. Information in the writing industry is nearly as important as sheer talent and hard work. Gather all that free information just lying around waiting for someone to snatch it up at a conference.

3. Win an award.

If you're not nominated for an award, you can probably stop expecting to win one, but if you ARE nominated for an award, it's hard not to begin to think that if you don't win, what was the point of going to the conference?

How to Know if a Conference Was Successful
Isn't he the handsomest? Peter and I just outside the
ball room in Nashville, two weeks after his surgery and
the diagnosis that changed our lives!


As someone who has been up for a Carol Award and more than one Genesis Award and not won, it can be...deflating. But as someone who has won both a Carol and a Genesis, while both are fabulous, and I was thrilled, humbled, and grateful to have won, those aren't the things I remember most about those particular conferences. I remember the relationships, the sharing of the anticipation with the other finalists, the fact that my husband was able to join me at the banquet just two weeks after massive cancer surgery. Sitting next to Mary Connealy for one of the funniest (and LONGEST) acceptance speeches ever.

Picture
The 2016 Carol Awards. Sitting with dear friends and sharing
the experience with them made the night extra-special.

Whether you win or not, the conference experience is about the people. Remember for every winner, there are folks who did not win.  Whichever side of that equation you fall on, your gratitude and humility will be fondly remembered. Go to the awards ceremony expecting to make great memories and let the chips fall where they may.


Have you been to writing conferences before? What determines whether a conference is a success to you?


How to Know if a Conference Was Successful

Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she is married to her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.

You can connect with her at her website, www.ericavetsch.com where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her at online https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/
where she spends way too much time!

How to Know if a Conference Was Successful



Journey along in the Old West as four women travel to meet their husbands-to-be and discover that nothing is as it was planned. Eve’s fiancé is in jail. Amelia’s fiancé has never heard of her. Zola’s newlywed husband is dead. Maeve’s travel is misdirected. Can these brides can find a true love match?


The Galway Girl by Erica Vetsch
Kansas, 1875
A mail-order mix-up sends Irish lass Maeve O’Reilly to the Swedish community of Lindsborg, Kansas. Will Kaspar Sandberg consider it a happy accident or a disaster to be rectified as soon as possible?


You can order your copy of Mail-Order Mishaps today by clicking HERE.

A Fortune Cookie Attitude



Missy Tippens


How many of you get a kick out of fortune cookies? I want to share with you a recent fortune I got in a cookie at one of my favorite restaurants…

A Fortune Cookie Attitude

In case you can’t read it, it says: Your abilities will shortly bring you to fame.

Ha! I took a photo so I could kiddingly send it to my kids. My husband and the kids and I had a good laugh about it, and then the thought faded as newer photos overtook it in my phone.

Then last week I attended the Novelists Inc. (NINC) conference in gorgeous St. Petersburg, Florida.

A Fortune Cookie Attitude
Photo I took from my balcony at the Tradewinds Resort. See how the clouds mimic the palm trees!

As I attended workshops taught by successful authors and publishing gurus and chatted with other professional writers, I noticed a spirit of confidence, of can-do. Of course, success requires loads of work. It’s not like confidence alone will create it. But when I’m around successful people I notice a sense of excitement, of expectation, of determination, and the gumption to try new things. These same people also have a willingness to share their knowledge and are happy to help. As we had meals together or chatted outside workshops, they generously (and patiently) answered my questions about publishing and promotion. And let me tell you, some of my questions were embarrassingly basic.

As I was on the way home, reading Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque, about building and maintaining a newsletter list, it hit me that I’ve had the wrong attitude about many things having to do with promotion and reaching out to readers. I’ve always felt my readers considered it a blessing that I only email them quarterly or that I don't post on my Facebook author page multiple times a day. However, I’m discovering through these other authors that their newsletter readers and social media followers love to hear from them.

What an attitude shift that is from my old one!

A Fortune Cookie Attitude


Excitement is contagious. If I’m excited about my books (which I am!), and I share that excitement (which I sometimes feel sheepish about doing), then my readers will be excited to hear from me.

Sounds a little like a math problem!


A Fortune Cookie Attitude


I have many new goals after attending the NINC conference. It’ll take a bit of time to get organized and figure out how to do it. But mainly, it hit me that I should have an attitude that goes along with my fortune from that cookie. I thought I’d share a few tips for how I plan to adjust.

