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  1. #1
    (just call me) McHarris
    Guest

    How to write THAT all important letter

    I need your help please.

    I am at the stage of looking for a publisher for my completed children's book. I KNOW that the query letter is ALL important. Would some of you who have been through this before me, offer advice please? here is what I thought I would write...... have I got it right? what else needs to be put in / taken out / altered?

    You can email me me mc@harris.net if you have the time to work with my teaxt and make alterations or suggestion.

    I appreciate your help. (how should I end the letter?)

    Thanks McHarris


    I am an unpublished children’s writer, with a manuscript I would appreciate you considering. Ferdinand and Friends Froggie Tales It is written for children ages 4 – 8 years old in an entertaining and informative way.

    The inhabitants of Reedy Pond are changing: “Where has my tail gone? Why am I growing legs? What is happening to me? Just a few of the questions one imagines a tadpole might ask itself as it takes its first wobbly steps out onto dry land. Why do frogs croak and shed their skin? What happens when the pond becomes stagnant and slimy? Why should tadpoles be returned to nature once they become frogs? What is an albino frog?

    All these issues are dealt with in the Tales Ferdinand and his Friends share with the reader.

    The manuscript has been read over by many parents of home schooled children where I live, and they seem impressed that it teaches as well as entertains the children. This is what these parents personally look for in the books they buy.

    Each story is complete in itself but flows naturally to the following one. With some good illustrations they would make wonderful eye catching story books. I am not an illustrator but have seen first hand what pictures can do for stories of this genre.

    Double spaced, the page count is 80 (pages) to the manuscript. A Total of some 15,000 (approximately) words. Not just words, but stimulating, informative and funny stories, that will help children gain a good perspective on the wonders of frogs in nature.



  2. #2
    Kaz
    Guest

    Re: How to write THAT all important letter

    Dear Jane E. Agent:

    The inhabitants of Reedy Pond are changing: Where has my tail gone? Why am I growing legs? What is happening to me? Just a few of the questions one imagines a tadpole might ask itself as it takes its first wobbly steps out onto dry land. Why do frogs croak and shed their skin? What happens when the pond becomes stagnant and slimy? Why should tadpoles be returned to nature once they become frogs? What is an albino frog?

    Ferdinand and Friends Froggy Tales answer these questions and more for children ages four through eight-years of age.

    Parents of home schooled children are impressed that it teaches as well as entertains children. This is what these parents look for to encourage reading and learning.

    Each story is complete in itself, but flows naturally into the following one. With colorful illustrations they could be eye-catching story books. I am not an illustrator, but I have seen first hand what pictures can do for stories of this genre.

    Ferdinand and Friends Froggy Tales has approximately 15,000 words. Not just words, but stimulating, informative, and funny stories, formulated to help children gain a good perspective on the wonders of frogs in nature.

    Thank you for your consideration. I will be happy to send excerpts, or the complete manuscript for your perusal either as an email attachment or as hard copy to your mailing address.

    Best wishes,



    McHarris

    -----------------------------------------------------------

    Hi McHarris,

    Do remember when composing this to put your book title in italics. This forum doesn't have the editing features to do this. Good luck with this. It certainly piqued my interest.

    Regards, Kaz

  3. #3
    Bly Oxford
    Guest

    Re: How to write THAT all important letter

    McHarris,
    This info is taken from SCBWI's guide for writers.
    Genre of Book Number of Manuscript pages
    Board Book 1/2-1
    Picture Book 2-3
    Picture story book 6-9
    (Some respondents indicated they had done longer picture books (5-10 pages) and picture story books (up to 15 pages) but recognized that shorter is better.
    Your book is much too long for even an Easy-reader book-10 to 20 pages of manuscript.
    I advise you to go to your library and read nature books for this age before you spend time and money contacting agents, and then we can work on the query letter.
    But all is not lost. You must have done considerable research, so pare the research done to size for the early reader or write a book for older children.
    It's a tough business.
    Bly

  4. #4
    Pamela Taylor
    Guest

    Re: How to write THAT all important letter

    Umm... I think Bly missed that the manuscript actually consists of several stories, that could be published serially, or together in one book, like Frog and Toad, or Aesop's Fables. I do think, that you might fare better if you emphasized that point a little more strongly.

