I’m dancing with excitement today! One of our very own Sub It Club members, Valerie Bolling, has just had her debut picture book released. Let’s Dance is a rhythmic good read that was released by Boys Mills Press! Plus, Valerie was recently chosen to receive the 2020 We Need Diverse Books mentorship with Kelly Starling Lyons!
Today Valerie is going to share a bit about her journey to publication, and then you’ll get to read the letter she sent with her submission. So, let’s dance on down and read about Valerie’s journey. Here she is:
I wrote the first draft of Let’s Dance! in June 2017 and continued to revise the book throughout the year.
An earlier draft was entitled I Love to Dance, as this line was repeated between stanzas. Marianne McShane, a friend who is a writer, storyteller, and retired librarian, suggested I read Summer Wonders by Bob Raczka as a mentor text and that I start the story with a line that appeared later in the text: “Tappity-tap/Fingers snap.” Her recommendations helped significantly in revising the book.
I sent my first query on Jan. 1, 2018 and sent two more queries on Feb. 25, 2018. An agent was interested in the story! She requested I send her two more manuscripts, but when I did, she wasn’t as interested in those stories, saying, “I foresee a harder sell for the other projects.” Thus, she decided to pass. I continued to submit queries and also participated in two Twitter pitches in June. I received a “like” in #PitMad that was turned down when I sent the manuscript, and I received another “like” later in the month during #PBPitch. When I sent the manuscript to Jes Negrón at Boyds Mills & Kane on June 18, 2018, she emailed me two weeks later on July 2, requesting to have a conversation. During that phone call, I learned that Jes was interested in acquiring the story!
A girl dances the cha-cha-cha; a boy zig-zag-zigs in his wheelchair. Dancing is a universal language, even though we all have different “accents.” This is a story that leaves no doubt that dancing is for everyone! #PBPitch #POC #OWN #DIS
And now to Valerie’s cover letter:
Dear Ms. Negrón,
Thank you for “liking” my Twitter pitch today for my picture book, Let’s Dance! I appreciate the opportunity to share this story with you.
I was inspired to write this book because most young children love to “move” when they hear music. Dancing is a way for all of us to enjoy ourselves and expend positive energy. Dancing also allows us to connect with people who may be different from us.
As an African-American educator and writer whose educational career spans 25 years across elementary and secondary schools, the issue of diversity is extremely personal to me. When I taught in the elementary classroom, it was difficult to find diverse literature for my students, which inspired me to write. My primary goal is that children of all backgrounds will see themselves in my stories. It is my small attempt to promote a world where diverse children feel valued and heard.
In addition to writing picture books, I write a Monthly Memo for teachers that I publish on Twitter, and I have been published in The National Writing Project’s Quarterly. I am also a member of SCBWI.
Thank you for your time and consideration, Ms. Negrón. Revision suggestions are welcome if Let’s Dance! interests you. I look forward to hearing from you.
Valerie D. Bolling
Doesn’t the cover look like fun?! Let’s Dance! written by Valerie Bolling and illustrated by Maine Diaz is published by Boyds Mills Press.
A huge THANK YOU to Valerie for sharing with us. You can find Valerie online at:
Thoughts? Questions? Comments? We want to hear them!