Mar 30, 2011

Query- Lucky Lucy, Better than a Four Leaf Clover

Dear Agent,

Lucy has the kind of luck any child, or adult for that matter, would dream of- everything she wishes just happens to happen before it is said. But after an embarrassing classroom accident and a costly doll wish, it becomes very clear that her luck isn’t lucky for everyone near. When one of her wishes costs her best friend and dog the last piece of his favorite cake, he makes it his mission to put a stop to her wishing. Despite his hard work, Lucy is convinced that the only way to have fun is through self-wishes and it is not until she has a life changing experience that she begins to see the true value of her luck: her ability to wish a world of great things for the people she loves.

Lucky Lucy, Better than a Four Leaf Clover is a 1600 word rhyming picture book that tells Lucy’s story from the perspective of her dog and best friend. Beginning with her fortuitous birth in the back of a taxicab and ending with her self-realization at a child’s birthday party, the story is a fast-passed tale of friendship and transformation that is written for both children and parents.

As indicated in your submission instructions I have included the full manuscript.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration,


gj said...

I thought this was middle-grade (or older) until I got to the very end.

I'm not suggesting you write the query as simply as the book itself, but it might help to be a LITTLE closer in sentence structure, etc., to the actual story.

Try to simplify the whole thing, removing the adult-sounding judgments/lessons and focusing on Lucy's conflict. Or, alternatively, the dog's conflict, because Lucy doesn't seem to have any conflict. She's perfectly happy making her wishes come true; it's the dog/narrator who has problems with it.

Anonymous Author said...

gj is right. The complexity of the story makes it more appropriate for a middle grade novel or a chapter book than a picture book. 1600 words is long for a picture book, and that combined with the format (most editors don't want to see rhymes) and the heavy emphasis on the moral is unlikely to net you requests.

"fast-passed"= fast paced?

The title is problematic too: long, and slightly inaccurate, since Lucy doesn't bring luck to others, as a four-leaf clover does; she gets her wishes granted, which is something different.

I suggest you read Harold Underdown's blog
and that of Editorial Anonymous

yankinfrance said...

The feel of a children's book came through for me at the beginning of the query -- it was only toward the middle that I started to wonder if this was not, in fact, a query for something else ("self-wishes", whatever that means, "life-changing experience," etc.). And then I discovered the story is only 1600 words and I was stumped.

I do feel, however, that there is material for a good query in here.

First, the paragraphs are much too long. Even for an adult novel. The more white space the better.

Second, as has been suggested, watch your language -- you're intellectualizing the story, not SHOWING what it is about.

Third, it seems that the dog is the real actor here - "he makes it his mission" -- is the story told through his eyes or Lucy's? If this is the dog's story focus the query on him. Otherwise, this is confusing. (And if this is a multiple POV story, make that clear. I suppose this can work though, my kids really liked Anthony Browne's Voices in the Park).

I'm assuming "her best friend and dog" are one and the same character, but this too is confusing.

Lastly, the fact that this is a rhyming word story (it is NOT yet a book) suggests a certain playfulness of language -- try to bring this out in the query.

AND in the title. Why doesn't the title rhyme too? It really should. You're missing a great opportunity there.

Anonymous Author said...

I just reread your query. The first time through I'd missed that you were including the entire manuscript, although of course that's often the protocol for picture books.

Since you're doing that, your query should be minimal. No need to point out to them the moral of the story, nor whose point of view it's in, nor that it's in rhyme. Be brief, try to say something that makes the story sound amusing, and make sure your rhymes scan.

melanie said...

Thank you all for your great feedback. "Anonymous," with your second comment, do you mean that I should write more of a cover letter rather than a query letter? That would certainly be much much easier, since I'm finding it very difficult to convey both the playfullness and simplicity of the story in this letter.

melanie said...

YankinFrance, great idea with the rhyming title. I'm going to have to think long and hard about a title that doesn't seem like meaningless rhyme. About the only word that ryhmes with Lucy is goosey so I've had to construct the entire story in such a way that a couplet never ends in Lucy! This will be a good challenge.

yankinfrance said...

I'm rewriting my current novel right now -- I had thought it finished, but as I worked on the query, I discovered how much farther I could take it. It's turning into a much different novel now. I even changed the title. ;-)

Food for thought.

Anyway, I believe there is a separate set of rules for pitching children's books, I'm not so sure a query is even necessary.

Anonymous Author said...

GJ, yes, more of a cover letter. The thinking is that they'll read the manuscript anyway. (Or at least they'll read the beginning of it.)

But you really, really should check out the sites that I suggested for more info.