Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Query Letter Question

(Wow, I haven't posted for a while. How did that happen? Anyway.)

Hello, again! I'm back, at least for a little while. I'm going to be pretty busy this next week with packing so our family can get ready to move into our new house next week (!!!). I feel like we're getting ready for this fantastic journey, when in reality we're moving two minutes down the road. But hey, a new house, however far away it is, is still an adventure! (I think my brother is most excited about the intercom system.)

But I'm getting distracted. I have a question for anybody out there that has advice for me. It's about query letters. When writing a query letter for a picture book, should you tell the agent everything that happens in the book, ending and all, or not? For example, should I write:

Casper is a ghost. He’s also hungry. He wants a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but there’s a slight problem. He’s out of peanut butter.


Casper is a ghost. He’s also hungry. He wants a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but there’s a slight problem. He’s out of peanut butter. Casper is willing to try anything he can think of to fix this, and he does. Once he’s able to get his hands on some peanut butter, though, he discovers a new problem. He used up all the jelly.

I've never queried a picture book before, so I'm not sure what to do. I'm open to suggestions, so please comment away!


Boquinha said...

I don't know, but can I add a question? Do you writers get nervous about putting your stories out there and ever worry about them being stolen? I mean, writers, on the whole are an amazingly supportive and GOOD lot of people, but do you ever worry about that sort of thing?

The Magic Violinist said...

@Boquinha There's always that little bit of doubt in the back of my mind (which is why I never post my entire story online), but writers are generally very good, supportive people. Plus, it's hard enough to get an agent/publisher who wants to publish your story, that someone finding yours, stealing it, and getting it published is very unlikely. (Though still possible, which is why writers have to be careful about sharing their work online too freely!)

Sindari Visrin said...

Greetings! I'm a teenage author and violinist too, and I'd just like to take a minute to say that I enjoy your blog. Very much.
Now, down to business. According to Query Shark and a few other sites, when querying a picture book you should include the entire text of the book instead of a summary, being as picture books tend to be short. Not being a real picture-book author myself, I can't personally confirm this, but it sounds accurate.
Hope this helps!

The Magic Violinist said...

@Sindari Visrin Thanks for stopping by! :) I'm glad you like it.

Ooh, that's actually very helpful. Query Shark is a great site. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

*lurks to see what advice people give because she herself has many half-written drafts of picture books*
So, thanks for the advice, Sindari Visrin!

@Boquinha: Yeah... all the time. My parents keep telling me to post samples of my work on my blog or on Wattpad (a story-sharing site), etc, and I'm not so sure about it. People could plagiarize it! And... I've heard that sometimes publishers aren't as keen to even consider your stuff if there's large sections of it online - because people can read it without buying the book.

The Magic Violinist said...

@nevillegirl XD Maybe we could help each other out sometime, since we're both newbies at this.

Huh, I'd never heard that. That makes sense, though.

Dr. Mark said...

I wonder if with how fast the publishing world is changing if publishers are going to have to change their rules a bit. With the advent of easily-accessible self-publishing (especially e-publishing), and social media helping with self-promotion, it's so easy to go around the traditional publishing route first. I know getting a big book deal based on a self-published work is a huge long shot, but querying agents and submitting manuscripts doesn't seem to have much better odds. Of course, I know far less than you do, so take anything I say with a grain (or a thousand) of salt.