Edit My Query Letter

For those of you who also read Kate’s Bookshelf, sorry for the double post.

Good morning, my lovelies.  I have a challenge for all of my readers, or  the ones that care to comment.  Below you will see my query letter that I hope to get out to a few literary agents this week.  Provided that my letter is actually decent.  I wrote last week that I had a goal of submitting a couple query letters by my birthday.  Since my birthday fell on the weekend, I am fudging the actual time of letters being sent out.

Digressing some, but in regards to birthdays, think about this.  “Have you realized that your age is the number of times you’ve been around the sun?”  I read this on Tumblr earlier today.  What a motivating, exciting and well just thought provoking idea.  I’ve done my fair share of traveling having gone around the sun 31 times.  How many miles is that?  Well, in one year I travel 585 million miles.  Whew, I don’t even want to add that up.  It’s a bit astounding to think that I have ‘technically’ traveled that many miles.

Anyways, back to my query letter.  Feel free to take a harsh look at it as I will take each idea and play around with my letter.  I just need an outside opinion.  Does this make you want to read the manuscript?  If not, then I need to work on the letter.  If you would rather not leave comments, feel free to email me at  [kate_wordpress@hotmail.com]

Here goes:

Dear Blank,

I am querying you along with one other agency in the hopes that I have something to pique your interest.

When a girl loves hats as much as Lulu does, she has to have one for every occasion.  However, out of all the hats Lulu owns, she is lacking a fancy hat to wear when she goes out for ice cream on Sundays.  Lulu enlists the help of her best friend, Mimi, and the two of them scour the city looking for the perfect hat.  From large floppy hats to tiny ones that look incredibly silly, Lulu tries on everything without any luck.  Some hats are too big and others are too expensive.  Just when Lulu and Mimi are about to give up and go home, they spot one last shop they haven’t tried.  Does Lulu find her hat?  Of course! Because a girl has to have a hat for every occasion.

Lulu Buys A Hat is an unillustrated picture book complete at 1089 words, geared towards little girls, which is clear from the hat theme.  Hats are one of those quintessential items girls seem to naturally love, so I chose to write about a girl finding a hat after the experience of looking for my own hat.

I have been writing various things for 15 years, including managing two blogs, however I choose to write children’s fiction as a career, drawing from experiences in life.  I also draw on years of reading picture book at my home, grandparents, and many trips to the library.  While I want there to be the fanciful quality, I also like stories to have some realism included. Something a child can relate to when they read.

So, there you have it.  Again, I am open to any suggestion you want to give.  And thank you for taking the time to read this.

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A Bevy Of Letters

Usps mail box

Usps mail box (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well readers, sorry for the long delay in any new posts.  My health has been on a decline for the month so I’ve been out of writing commission.  However, I am going to attempt to get back into the swing of things. 

So the topic for today?  Ta da! Query letters, again.  Yeah, I know, I know, I talk about them quite a lot.  You could say I’m slightly obsessed.

Well, recently, Walter gave me some great advice that I find behooves me to listen.  His suggestion after watching the movie The Help, and hearing that Kathryn Stockett had to submit to 60 agents before her book got picked up, was to quit stressing about one or two agents and just start submitting to anyone interested in children’s picture books.

Now, for those of you who have read any books or posts on trying to get an agent, well that is pretty much the advice. Tailor your letter to the agent, and then just start sending out letters.  Granted, make sure you submit only to agents who would be interested in what you write.  But submit.  I got lost in the whole idea of finding one agent I liked the sound of.  That was some advice from literary agent Steven Malk.  I read an interview with him and in it he suggested looking for an agent that fits you.  Now, I think this sounds really marvelous.  You want to have someone selling your book that gets you.  However, if they like your book, and they want to sell it, won’t they like you?  Because what you write is who you are.  So, maybe stressing about trying to find my agent, I should worry more about being out there so that agent can find me.  How can an agent know about me if I don’t throw myself out there?  (By the way, selling myself and throwing myself out there are not two phrases I’m too good with. I am not that type of person)

So, my new goal is to start writing query letters for the three manuscripts I do have done, and just to start collecting a list of agents that do represent children’s books.  Kind of a feat unto itself, but doable.  And for once, I don’t feel this utter panic that I haven’t been submitting.

Course the downside to this is I have all these ideas for letters, but no juice to write. Sitting down and writing right now is probably going to take its tole.  Well, one does what one must.

So, onward to a bevy of letters. Hopefully.

