Fiction Proposal Sell Sheet

The sell sheet is the second page of your fiction proposal. Not all agents or publishers require a sell sheet, but some do. Even if they don’t, it doesn’t hurt to add a sell sheet to your proposal.

Your sell sheet should include the following elements:

Promo Sentence Sales Handle:

These are sometimes called loglines or taglines. This is one sentence or a couple of short sentences, sometimes just a phrase, that gets you interested in the book. To get an idea of how to write a sales handle, look at best-selling novels or popular movies. Here’s a few good ones.

The Patriot: Before they were soldiers, they were family. Before they were legends, they were heros. Before there was a nation, there was a fight for freedom.

Air Force One: Air Force one is hijacked with the president and his family aboard.

Independence Day: Aliens try to invade earth on Independence Day.

Liar, Liar: An attorney, because of a birthday wish, can’t tell any lies for 24 hours.

The Hunt for Red October: A Soviet submarine captain uses Russia’s ultimate underwater weapon as a means to defect to the west.

A good logline has three components:

  • Who the story is about (protagonist)
  • What he strives for (goal).
  • What stands in his way (antagonistic force).

Back Cover Promotion:

This is the one to two paragraphs you would have on the back cover of your novel telling what your book is about. You don’t want to give away endings or surprises here. The Missionary by William Carmichael and David Lambert has an example of a good one. 

David and his wife Christie rescue impoverished children in the slums of Venezuela. But for David, that’s not enough. The supply of homeless children is endless because of the corrupt policies of the Venezuelan government.

In a rare moment of anger, David lashes out publicly against the government, unaware of the chain reaction that will soon follow.

When the CIA offers David a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play a key role in a “bloodless” coup, he decides to go for it. But little by little, he falls into an unimaginable web of deceit that ends in a desperate, life-or-death gamble to flee the country with his wife and son, with all the resources of a corrupt dictatorship at their heels.

Genre:

Tell what genre this is. If it fits in more than one genre, list only two and place the most important one first. The exception to this is if the novel fits in the Christian category. Then you can list Christian, then two genres. For more information about the different genres, click here.

Word Length:

You can estimate here to the nearest thousand. Also your word processor program word count is acceptable. There’s no need to use any complicated formulas.

Series:

If this novel is part of a series, list the other books and a short blurb on what they’re about.

Purpose or Spiritual Premise:

Some agents require this. Don’t sweat about it because it’s not a deal breaker. Just list any theme you notice. If you have scripture the theme is based on, list that here too.

History of the Manuscript:

This is important information for agents. They will want to know if you’ve submitted the manuscript to any publishers.

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This entry was posted in Sharpening Our Writing, Submitting Your Work and tagged , , , by Tamera Kraft. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tamera Kraft

Tamera Kraft has been a children’s pastor for over 20 years. She is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire For Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist. She is also a writer and has curriculum published including Kid Konnection 5: Kids Entering the Presence of God published by Pathway Press. She is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.

5 thoughts on “Fiction Proposal Sell Sheet

  1. Hello Tamera,
    First, I’ll thank you heartily for posting such excellent guidelines to proposals on the web. I was wondering about the formatting of a proposal. Do you use single or double space? Block style paragraphs or indented paragraphs? I imagine that the cover letter would be single spaced and in block style, but what about the one page sell sheet, bio, synopsis, etc.? In advance, thanks!

  2. For proposals, I use single space, no blocks or indents, with one space in between paragraphs or sections for everything but the synopsis. For the synopsis, I use indents but not blocks, single space, no lines between paragraphs. I hope this helps.

    • Great! I’ve seen a lot of back-and-forth debate on this point, but it makes sense to me. It would make the whole proposal look much more consistent. Thanks so much–and thanks again for this wonderful resource.

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