1.  Watch successful people. Make note of their attitudes and try to mimic their work ethic and confidence.
2.  Let go of negative self-talk. Or maybe I should state that more strongly: Recognize and destroy negative self-talk.
3.  Allow yourself to be excited about changes you’re going to make. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Failure will just teach you what works and what doesn’t. (It won’t end the world!)
4.  Surround yourself with supportive people (like us here at Seekerville), people who will pray for you and help you along the way.
5.  Come up with a plan. (And of course, pray for direction as you plan.) You can have the world’s best attitude and loads of excitement, but that has to translate into ACTION.

Now, I’m off to work as if I have fame in my future! :)

I hope you’ll try that as well. In fact, I’ll share my fortune cookie with you: YOUR abilities will shortly bring YOU to fame!

Think like it.

Act like it.

And watch your business grow.

I have a new novella coming soon!! His Perfect Christmas. I’m in the middle of the formatting and uploading now (learning more about choosing keywords and categories!).

One of my other goals post-conference is to sign up and learn how to deliver books on BookFunnel. So today, I’ll be giving away two copies of my novella, His Perfect Christmas, to two commenters (please let me know you'd like to be entered)--to be delivered as soon as I get my account working. :)

So let's talk about our attitudes! Is there anything you need to change to put on your fortune cookie attitude?

A Fortune Cookie Attitude


His Perfect Christmas

Unlucky in love, police deputy Hardy Greenway has spent his life in the friend zone. But now he’s fallen hard for the girlfriend of his nemesis. Dori Blanchette has been waiting for a proposal from her boyfriend, but how can she say yes when she has feelings for Hardy? With Christmas tree ornaments playing spontaneously and secrets being revealed, there’s no telling who will end up together at Christmas!


A Fortune Cookie Attitude
Also! Don't forget to check out my true story about adopting my dog in this recent release! Second Chance Dogs. My story is titled "It Started with a Guinea Pig."














After more than 10 years of pursuing her dream of publication, Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, ACFW Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.comhttps://twitter.com/MissyTippensand http://www.facebook.com/missy.tippens.readers.





A Conference State of Mind



by Mindy Obenhaus

A Conference State of Mind
Conference season is upon us and the excitement is building. Whether you are a regular attendee of writers’ conferences or this is your first, you need to approach your conference experience with the right attitude. So today I thought I'd share a few tips to help guide you to a productive and enjoyable conference. 


DO expect to learn –

No matter what writers’ conference you choose to attend, you can expect to come away with some new knowledge. It may be a different way to plot or how to market your books. It can be something as simple as finding out that the publisher you’ve been targeting is no longer looking for the genre you’re writing.

Before you head off to your conference, look at the classes being offered and see which ones would serve you best at this point in your writing career. If you’re a relatively new author or you haven’t submitted a manuscript yet, a course in marketing your book might not be the best fit for you right now. However, a class on how to increase tension and emotion in your story could benefit you greatly.

DON’T be disappointed if the agent/editor you meet with does not ask to see your work –

There are many reasons an agent/editor won’t request your work. Yes, it could be that they feel like your project needs more work. That, based on your pitch, your story needs to be more focused or have a better hook. But that’s not the only reason.

Editors know what their readers want and are looking for projects that will fill that desire because their goal is to sell books. Perhaps your story isn’t a good fit for their line. Don’t take it personally. Don’t storm off in a snit and then bad-mouth the editor/agent. Yes, I have actually seen people do this. Agents/editors are business people. They’re not trying to be mean. If they don’t ask to see your work, simply thank them for their time, suggest that, perhaps, you could work together at some point in the future and then go on your merry way. Because the last thing you want to do is burn a bridge you might need in the future.
A Conference State of Mind
DO expect to meet new people –

One of the best things about a writers’ conference is that you go into it knowing that you have at least one thing in common with everyone else who’s there. Writing!  And you could even throw in a love for books. If it’s a Christian writers’ conference, then there’s one more thing you have in common. Even if you’re an introvert, those things make it easy to strike up a conversation. Let’s say you’re sitting in a room, waiting for the next workshop to start. Someone asks if the seat next to you is taken. You say no, they sit down and BOOM, the conversation has already started. Introduce yourself. This will likely lead to questions about what you write. You exchange business cards and who knows where that chance meeting will lead. Or someone introduces you to someone else. You discover they write Amish Vampire Romance too and the connection is made.

On the flip side of that coin, if you’re used to hanging with a few specific people and you meet a newbie who looks like a deer in the headlights, invite them into your fold. I know the ladies of Seekerville are great about that and it’s always nice to feel like you belong.

