A Query Letter That Worked from Ariel Bernstein + a Slush Pile Pass & 2 Critique Giveaways!

If you keep up with us here on the blog, you may have seen that Ariel Bernstein had some amazing news in 2015. Not only did she sign with agent Mary Cummings of Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises, she signed a deal for her picture book, I HAVE A BALLOON, with Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman books as well as a two book chapter book deal with Viking for WARREN & DRAGON’S 100 FRIENDS!


1 cake bgToday Ariel is here to share a little bit about her query process along with the query letter she used that connected her with her agent. Plus, since we’re celebrating 3 years of Sub It Club this month,
Ariel is giving away a picture book manuscript critique and a query letter critique! Her agent is jumping in also and is awarding one lucky winner a slush pile pass! That’s 3 separate giveaways with opportunities for picture book, middle grade, and young adult manuscripts. More on that later. First, let’s hear from Ariel:

2/18/2016 Update – Thank you to everyone who entered. I so appreciated all of the kind words about Sub It Club and appreciated all the sharing you did. We had so many entries! After much counting and calculating, we have winners! I am so excited for them! The winners are:

Query letter critique: MD Knabb

Picture Book Manuscript Critique: Marlaina Grey

Slush Pass from Agent Mary Cummings: Tracey Brown

A huge THANK YOU to Ariel and Mary for the fantastic giveaways to help us celebrate!

Even if you’re too late to enter, you’ll still want to read our guest post from author Ariel Bernstein:

Ariel BernsteinWhen I first started querying agents, I read their agency website profiles and tried to find as many online interviews as I could to research what they were looking for. I often came across requests for picture books with ‘humor’ and ‘voice.’ Since I felt my picture book, I HAVE A BALLOON, has both, I highlighted that in the first sentence.

In the second paragraph, I wanted to show what the book is about without giving away the ending. I also tried to match the tone of the book to how I described it, although it’s a little hard to explain what I mean without showing the text! I picked a contemporary picture book, Bob Shea’s UNICORN THINKS HE’S PRETTY GREAT, as my comp because I felt my book had the same sort of ‘silly humor’ and would appeal to a similar audience.

For the bio paragraph, I tried to keep it focused on my writing background and what I was currently working on.

Dear Ms. Cummings,

I am writing to submit my picture book, I HAVE A BALLOON, in hopes its humorous story and distinct voice match what you’re looking for.

Owl has a red balloon. Monkey wants her big, shiny red balloon. Monkey offers to trade Owl every possession he can find until, in desperation, he’s left offering a sock. But when Owl points out that this sock has a star and a perfectly shaped hole, Monkey has a pretty tough decision to make. I HAVE A BALLOON, a story told by dialogue and illustrations, is 338 words and is meant for children ages 3-6. Readers of such picture books as Bob Shea’s UNICORN THINKS HE’S PRETTY GREAT will similarly enjoy the silly humor of I HAVE A BALLOON.

I am an associate member of SCBWI and attended my first conference in February in New York. I write a tongue-in-cheek blog entitled “How to Raise Benevolent Dictators” (http://a3bernstein.wordpress.com/) and have been published on the Scary Mommy parenting blog and the Atticus Review online literary journal. In addition to I HAVE A BALLOON, I have several other completed picture books, including a second one featuring the Owl and Monkey characters. I am currently working on a chapter book.

Below please find the text for I HAVE A BALLOON. Thank you very much for your consideration!

Ariel Bernstein

Well targeted, personalized, and to the point–we all know how hard that can be when putting together a query letter. Thank you Ariel for sharing with us! Now, I bet you all would love to win a critique or a slush pass. Here are the details:

Ariel is offering one picture book manuscript critique as well as one a critique on a query letter, picture book through young adult! These giveaways will be separate so you can enter one or both, depending on what you write.

  • Picture book must be fiction
  • No rhyming manuscripts
  • Under 1000 words
  • Query letter can be for picture book, middle grade, or young adult manuscripts
  • Query letter not to exceed one page

Agent Mary Cummings of Betsy Amster Literary is offering a get to the head of the line slush pass!

  • Mary is open to fiction and poetry for children and teens, from picture books to middle grade and young adult novels, including contemporary and historical, humor, mystery, fantasy, and multi-cultural
  • No children’s nonfiction, please

To enter please leave a comment on this post. Tell us if you want to be entered in Ariel’s picture book manuscript critique giveaway, her query letter critique giveaway, Mary’s slush pass giveaway, or all three!

For extra entries:

SubItClub Badge (175x88)Display our badge on your blog and link it back here to http://www.SubItClub.wordpress.com

Follow us on Twitter @SubItClub or on Facebook.

