Tag Archives: query

Guest Post: Query Theory

Don Draper (JoAnn)Querying can be a lot of fun. At least that’s my theory when it comes to querying picture book stories. How to do it? Accept the premise that when you query, you’re advertising yourself. So channel your inner “Mad Men”–1960s cocktails optional–and let’s begin…

1. Individualized opening

Many posts suggest you match your story to an editor/agent tastes; to follow-up on contacts that you’ve made at conferences or workshops. Good advice, follow it. Begin with where you may have met. Then, if through prior research, you’ve learned of mutual acquaintances, or of an award for one of their books etc., mention it. BRIEFLY.

2. Synopsis

TITLE – (all caps)

Then use the following elements in any order:

QUOTE – I think it’s a good idea to quote the first couple of lines of your manuscript. You’ve worked hard to make those opening lines page turners, use them now to give immediate exposure to your voice.

Then craft 2 to 5 lines to cover the

PREMISE and/or QUESTION – that hints at the plot; and

INVITATION – to find out more

Here’s a synopsis for one of my own stories as an example:

RHINOCEROS? PREPOSTEROUS!

It was a very boring day, nothing to do; nothing to play until…

”Grandpa, there’s a rhino in the den!”

But what can one small boy do as more and more rhinos appear and run wild in his Grandpa’s once neat and orderly living room? Find out in this rollicking counting book that’s totally preposterous and full of surprises!

3. Individualized goodbye

A bit of humor here, if that’s your style, and it relates to your story and the agent/editors guidelines.

A thank you for their time and consideration.

Sincerely,

  1. Yada-Yada

Now, if you were Don Draper, you would do something morally questionable to celebrate. But, the best thing for you to do? Send out another query. And another. Then forget about them and start writing a new story…

When you do get some interest, contact the others you queried and let them know, because once one individual is interested, others follow suit.

It’s, like, “Far-out, man,” But true!

Good luck.

Headshot (JoAnn)J. M. DiVerdi has loved reading, writing and a clever turn of phrase her entire life. She’s written about cookies and for children, a perfect combo if there ever was one. She is thrilled to be a client of Linda P. Epstein’s at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency, indisputable proof, by the way, that her Query Theory works!

 

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Checklist to See if Your Manuscript is Ready for Submission

Check_Mark

1.  Can you confidently say what your story is about, in 3 sentences or less?

2.  Have you let your manuscript sit undisturbed for at least a few weeks, and then read it again?

3.  Are you finished sending it out to critique partners, beta readers, or helpful friends, with an “input welcome” sticky note attached?

4.  Is it the best work you are currently capable of?

If you have 4 check marks, you are ready. Now, write a kick-ass query letter, research the best literary agents for your work, and send your baby out into the world!

But wait! How do you know if you’ve written a kick-ass query letter? How do you know if the agents you’re sending it to are the best agents for your work? Well, you can read this to check in about your query and look at this about researching agents. Good luck!

 

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Open to Picture Books! Tentatively.

imgresIn case you missed the news back in 2013, I have two clients coming out with picture books in the next year! Ruth Horowitz, award winning author of Crab Moon and a bunch of other books for young readers, has a picture book coming out with Scholastic about Abel and Beatrice, two friends who raise apple trees and bees,  who get in an argument that escalates (in very silly ways), tentatively titled BEES IN THE TREES.

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Debut author Joe McGee has a picture book coming out with Abrams, about a zombie who would rather eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches than brains, tentatively titled PEANUT BUTTER AND BRAINS.

Both tentatively titled… yes, titles do change and sometimes it takes a while for publishers to commit to a title. And, apparently minds change, too. I’ve repeatedly said, “I don’t do picture books. I don’t do picture books. I don’t do picture books.” The problem is, when a project comes along that I LOVE, I have a hard time saying no. So….. I would like to tentatively declare that I am now open to picture books submissions.

BUT (and this is a big but!) please be aware that I am only interested in quirky, funny, off-beat, or high concept picture books. Do NOT send me your sweet, sappy, life lesson picture book manuscript. Do NOT send me your cute, saccharine, didactic issue-based picture book. If you’re not an illustrator, do NOT send me pictures (although I’m very interested in author/illustrator submissions).

And please know what a picture book manuscript should look like. That is to say, way less than 1000 words and only put in illustrator notes if they are integral to understanding your story.

There. I’ve said it.

Any questions?

 

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