DON’T compare yourself to other writers –

The more conferences you attend, the more people you will know. And it’s sometimes a tough pill to swallow when you run into Lucy, a conference friend you thought was at the same level as you in your writing career and then learn that she’s received a three-book contract while you’re still collecting rejection letters. Of course, you’re happy for Lucy, but inside you’re wondering when it’s going to be your turn.

The first thing you need to remember in a situation like that is YOU’RE NOT LUCY. You’re YOU (if your name happens to be Lucy, then insert another name) and God has a plan for YOU. It’s unique, designed specifically for YOU. Rejoice in the fact that the Creator of the universe has His eye on YOU, that’s He’s called YOU to something no one else can do and He will reveal it to YOU in due time. YOU simply need to be obedient in what God has called YOU to do.
A Conference State of Mind
DO expect to be flexible – 

When things don’t go as planned, think of it as an opportunity for something even better. Say that workshop you’ve been looking forward to attending more than any other is full to the gills and you can’t get in. Instead of getting upset, take the opportunity to find another workshop or take a timeout in the lobby or coffee shop. Sometimes those timeouts can lead to chance meetings. Or as I like to call them, divine appointments. Be open to whatever God might have in store for you.  
A Conference State of Mind
DON’T overdo it –

Conferences can be exhausting. Especially if you and your roommate that you only get to see once a year like to stay up late chatting. Even if you’re an in-bed-by-ten kind of person you may still find yourself feeling a little worn out. Between all of the excitement, events, learning and interacting with others, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. If you start feeling as though your head might explode, know that it’s okay to retreat. Go back to your room, put your feet up and recharge. You don’t have to attend every workshop on your list. Ask someone to share their notes with you or purchase the recordings. Know your limits.
A Conference State of Mind
A writers’ conference can propel your writing and create lasting friendships if you have the right mindset. And behaving in a professional manner and keeping a positive attitude is the right approach for the best possible outcome.

Now it’s your turn. Are you headed off to a conference this year? Will this be your first or have you been before? If you’re a seasoned conference attendee, what’s your best advice for newbies? And if you’re a newbie, do you have any questions for us seasoned folks?



A Conference State of Mind
Three-time Carol Award nominee, Mindy Obenhaus, writes contemporary romance for Love Inspired Books. She’s passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren at her Texas ranch. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com




What Goes On A One Sheet?

What Goes On A One Sheet?


As we enter conference season, one thing writers who are pitching their work to editors and agents at face-to-face appointments stress about is their ‘one sheet.’

If you’re new to this writing lark, you’re probably stressing right now over the fact that you didn’t know there was such a thing, much less that you should be stressing about it! 

Never fear. And don’t stress. One Sheet creation isn’t scary. It isn’t a great mystery. And it can be fun!

First of all, what is a One Sheet? (Also known as a Pitch Sheet.)

What Goes On A One Sheet?
The is the one sheet for my first published novel! White space
is not a bad thing! Though there is a lot to pack into a
one sheet, don't make it so cluttered that the reader won't
know where to look or what's important.


Basically, it’s a mini-proposal. With pictures, colors, and fancy font, all the things you’re not supposed to use in a full-length proposal. It's an aid to you and to the agent/editor when discussing your story.

What Goes On A One Sheet?
The backside of my one-sheet...don't waste all the space
on the back of the page. Fill it with cool stuff! Because I
was targeting a specific line, I included information that
the editor would be looking for, such as a state emphasis
and Scripture verses for each character. (Heartsong Presents)


Second, what goes on it? Lots of fun stuff, some strongly recommended, some optional.

Third, how do I make one, and how can I make one that will grab an editor’s eye and mind and really showcase my story and myself? 

Stress, stress, stress!

Deep breath. We’re going to break it down into bite-sized pieces, and thanks to the generosity of some friends, there will be lots of examples! 

What Goes On A One Sheet?
From Jaime Jo Wright! (She wanted me to tell you that
she had this made by a friend who is a graphic artist.) I love the
background picture which is of Split Rock Lighthouse, one of my
favorite places to visit! The photograph gives a hint of the genre.

What information goes on a one-sheet?


(These are not hard and fast rules, but rather they are guidelines. If you see the examples in this post, you'll note that they are all a bit different...just like writers.)

