Bedtime Monster – A Query Letter that Worked

One of the features we’ve planned for the Sub It Club blog is…

Sub It Success!

It’s helpful to read query letters that worked, so we’ll be asking writers to share their query letters that led to them to success. What is success? For the purpose of this Sub It Success blog series it’s a query that garnered requests, helped an author obtain representation, or of course, led to a book sale. Since I’ll be asking others to share I thought it would be only fair if I started by sharing myself.

The sale of my picture book, BEDTIME MONSTER, to Raven Tree Press started with a short query letter:

Dear Ms. Jeffers:

What kid wants to go to bed? Paul doesn’t. When it’s time for bed he turns into a real monster. But his parents understand, Dad used to be a little monster too–and he has the tail to prove it.

My picture book manuscript, Bedtime Monster, is an over-the-top story of a common occurrence–the bedtime tantrum. When Paul doesn’t want to go to bed, his feelings become so monstrous that he physically changes into a monster. Paul’s metamorphosis provides ample opportunity for artistic interpretation.

My chapter reader, Chocolate! A Library Adventure, is scheduled to be released this fall from Country Messenger Press. I am a librarian and member of SCBWI.

You will find Bedtime Monster attached. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Heather Burnell

Bedtime Monster by Heather Ayris Burnell

Are there things I would change about this letter now? Well, I do see an unnecessary “that” in there.

Things I did right? I used the editor’s name. I came up with a short, catchy hook. Β I used the credits I had at the time to create a short bio.

I can’t remember how long it took me to write this letter but I do know that I wrote it, let it sit, and edited it until I felt it was ready to go. I also did my publisher research. I started by sending to three publishers, and waited patiently.Β I got two requests, and made one sale. Now, I want to say that this is probably unusual. Many, many great books are submitted many, many more times than that before they find a home. So keep calm and query on!

Just a little FYI for those of you who haven’t sold a book yet; waiting to hear back on your query letter is only the beginning. My patience was tested through a long acquisitions process. Illustration not once, but twice. And the subsequent pushing forward of my publication date…a few times.

The best thing you can do? Keep on writing, even after you find subbing success!

15 thoughts on “Bedtime Monster – A Query Letter that Worked

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  1. That was awesome. What a great idea. How do we submit our letters? This site is a bit hard to navigate. I can’t seem to figure out how to get to certain places, like there aren’t enough tabs across top or links or something. Should we e-mail you guys?

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  2. Our navigaton for the site here is up across the top of the page. We have “blog, about the club, your partners in submission”, “and join the club”. I haven’t put out a call for letters, I was just going to ask people personally. But, if you want to do one just let me know. You have my email.

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  3. Thanks, Heather. I have read that you should start your query with a statement about why you’re submitting to the particular US agent and/or editor. For UK enquiries, they don’t ask to hear all the flattery. I see in your letter that you just jumped right in and got to the story. I would think that would be preferred, especially with all the letters agents and editors receive, they don’t have time to read all the extra fluff.

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  4. Hi Heather! Your query letter is a very good example and very helpful. πŸ™‚ I have several picture books stories “sleeping” in my drawer and I would love to start my own query letter. Hope you guys could also check it out and critique it. Thank you!

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  5. Great letter, obviously. One phrase that is a real winner is, “provides ample opportunity for artistic interpretation”.

    This probably showed the editor that Heather was a pro, that she understood that the writer had to make room for the illustrator to do her job and she would be easy to work with.

    Very well-thought-out query letter!

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