You have written your picture book manuscript. It has been revised and it has been through several edits. You are ready to submit your manuscript to an agent or publisher, but there’s one more step. You need to write a query letter.
A query letter is a letter written for literary agents or editors asking if they would like to read your manuscript. Query letters are an introduction and a tease of your book. A query letter is an important step in getting an agent/editor to read your manuscript.
The Layout of a Picture Book Query
When writing a picture book query there are four main parts, namely, the introduction, the pitch, the bio and the closing. Since most agents ask that the picture book manuscript be included in the submission, writing a lenthy query letter for a short manuscript is not necessary.
- Make sure you specifically address the agent you are querying (use Mr. or Ms. [last name]). Be sure you have spelled their name correctly.
- Personalize to the agent. Why are you querying this agent with this story? You should make a connection with your book and this agent/editor.
- You can also include here the TITLE of your story (in all caps or Italics, not both), the word count and the age-range. Age-range is important, it shows you know your target audience.
- There are 3 main purposes of a pitch. The first is to capture the story and spirit of your book, to pique an agent or editor’s interest and to show that you can write well. A picture book pitch is not a summary or a book blurb.
- Advice from agents/editors is that picture book queries should be short and simple. Try to aim for three sentences for the pitch. Five sentences at the very maximum.
- No need to write an elaborate children’s picture book query letter. Just present the main characters, the main problem, and the resolution. There’s no need to tell how your characters get to that point—you want to leave the agent/editor intrigued and wanting to read your manuscript.
- You can find several formats online for writing a picture book pitch. You can decide which pitch format best matches with your manuscript.
- Along with the pitch, you can include comparative picture book titles. Comp titles in query letters are essential. Titles of published books that are similar or comparable to your manuscript are used to help a literary agent get a feel for where your book fits in the market. One or two books at most can be included. More about comparative books in my next post.
- Include any publishing credits or awards
- Only include items that are relevant to writing picture books.
- You can also include any relevant writing education. s
- Include if you are a member of SCBWI or 12 x 12 or any other significant associations.
- If you have other manuscripts that are ready, you may add that in your closing.
- Thank them for their time and consideration.
- Don’t forget to include your contact details under your sign off. Contact details go after your signature.
As you can see, there are specific rules to follow when writing a query letter. It is important that your letter is professional, concise and error free. You should check out the submission page too. Each agent/editor might be looking for additional information or want you to submit in a specific way.
Publishing a children’s book is quite the adventure, and once you’ve made it this far you really are approaching the finishing line. So keep going, because children need to read your book.
With gratitude …
I am so glad you’re here. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I am grateful that I can share my writing journey with you. It is an endless journey of learning and growing. A journey that I am enjoying.
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