Writing on

~K.L.B.

So Is the Next Four Months?

I sat down with Walter and Mrs. Day the other day at the kitchen table, asking for advice.  I feel this insane rushed pressure to get a query letter out NOW.  I feel like I’m just puttering around not getting anywhere.

Well, fortunately these two have the voice of reason, and the next half hour discussion really helped me tone my mental thoughts down. 

See, I have another agent in my arsenal that I have hopes of querying.  However, I haven’t been able to do a ton of research on him, and I would like to.  Problem is, most of the authors he has represented, do not seem to have books in my library system.  (Turns out I was wrong and found at least one of the authors he represents)  I feel like I should read some of the things he’s represented so I know what his style is.  Then I know whether or not I should go with him or not. 

 I am not a believer in just submitting query letters to random agents.  You are going to be working closely with this person, and good chance they will be with you through your writing career.  Besides, I want someone who wants to work with me like that. I want someone who will also help me with my manuscripts.  This agent sounds like someone who would like that.

So, for the next few months, while I will continue the heart-clenching-boy-I-hate-this-letter query letter, I will also work on researching this other agent.  You all might find it interesting that both agents I like, are named ‘Stephen’.  And yes, that spelling.  It’s sort of weird. 

Well, I’m still sort of panicking.  I am good at the panicking.  However, I am less stressed.   Now if I could lose the self-doubt that my books are just mediocre.  I wish I had more faith in my children’s books like I do with my flash fiction.  Oh well.

Writing on

~K.L.B.

They Shredded My Letter?

They must have one of these in their back rooms….

So, last week I posted on my rejection letter….  Well I called the agency to find out if they keep my letter on file.  I figure, if they do, then I want to tailor my letter a little bit differently.  Turns out, they don’t keep the letters they’ve rejected.  Nope. 

 
Instead, they shred them.  Shred them!  My letter was shredded!  That pretty letter that was printed several times on nice new computer paper that is higher quality.  Edited up the ying yang so that there were no mistakes.  Pretty signature.  Oh it was a gorgeous query letter.  And they shredded it.
 
I understand that they can’t keep every letter.  Can you imagine the files?  It would be a mess.  I mean, the reason I got the form letter was due to the amount of submissions they are getting.  But it is just kind a heart stopping thought.
 
Well, at least I know that I probably have to go with the same greeting when I send a new letter, and as that took forever to figure out, I’m glad it’s done.
 
The hardest part, at least I think, for the query letter is the pitch and synopsis.  I’m never sure how to write it.  I can’t even imagine having to condense a novel into a small synopsis.  I’m having a hard enough time picking the highlight points of a picture book.
 
So, tomorrow is a new week.  I shall start to work on the new letter tomorrow.  As in, this new week and tomorrow is the start of a new week.  I had little parts of a letter started at the beginning of the year, because this new story was the one I had planned to submit.  Maybe it would have been accepted then. I don’t know. I don’t know why I decided to finally go the direction I did.
 
Well, all I know is it’s a new week.  New promises, new hopes, and new ideas.  Moving forward is good.  As much as I’d like to wallow in my rejection and say I quit, I don’t want to be like all those other people who have told me they’ve written something, submitted it, been rejected, then just gave up.  Kathryn Stockett submitted The Help 60 times before she was finally accepted.  One little rejection letter is nothing if this woman submitted queries sixty times.  That takes guts.  That takes grit and stamina.  That takes the will to succeed.  I like to think that I have that will.
 
So, this is just a continuation of my post the other day. 
 
Writing on
 
~K.L.B.

I’ve Joined The Ranks

Well writers, it’s official.  I have joined the ranks of proud owner of a rejection letter.  I don’t know whether to frame the letter of have a good cry.  (for the record I plan to frame the letter, and I already had a good cry, or two… wait, part of that was the onions I was chopping for dinner…..)

It was a long shot that my first query would make a go.  Hopeful, yes, but still a long shot.  I shall triumph though.  I will not stop querying this agent until I have no more manuscripts under my belt.  I know that you all may think I’m insane, but I know this is the agent I want.  And while the first thing I queried him with didn’t work, that doesn’t mean something else of mine won’t.

Now, my thoughts today circled around the fact that lots of people have had rejections.  Rejections make you stronger.  You learn from what you might have done wrong.  Some people have had to query lots of times.  Bla bla bla.  Yeah sure, but really, the thing boils down to:  rejection hurts.  Talk about a downer for the day.