Take part in our private Sub It Club Submission Support Group and/or our Critique Partner Matchup.

Share this post via social media!

Please let us know about your extra entries in your comment.

Entries are open until WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 17TH at midnight PST. Winner will be announced on this post the next day. Good luck!

Ariel Bernstein is a picture book, chapter book and short story writer. She has been published in Scary Mommy and Atticus Review. Her debut picture book, I HAVE A BALLOON, will be published by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books in Fall 2017 and will be illustrated by Scott Magoon. Her chapter book, WARREN AND DRAGON’S 100 FRIENDS, will be published by Viking. Ariel is a member of SCBWI in New Jersey. You can learn more about her on her website: arielbernsteinbooks.com.

154 thoughts on “A Query Letter That Worked from Ariel Bernstein + a Slush Pile Pass & 2 Critique Giveaways!

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  1. Thank you for this opportunity. I would love to win the query critique or a pass on the slush pile. I have a MG Fiction Adventure book. I have followed on Twitter and forwarded to my FB page.

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  2. Thank you for the opportunity. I met Ariel at NJSCBWI and she was very kind to me. I would like to be entered into all three drawings!

    Like

  3. Wow, an agent, a picture book, and two chapter books all in one year – congrats! I’d love to be entered in the picture book critique giveaway. Thank you!

    Like

  4. What an inspiration post. I also write picture books and would like to be entered in all three giveaways. Thank you for this opportunity. 🙂

    Like

  5. It’s really useful to see a successful query letter. Thank you for sharing Ariel 🙂

    I would like to enter all three (I write picture books). I follow on Twitter and am also a member of the Facebook group. Thank you for such a great giveaway!

    Like

  6. Thank you for sharing, Ariel. I would like to be entered for the picture book critique.
    I follow on Twitter and am part of the Facebook group.

    Like

  7. Thank you for this great post. I would love to be entered for Ariel’s picture book and query letter critiques! I’m a twitter follower and FB group member, and will tweet this post in the next 5 mins. 🙂 Thanks again.

    Like

  8. Great query letter – thanks so much for sharing! Please enter me in all three giveaways. I follow on FB and Twitter and shared via social media!

    Like

  9. Thanks for sharing this query letter…I’ve been crafting mine for a long time and am still learning what the best strategies are. I would love to be entered in all 3 giveaways please! Have a great day…

    Like

  10. I would love to win the pb or query critique or a pass on the slush pile. Already follow on Twitter and belong to the FB page. And shared this fantastic opportunity on social media! Thanks Sub It Club.

    Like

  11. I would love to be entered in all 3! I shared on twitter. (I already follow on twitter and facebook and have the badge on my blog so I don’t know if those count:) ) Although I really should use this as the push to do the critique partner match up, which I’ve been considering for awhile but haven’t done…

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  12. I would love to win the query critique for my MG novel or the pass to the head of the slush pile. Love this website and the article by Ariel. So helpful

    Like

  13. Thank you for sharing, Ariel. Congratulations on all your good news! This is so uplifting!
    I would like to be entered into all three drawings!

    Like

  14. Congratulations Ariel! I love that you found such meaningful inspiration at the SCBWI Conference! Really looking forward to seeing your work in print! I would like to enter all three contests. All the best!

    Like

  15. Fantastic targeted query. Thank you for sharing your thought process.
    I’d like to be entered in Ariel’s query letter critique giveaway and Mary’s slush pass giveaway.
    I follow on Twitter and Facebook, and I’m a member of both Sub It Club Submission Support Group and Critique Partner Matchup.

    Like

  16. Thanks for such a great contest! I would like to enter for the Slush Pile Pass. For extra entries, I also 1. followed on twitter 2. Joined the Sub It Club FB group 3. Joined the Critique Partner Match-Up and 4. Shared this post on Social Media (twitter). Thanks!

    Like

  17. Thank you for posting your successful query. It’s so inspiring to see someone succeed through slush!
    I would love to enter for YA Query critique or the head of the slush pass
    I will repost link on Twitter to share your success story!
    Thank you!! And congratulations on your book deals!!

    Like

  18. I would like to be entered for all three giveaways. My extra entries: I follow you on Twitter & on Facebook. I am part of Sub It Club Submission Support Group and our Critique Partner Matchup.
    And I shared this post via Twitter..

    Like

  19. Thank you for this amazing post, Ariel’s query letter was very helpful. Also, please enter me into all 3 drawing. I’ve shared the post on my Facebook page.

    Like

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