While many publishing houses are closed to submissions, querying editors is still a possibility in some circumstances, and it can definitely lead to publication. Today we are celebrating Sub It Club member, Marcie Wessels and the release of her debut picture book! Marcie is here to tell us how she queried her editor directly and share her query letter for PIRATE’S LULLABY: MUTINY AT BEDTIME.

Marcie Wessels Color Author PhotoI began writing for children in Fall 2011. After taking a series of three classes at the University of California Extension, I attended SCBWI Editor’s Day in Orange County. One of the benefits of attending SCBWI events is the ability to submit a manuscript directly to an editor at a closed publishing house. After the conference, I decided to take a chance and submit a manuscript that felt like it might be a good match with one of the editors. Here is my query letter.

October 15, 2012

Frances Gilbert, Editorial Director
Doubleday Children’s Books
New York, NY  XXXXX

Dear Frances,

It was a pleasure to meet you at the SCBWI Editor’s Day in Orange County.  The revitalization of Doubleday’s children’s book list is exciting news!

Kids love pirates and characters like Captain Hook have captured the hearts and minds of generations of readers. Although there are a number of stories about pirates for older children, there are very few bedtime books about pirates for the 0-5 age group. My children’s picture book, A PIRATE LULLABY (180 words), fills this void in the children’s picture book market.

A PIRATE LULLABY is a lyrical bedtime tale in which young SLEEPYHEAD worries that he will miss out on fun filled swashbuckling adventures if he goes to sleep. PAPA PIRATE tucks him into bed and tries to reassure his son. The conversation between the two has a surprising result and pirate lovers young and old will delight in reading a twist on the classic bedtime routine.

Although I am a landlubber, I live near the ocean and come from seafaring stock; my grandparents lived on a lake and spent their days fishing while my parents owned a recreational sailboat. I am a former college professor and author of a Spanish language conversation textbook, Revista: conversación sin barreras (2nd edition, Vista Higher Learning, 2006), and several articles about Latin American film and literature. Currently, I am a stay-at-home mom who dedicates her time to writing for children. I am a member of SCBWI.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,

Marcie Wessels


PL CoverAlthough this query letter did not land me an offer, I did receive a very nice (and detailed) feedback letter with the offer to revise and resubmit. I spent three months revising and resubmitted in January 2013. By March, I had an offer. My debut picture book, PIRATE’S LULLABY: MUTINY AT BEDTIME (Doubleday BFYR), illustrated by Tim Bowers, releases on August 25, 2015.

Well done Marcie! Thank you for sharing with us. We love being able to share your great news! To celebrate the release of her debut picture book Marcie is giving away an autographed copy right here on the Sub It Club blog! All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on this post. Feel free to tweet/facebook/share this post and let us know in your comment for extra entries. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Entries close Monday, August 31st and we’ll announce the winner soon after. Good luck mateys!

Marcie Wessels received a B.A. in English and Spanish from John Carroll University, an M.A. in Spanish from Bowling Green State University and a Ph.D. in Latin American Literature from Tulane University. Pirate’s Lullaby: Mutiny at Bedtime (Doubleday BFYR), illustrated by Tim Bowers, is her first children’s picture book. She lives with her husband and their two children in San Diego, California. Find out more about Marcie and link up with her at her website marciewessels.com.

62 thoughts on “PIRATE’S LULLABY: MUTINY AT BEDTIME – A Query Letter That Worked

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  1. Marcie, Thank you for sharing your query letter. It’s exciting to read about your success with an editor. And I agree that your pirate PB fills a void. Tweeting!


  2. I am a bit of a voyeur when it comes to houses and query letters…LOL! I love seeing what people do with theirs, and try to learn what to apply to my own. Thanks for sharing what works and congratulations on your debut book!


      1. I don’t think I’ve seen Pat’s letter, so thank you for the link, Marcie! Embarrassingly, I think I have Lisa Cool’s book, but I thought it was for magazine queries so I’ve not looked at it in years (since the days when I submitted stuff to magazines). Thank you, also, for the reminder to check out that book again!


  3. Thank you for sharing your query and congratulations on your book!!! As an aside, I received my M.A. in French from Bowling Green State University! (small world) 😉


    1. Thanks, Keila! I feel so lucky to have been paired with the incredibly talented Tim Bowers. He did such an amazing job. He really captured the loving father and son relationship, the mischievous personality of Ned and included all sorts of wonderful little details that I’m sure kids and parents will enjoy.


  4. Love it! 😀 Thanks so much. And it’s releasing TOMORROW!!! Can’t wait to have a book doing that. The picture book I have sold is still awaiting an illustrator, so I’m not holding my breath about when I get to hold my book. So, tomorrow, I must go find your book.


    1. Congrats to you, Verlie! That’s wonderful news! Waiting is the hardest part (that and the whole writing thing). I think it took a year and a half from receiving the offer to seeing sketches (and I think that was an incredibly fast turn around time). But just wait, it’s such a wonderful and moving moment when you finally see the art.


  5. Congratulations Marcie! This sounds like a wonderful bedtime story to add to my “gifting” list. Thank you so much for sharing your letter and your inspiring publishing story.


    1. I really was so very lucky. I could have received a form rejection. I’m so grateful to my editor for her keen eyes. She saw potential in the manuscript and gave me feedback. The magic really happened in revision. BTW, I’m a big fan of your work. Such great expression and humor. My nine year old and I are reading Earthling! right now.


    1. The letter was only the second I had ever written. I’m a bit embarrassed by it but thought that it was worth sharing with the world. I give myself an A for personalizing but I could have polished my pitch and bio a bit more.


  6. Great interview Marcie. Thanks for sharing your query letter. The book sounds wonderful. I can’t wait to read it.


  7. This is brilliant, Marcie! Thank you so much for sharing your good news, as well as your journey to publication…so inspiring! You’ve laid out a common sense plan for all of us. 😉


  8. I love pirate picture books and this one is adorable. “Argh, me hearty. I want it!”

    Thanks for sharing your road to success. 🙂


  9. I did a random number generation and we have a winner:
    Congratulations WENDY ENGELMAN, you get the treasure! The autographed copy of PIRATE’S LULLABY: MUTINY AT BEDTIME is yours!


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