There’s always a short cut. You can steep a perfect cup of tea, or you dunk a bag in microwaved water in 45 seconds. Not a perfect cup, but you can drink it. You can let your yeast dough rise under a damp cloth or you can pop a freezer loaf into the oven. It tastes like bread. But it won’t have that memorable lasting aroma. Some things just take longer if you want perfection.
For writers who spend months perfecting their manuscript, the short cut is often the query letter. Recently I received a reply from a submission. It was rejected because they have that line through 2015. However, the letter raved about the query letter. Her opening line was congratulations on a very nice query letter. Well done, she said; a pleasure to read; an excellent query letter. I felt like I’d won the lottery. What made this query stand out and get this publisher’s attention? I compare it to many others I’ve written, and see hardly any difference; nearly the same, yet not quite.
Two weeks later a publisher accepted a three-book series for children based only on the query letter. She hadn’t seen the manuscript. When I compare this query to previous ones, I don’t see any one thing stand out.
It’s the overall package I think makes the difference. It’s the difference between a steeping and rising or a quick trip to the microwave that makes a difference. It’s all the small, seemingly insignificant things, including format and tone. It’s following to the minuscule guideline, and the same amount of polish as you use on a manuscript.
Most submissions are electronic. The email habit is a quick memo, no proofing, no format, no formality; the short cut. The query is not the place to short cut. Everything depends on its perfection.
**************(Please note that Deanna mentioned an illustrator because the publisher had requested input on illustrations, she had previously worked with him, and he was known to the publisher. It's VITAL that you play by the rules--and completely follow a publisher's guidelines.)
Please consider the following works which are completed and edited for line and content.
Little Beth Books
This is a series of storybooks for very young children. Beth's Birds is a "bird identification" book with little Beth physically displaying the various bird's attitudes. Beth and the Night is an explanation of the night noises that are frightening until she knows what they really are. Beth's Backyard Friends is an identity book of the small mammals that frequent backyards, told by Beth, of course.
Beth's Birds has been illustrated by an artist in Melbourne, Australia. They are beautiful chalk drawings and remarkable birds. However, if the books are to be done as a series, they should have all the same artwork done by the same artist. I do have an illustrator to work with. He's also created two of my covers.
To celebrate her winning query, Deanna is giving away a copy of her young adult book, Cracks in the Ice.
Leave me a comment with your email address (if you don't think I have it) and I will put your name in the hat. Winner will be drawn on Saturday, September 7.