    Anyway, I sent you an email with a detailed critique (which was significantly different than Kaz's). If you don't get it please let me know and I'll resend.

    Pamela

  5. #5
    (just call me) McHarris
    Guest

    a BIG thank you for all your suggestions

    You have all been most helpfull... gee I find it so hard to encapsulate and then SELL my work....

    Yes it is a series... there are several (8 in all) short frog pond tales. They would make individual books, or a collection of stories. From what I have been reading on the web, publishers are all picture booked out! I don't know the reality of this, so I thought I would offer the complete series. If I am published (wow!!!) I guess the editor will decide in what format.

    If anyone is a Children's Writer and would offer further critique of my work, I would be happy to discuss sending them to you for comment. I am not mailing the manuscript or query letters off immediately, as I am still researching available publishers and their specific requirements. AND I am always open to furth critique from my peers.

    Thanks again..... McHarris

  6. #6
    Helene Keough
    Guest

    Re: a BIG thank you for all your suggestions

    Geez, McHarris,

    Although I know nothing about children's books, I cannot imagine that young chidren will ever grow tired of looking at pictures. That seems almost ludicrous, as they are at an age where connecting images to words is so important.

    Kaz did a lovely job of smoothing your query letter in places. It is odd, at first anyway, to condense your work into a few descriptive paragraphs, but I think you did a great job.

    Good luck!

    Hel

  7. #7
    Gran
    Guest

    Picture Books, et al

    Although picture books will always be produced, some trends are pretty set right now. Length of a picture book = under 500 words for most editors. My pb started at 800 words, shopped around by a well-known agent (which mostly means I get very interesting chatty rejections). It got lots of praise for the writing but was way too long. Right now it is 500 words long and being considered by one of the larger houses -- though the editor frets that it is too long to get past the whole editorial process (which includes marketing people these days). The ONLY reason they are considering such a long book is because it is a good match with a illustrator they have on board and are looking for a book for.

    Now, an early chapter book consists of a number of individual chapters (sometimes which are more or less complete unto themselves.) I have one of these also for the target age of this frog book...which is just a tad long at 9000 words.

    Basically, this long book (or book series) is going to be incredibly tough to get by an editor -- virtually impossible at a "traditional" publishing house. However, there are educational publishers who might consider it as a series of short readers (especially with the homeschool interest tie-in). You need to be certain they are stories first and lessons second. You need to be certain the language you use is simple enough for beginning readers because the whole frog life cycle thing is taught pretty early (I believe). Have you looked at some of the educational publishers whose books are particularly popular with homeschoolers? That might give you a place to begin.

    Gran

  8. #8
    Carmella
    Guest

    Re: Picture Books, et al

    I second what Gran said. The story,as it, is too long. An educational publisher might be a great way to go. Also, a few other thoughts I had when reading your letter - don't start off with "I'm unpublished." It won't matter if your story is exceptional. Don't mention that teachers/homeschooling parents in your area love it. Unless you've tested the book with A LOT of educators and students, this won't impress an editor. (If you've tested the book with a wide audience, put the numbers in your letter.) And don't mention illustrations at all; don't say you're not an illustrator or that art would enhance the story. One, publishers like to match writers and illustrators themselves so it's unnessary (and, in fact, undesirable) to submit art with your book. Two, publishers already know how important pictures are.

    Good luck! It sounds like an interesting project.

  9. #9
    E.N.
    Guest

    Bly is correct

    children's books have super-strict guidelines, and those manuscripts that don't adhere to those guidelines will be rejected. no ifs, ands, or buts.

    McHarris, check out write4kids.com. It is a site dedicated to the children's book writer and offers a multitude of helpful information, from query letters, to genre guidelines, to a message board, which is frequented by many published children's book writers, such as Verla Kay.

    Luck with the frogs. It sounds like a book my 6 yr old would love!

    EN

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