Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The One Sheet

While finishing editing my manuscript, I also started drafting some promotional material--a query letter, synopsis, and most recently, a one sheet.

Now, the specifications for a "one sheet" (a one-page document used to pitch to agents and editors personally) don't seem to be as rigid as those for preparing a manuscript. But most one sheets I've seen contain the following elements.

A tag line. One brief sentence attempting to get the agent's attention.

A brief synopsis or "hook." A few sentences introducing the plot of the book, much like one would include in a good, concise query letter.

A brief bio of the author and his or her writing history. This was hard for me. I'm not used to writing about myself.

A photograph. Even harder. I hate having pictures taken. I might need to get a professional portrait done.

Contact information. Double checking for typos.

Unlike manuscript preparation, some creativity is allowed--the use of a frame, layout, even a tiny splash of color.

Bad ideas? Colored paper, glitter, unusual fonts, too much clip art. In short, anything that says 'tacky' or 'unprofessional.'

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Nice and Nasty of Book Reviews

Those who have been following this blog for any length of time may have noticed I've been doing fewer book reviews. And there's a reason for that.

I used to think I knew how. Read a book. Tell what you think of it--good, bad, or indifferent.

But it seems there is more to it than that.

Lately I've come across the idea that writing a negative review, especially of Christian fiction, is a no-no for an aspiring writer. The community is small, they say, and you'd hate to damage your career before it gets off the ground.

And then there's the idea that we're all in this together; writers need to lift each other up. And I've heard book reviewers say words to the effect of, "I had a hard time finding something good to say about that book." And then you read their glowing review.

Authors and publishers are even paying others to write reviews of their books.

And then there's the flip side of that--aspiring writers who begin to get enamored with their own abilities and trash everybody's book, anywhere they can--their blogs, Amazon, the bathroom stalls at Walmart, etc, in an attempt to prove their superiority.

It is harder and harder to find an honest book review--one that examines the craft of writing and points out both bad and good. If that is the case, what value are reviews anyway?

What do you think? Have book reviews become so much a tool of promotion that they've lost validity? What should a good book review look like?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I've been writing just long enough to realize that the writing life is hard to balance. In writing, one needs to balance plot,character development, dialog, description, grammar, and a whole bunch of other things just to create one manuscript.

But that's not all. While writing, one must not forget to keep learning, to keep improving. So it is not enough to write, one must study writing and improve craft.

But that's not all. Writing is such a solitary occupation. To keep from being discouraged and isolated, the writer often needs to network with other writers. Welcome to the world of Facebook, twitter, writers groups and conferences.

But that's not all. If one should be so blessed/lucky/good to be published, the business side of writing can take over. And even before that, drafting queries, searching for an agent, learning about the business of publishing so you don't make stupid rookie mistakes--it all takes time.

But that's not all. One must have a life. Often another job. Family responsibilities.

All this is really an explanation as to why my blog entries have been a little sparse. What have I been up to lately? Editing my WIP whenever I get a chance, and working on my diet and exercise goals.

Here, have a lower fat recipe for meatloaf: