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