Richard Castle (yes I know he’s fake, but Nathan Fillion does make him so much more real…)  Kept his first rejection letter, framed to remind him of where he’s come from.  That’s what I plan to do.  In some ways I’m proud of my rejection letter.  It means I took the steps to put my work out there.  While it may suck, it’s part of the process.  This isn’t some fly by night fling I have with writing.  This isn’t a game.  This is what I want my career to be. I want a business card that has my name and writer underneath. 

Oh, note to self:  don’t open self-addressed stamped envelopes that have an agency on the from line, in town where all kinds of people can see your face fall, your eyes fill up with tears and a sense of loss.  Talk about embarrassing. 

Yup, uh, that was me today.  No, there weren’t all kinds of people, but there was one friend.  I read the letter and my father asked me what was up.  Of course I couldn’t quite get the words out, so I just sort of waved the paper around in some sort of “please grab this from me” fashion and attempted to keep my mascara from running.  I think I managed, and all, but, well, I won’t do that again.

Oh, and for the record,  an SASE is not a good thing from an agency.  You pretty much should know right off the bat that it’s a rejection letter.

On the upside, I do have other manuscripts.  This agent turned down the first letter of an author he represents, and the rejection letter, while being a form letter, was incredibly kind and personal.  I almost had to reread it a few times to see where the ‘form letter’  part was.  I finally found it with the ‘Dear Author’.  LOL  (yes, I just did that stupid acronym. Sue me)

So, onwards.  I shall attempt a new letter, and in the hopes of sending it off this year.  Not next, but this year.  The first query took me over a year to write.  I won’t do that again.  Besides, I probably don’t need to fill in this query with all the same back info.  Course, I don’t know if they will keep my query on file, but I kind of hope they do.

Writing on
~K.L.B.

My Reasons For Not E-publishing

A Picture of a eBook

Give me a book any day, I HATE ebooks! (Image via Wikipedia)

 Just yesterday Mrs. Austen asked me if I had ever considered  publishing my children’s books as ebooks.  I thought I would take the time to delve into that answer here.

Now, first off, I don’t want to offend anyone that has an ebook.  Albert Berg, I think it’s great that you are doing it.  Mrs. Austen, if you want to go that direction, I support you 100%.

For me, I have never considered ebooks.  Now, they haven’t been out for very long, so you wouldn’t think I would have such a strong opinion about this, but I do.  Personally I hate ebooks.  I hate the Kindle, Nook, Ipad, etc.  I wish they had never been invented.  I will not ever do an ebook if I don’ t have to. 

Part of that stems from the fact that I don’t feel that an ebook you publish yourself is really being published.  For me, the whole journey to saying I am an author is going through the process of agent, publisher, editor, and actually having a book in my hands in the end.  To me, that is being published.  Anyone can e-publish (is that even a term?)  You can sell them on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble has a place as well.  Along with other various places.  I’m sure for some people it is great.  They get their work out and I’m betting some of them do actually go somewhere with their work.

To me though, there is a reason for the original process.  It weeds out the mediocre writers.  Query letters are a test to whether or not you will make it.  If you can’t get through the query letter, and the rejections and the perfection, then maybe, you are not ready for the publishing process. 

I was discussing this the other day with Mrs. Day.  That the query letter process weeds out the people who can’t get out a letter.  Or give up after sending it out once and being rejected.  Now, granted, I was accepted by one of the first companies I sent my work off to, but I was unable to continue. I have spent the last two years researching literary agents, agencies, whether or not I wanted to try my hand at submitting a query to a publishing company and many other avenues.  It has been a lot of hard work.  I was sick to death of my letter.  I was sick to death of thinking about it.  If I never have to see it again it will be too soon.  Okay, that’s not quite right as I will showcase it if my manuscript is actually accepted.

Suffice to say, the publishing process is a lot of work, and sometimes people are not as driven to deal with the world of traditional publishing.

Now, please, people, I’m not criticizing you.  I’m sure some of you are really great writers, (Albert Berg, I think you are great, even if your stuff makes me cringe) but to me, being published, means actually being published.

I’d say this is a pretty strong point for why I do not plan to e-publish(I’ll just use that word)  For those that want to, I wish you the best of luck. From what I’ve seen, promoting yourself is a lot of hard work as well.  Both avenues of publishing have a lot of work involved in them.  Both different, but still hard. 

Does anyone have an opinion on publishing an ebook?  I’d love to hear about it.

~K.L.B.