No pressure, right?
There are not too many examples of Queries for Picture Books. So let’s look at what works.
Actual Query that sold DONNA IS EVIL-coming out in 2014.
A suspicious young boy has a very odd neighbor, Donna. He is convinced that she is evil. He spies on Donna and everything points to her being evil.
One day Donna needs help and he realizes that Donna isn't so bad, in fact she might even be...good.
DONNA IS EVIL is complete at 405 words.
I am a member of the SCBWI.
Thank you for your time.
Is this perfect? HELL NO. But it is short and to the point. Your query shouldn’t be longer than your story. You can have a less than perfect query if your story grabs them. Now with more experience I mention the age range that the book is targeting. I expanded my Bio paragraph with published work and other bookish things I’m involved with.
This was direct to a publisher and I had nothing personal to add the way I do for agents I submit to. So if I were rewriting this now, older and wiser, it would go something like this.
Dear VERY SPECIFIC AND CORRECTLY SPELLED AGENT NAME:
A suspicious young boy has a very odd neighbor, Donna. He is convinced that she is evil. He spies on Donna and everything points to her being evil. One day Donna needs help and he realizes that Donna isn't so bad, in fact she might even be...good.
DONNA IS EVIL is complete at 405 words and geared to ages 4 to 8.
I am a member of SCBWI, the 12x12 Challenge, and I host the blog Reading, Writing, and Reaching for Chocolate at junesmalls.blogspot.com. My debut Picture Book DONNA IS EVIL, is scheduled for publication in 2014 with MeeGenius. I also write MG and have other PB titles available.
Thank you for your time.
Note that some agents prefer the:
Hook, Book, Cook. That is to say; the Hook (Quick Pitch) of your story, the details of the story, and the Bio of who wrote the story. Some WANT to know that you’ve looked them up personally. Say, either before the hook or at the book detail info why you like them, when you met them, or what books compare to your work.
Keep it professional, keep it real, and keep it around 250 words or less.
Check out agent blogs and guideline before you submit. Some are crazy specific. Font, size, layout, etc. are specified on their guidelines. Whether or not to attach a doc or paste the story in the email. This is like your first test. CAN YOU FOLLOW DIRECTIONS? Please pass this test!
Best of luck with your queries and remember that rejection letters are battle scars. They hurt and some feel ugly, but you earned them by going out and fighting for your book. I have dozens and I keep each and every one, even form rejections. No one in the writing world publishes without some rejections.
If anyone out there would like to share a PB query that worked, I’d love to share it so others may learn.