1. Contact information. Name, email, phone.

2. Agent information. (If you have one. Name/Agency, email, phone.)

3. Title of the story.

4. Genre of the story

5. The elevator pitch. (30-50 words to hook the editor.)

6. A brief summary of the story. (Think back cover copy.)

7. Author bio. (Brief, but put in the writer stuff that makes you awesome.)

8. The status of the manuscript. (Is it complete? How many words is it? Are sample chapters available upon request?)

9. If the book is meant to be part of a series, one paragraph descriptions of subsequent books.

10. Brief character bios.

11. Brief marketing/historical relevance/platform ideas

That’s enough to be going on with, isn’t it? But before you go back to stressing, most of these things are EASY-PEASY, and you already have the information you need, it just needs to be organized.  So let's take each of these items individually and break them down.

Contact Information – simple enough, since you know your name, phone, and email, right?

Agent Information – also simple. If you have an agent, put his/her contact info here. If you don’t, leave it out. If you’re pitching to an agent, they’re going to know you don’t have an agent yet, and if you are pitching to an editor, it is okay to tell them you are un-agented at this time.

Title – This might only be a working title, but you have to call the story something, and here’s a chance to showcase your creativity. Shorter is better, but do a little research. Go to amazon.com or christianbook.com and search for your title idea. You don’t want to accidentally give your book the same title as one that’s already been a blockbuster. I mean, technically, you could call your story about a boy who loses his homework in a hurricane “Gone With The Wind” but I wouldn’t recommend that.

Genre – This is important. You must identify a genre for your story. Mystery, historical romance, suspense, women’s fiction, thriller, horror, young adult. Pick something that will give the agent/editor somewhere to start. Don’t try to be too weird or creative or out there on this one. The agent or editor wants to know where in a bookstore would your title be shelved. If they take your story to the publication board, marketing and publicity will want to know what it is they’re supposed to be selling to bookstore buyers. Clarity is important on this one.

Elevator Pitch – In 30-50 words what is your story about? Short and to the point. Give the main conflict of the story.

Examples: (Can you guess the movie?)

Imperial Forces hold a princess hostage in their efforts to quell the rebellion against the Empire. An orphan and a mercenary work together to rescue the princess, help the Rebel Alliance, and restore freedom and justice to the Galaxy. 

When a young woman is killed by a shark near the tourist town of Amity Island, the police chief, an ichthyologist, and a grizzled ship captain engage in an epic battle of man vs. shark. 

A super hero is forced to assume a mundane life after all super-powers are banned by the government. He longs for adventure, and he gets a chance when summoned to battle an out-of-control robot. Soon, he is in trouble, and it's up to his family to save him.

What Goes On A One Sheet?
From Lorna Seilstad. This was a one-sheet she
gave to her agent to use at appointments. The agent
had all the rest of the info, but it gave her a
visual reminder of Lorna's story when she
was meeting with various editors.


Brief Summary – Expand your elevator pitch to 100-300 words. Here you can use character names, occupations, and the unique situations in your book. Give the main goals of your characters, and the conflict that will keep them from getting to that goal.

Examples:

Sophie Edwards is doing just fine alone, until a strange-yet oddly familiar-man rides into her life, insisting on rescuing her and her four daughters. Can she find a way to love a headstrong mountain man? When Clay McClellan discovers his brother has been murdered, he's bent on finding the killers and seeing them properly hung. But first his Christian duty demands that he marry his sister-in-law. After all, Sophie needs someone to protect her - right? Faith and love help unruly wed newlyweds find common ground and a chance at love on the Texas frontier. Petticoat Ranch – Mary Connealy

Anything he can do, I can do better. At least that was what Cassie Bucknell thought before she pinned on Ben Wilder’s badge and took to patrolling the streets of Cactus Creek, Texas. Cassie has been in love with Ben since primer school, but Ben treats her like a little sister. When they are picked to swap jobs for a month as part of the annual Cactus Creek Challenge in their Texas hometown, the schoolhouse is thrown into an uproar, the jail becomes a temporary bank vault, and Cassie and Ben square off in a battle of wills that becomes a battle for their hearts. The Cactus Creek Challenge – Erica Vetsch

What Goes On A One Sheet?
From Renee Yancy. I love the color on this one! Nicely laid
out, easy to read, and the truck picture is memorable!
 

