Otto Grows Down – A Query Letter That Worked!

Today we have a query letter for the amazing picture book, Otto Grows Down, by one of the members of the club, author Michael Sussman. Otto Grows Down is a fun story with a great hook. It was published by Sterling Publishing in 2009. Let’s take a look at Michael’s letter that lead to the sale:

Otto Grows Down

Dear Editor,

Jealous of the attention given his baby sister, Otto makes a birthday wish that she’d never been born. His wish comes true, leaving Otto stuck in a world in which Time runs backwards.

 On Fridays, his mom puts all their food in paper bags and delivers them to the supermarket. On Thursdays, Otto has to help bring in the garbage. As he grows down, Otto forgets how to read and play checkers, and has fewer and fewer words to speak with. It all comes down to his first birthday party—will Otto figure out how to reverse Time or will his first birthday be his last?

 Filled with humor and suspense, Otto Grows Down will ignite readers’ imaginations as it elicits curiosity concerning the mysteries of Time.

 I am a clinical psychologist and a published author. My first book, A Curious Calling: Unconscious Motivations for Practicing Psychotherapy, well-received in The New York Times Book Review, was a Main Selection for America’s largest psychotherapy-related book club. John Wiley & Sons published my second book, A Perilous Calling: The Hazards of Psychotherapy Practice.

 I have enclosed Otto Grows Down. Thanks for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.

What a hook! In the second paragraph Michael gave a taste of the story. And yes, he ends the paragraph with a question which we are often told is a no-no, but it works here and reads like a book jacket.

Michael’s stand alone sentence is a good one, in my opinion. Otto grows down really does ignite reader’s imaginations about the mysteries of time. (I, for one, have had many time related discussions after one of the family’s many rounds of reading Otto Grows Down.) He doesn’t try to pad it with extras, just states the fact.

Michael used the credits he had for his bio. No, they are not credits for the genre in which his manuscript is, but they do show that he can write, is a professional, and that he has an understanding of the publishing business.

Short, clear, and professional, the query letter describes the manuscript perfectly, leading to the publication of a great book!

Michael Sussman is also the author of the young adult novel, Crashing Eden. You can find out more about Michael at his website


6 thoughts on “Otto Grows Down – A Query Letter That Worked!

Add yours

  1. Oh, yes–what a hook! We can all learn a lot from this query letter. Thanks, Heather for posting and analyzing it and thanks to Michael for sharing.


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