Author Bio – Make it fun, make it interesting, make it uniquely you! Read examples online and pick out the things that intrigue you or that you find interesting and see what in your own life you can single out that make you different from other authors. Include a photograph of yourself…a headshot preferably! You want the agent/editor to be able to make a connection between your story and yourself after the conference when they are sorting through the things they brought home and all the people they met.

Examples:

What Goes On A One Sheet?
Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she married her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, www.ericavetsch.com where you can learn about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time! 

What Goes On A One Sheet?
Stephanie Morrill is the author of several young adult novels, including the 1920's mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street (February 2017, Blink/HarperCollins). Despite loving cloche hats and drop-waist dresses, Stephanie would have been a terrible flapper because she can’t do the Charleston and looks awful with bobbed hair. She and her near-constant ponytail live in Kansas City with her husband and three kids. You can learn more about her on her author site: www.StephanieMorrill.com






Brief Character Bios – (Optional and if you have space.) Here’s where you list your characters’ goals, motivations and conflicts, along with personality types, unusual occupations, or character-forming backs-story events that make your hero and heroine unique. Keep this succinct, just giving enough information to hook the reader.

Manuscript Status – Here’s where you tell the editor/agent if the story is done or not. FYI, if you are pre-published, you MUST finish the manuscript first. Agents and editors want to know that you can finish a book, that you can deliver on a story’s promise. List the manuscript’s word count in this section, as well as note that sample chapters are available upon request.

Series potential – Is this book meant to be the first in a series? If so, give a brief overview of subsequent books. Most series are three books. If you have a 20 book saga series planned, just give the overview of the next two in line, and mention the potential for more. If your book is meant to be a stand alone, that’s okay, too. Instead of talking about spin offs and sequels, you can state in this section that you have finished X number of manuscripts, give an elevator pitch for a couple of them you feel are your strongest works, and mention that they are available upon request.

Marketing/Promotion/Platform – Here’s where you can put all the things that give you selling clout. Your social media reach, your newsletter subscribers, podcast followers, etc. More and more, publishers want to know what your ‘warm market’ is. How can you help get the word out about your story?

Once you have all this information gathered, now it’s time to get your artist hat on. Now, you might be groaning that you have no artist hat, no graphics design ability, and no talent for assembling visually appealing designs. That’s okay, because there are lots of folks out there who do have that ability, and they would be happy to put it to use for you.  I use Microsoft Publisher, but there are lots of programs you can use to create one sheets. Be creative, try different layouts, use templates or free form it. Remember white space is not a bad thing, but pictures can lend a lot of interest. 

What Goes On A One Sheet?
Created by Lorna Seilstad. I love the way the
design conveys the vintage feel of historical fiction.


When you've created your one sheet, (and be sure to let some beta readers look at it and give their impressions, check for any errors, etc.) what do you do with it? When you go to your pitch session, take a couple of copies, that way, the agent/editor can have one, and you can have one to hang onto, and then you won’t wonder what to do with your hands during the appointment. You’ll have a ‘cheat sheet’ to refer to while you talk, too. J Sometimes the agent/editor will make notes on your page. Most times, they will take your one-sheet with them. Sometimes they won’t though, so don’t be discouraged if they don’t. Thank them for meeting with you either way. And if they ask to have sample chapters and a proposal sent to them, then DO IT! Follow through. Make your own notes as soon as you’re out of the appointment, and then, when you get home, send them the requested proposal as soon as you can (in an email, with the subject line REQUESTED PROPOSAL, and thanking them again for meeting with, naming the conference where you met.) 

What Goes On A One Sheet?
From Savannah Keiser, the stars were added just to keep
her personal contact info confidential. 



So, have you ever created a one-sheet? Is there anything you put on it that isn't covered here? 

Many thanks to Lorna Seilstad, Jaime Jo Wright, Renee Yancy, and Savannah Keiser for letting me use examples of their one sheets. Thanks to Stephanie Morrill for letting me use her author bio and photo.

Lorna Seilstad, who graciously volunteered some examples for this blog post loves to help new writers by creating one-sheets for them. Check out her webpage here: http://www.lornaseilstad.com/forwriters.html  for her rates and samples of her work.

Leave a comment, and be entered to win a free one-sheet design from Lorna Seilstad! Lorna's graciously offered to create a one sheet design for ONE SEEKER! Comment below, and be entered to win! 
The Art of Writing & The Christy Gala RecapA Time of RefreshmentHow to Know if a Conference Was SuccessfulA Fortune Cookie AttitudeA Conference State of MindWhat Goes On A One Sheet?

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