5 Fabulous Authors who Pitched Home Runs
Updated: Aug 29, 2019
In this month’s post, I’m grateful to have five authors share their pitches for their new releases. If you’re in the query trenches, these examples may help you do the same. Plus, Author Lynne Marie has offered to critique one query letter. To win this special prize, follow the directions at the end of this post.
Author: Teresa Robeson
Title: Queen of Physics
Publisher: Sterling Children's Books
My Pitch: QUEEN OF PHYSICS, a 1,014-word lyrical picture book biography with back matter, focuses on the first half of the remarkable life of Madam Wu--as her students called her--whose given name, “Chien Shiung,” meant “courageous hero.” A hundred years ago in China, girls were not sent to school, not encouraged to be scientists, and not considered as smart as boys. But Wu Chien Shiung was different. She overcame sexism and racism in the United States to become one of the pre-eminent nuclear physicists of the twentieth century. Her work earned her the respect and admiration of famous scientists like Enrico Fermi and Robert Oppenheimer who considered her "the Chinese Marie Curie.” With its theme of empowerment of girls and the perseverance of immigrants, in addition to touching upon physics and history, this book would be useful in classrooms.
Main Character: Wu Chien Shiung
Obstacle: Being a woman in the field of science is never easy, but being an Asian woman during World War II in the U.S. was particularly hard. Wu fought racism during the early part of her career and sexism the whole life.
Reaction: Wu’s reaction to the obstacles is to follow her father’s advice which was to ignore them and just focus on doing what she wanted to do.
Stakes: Her reputation and career were at stake if she couldn’t achieve what she wanted. Underlying that was her determination to show that women were just as capable of doing difficult science as men were.
Author: Shannon Stocker
Title: CAN U SAVE THE DAY?
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Back Story: Sarah Rockett, my fabulous editor with Sleeping Bear Press, originally requested revisions of this story following a paid online critique. Because of this, I never submitted a formal “pitch” to her. That said, I did get a nibble from another editor following a prior slush-pile submission. I’ve included that pitch here.
My Pitch: CAN U SAVE THE DAY is a lyrical, 676-word picture book for children ages 4-8. Set on a farm, letter ‘B’ teases ‘A’ for being part of such a small group (the vowels). When ‘A’ becomes upset and runs away, chaos ensues as “instead of bark, the dog said BRK, and the duck couldn’t quack, she could only QUCK.” One by one the vowels depart, leaving the animals in a stuttering, stammering state of desperation, until only U is left…and she must save them all from impending doom.
Main Characters: Letters U and B
Obstacle: B (and the rest of the consonants) feel they are superior because of their larger group. The consonants and farm animals proceed to pick on the vowels.
Reaction: Because of the bullying, A, E, I, and O leave the farm, one by one. As they do, the vowels also leave the dialogue in the manuscript.
Stakes: As a sleeping tractor plows toward a crowd of unaware consonants, the letter B can only “hnk.” U must find a way to sound the warning and reunite the sparring alphabet.
Author: Lynne Marie
Title: Moldilocks and the Three Scares
Publisher: Sterling Children's Books
My Pitch: At this time, I am attaching Moldilocks and the Three Scares is a “zombified” retelling of the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story.
When a disheartened family consisting of Papa Scare (a Frankenstein Monster), Mama Scare (a Mummy) and Baby Scare (a wee Vampire) take a midnight stroll through the graveyard to let their Alpha-bat Soup cool, they are unaware that their “nightmares” will soon be answered by a lost and lonely Zombie named Moldilocks.
This unique version of the Goldilocks story features popular creatures of the night, will appeal to Zombie-lovers and their children, and presents a tie-in to Halloween. It is a story about a blended family who become a foster family, adding a new and “current” theme to the popular tale, as well as an added marketing angle.
Main Character: Moldilocks
Obstacle: (Not Traditional) Crosses the threshold of a house she has never been invited into, by following the warm scent of alphabat soup, something that smells like home.
Reaction: Makes herself at home.
Stakes: (Not Traditional) She basically has nothing to lose by following her heart.
Author: Vivian Kirkfield
Title: Four Otters Toboggan:
An Animal Counting Book
My Pitch: From dawn to dusk, the character of water changes as quickly as a child’s moods. In this lyrical counting book that introduces young kids to ten endangered species, river otters toboggan down a slide of mud, dragonflies dance like ballerinas on a liquid stage, and painted turtles stretch out their necks, sunbathers catching the last rays.
Main Character: This is a counting book without any single main character although the water is present in each spread, ever-changing, from calm to cascading to roiling until the final page when darkness falls and the water waits for the promise of tomorrow’s sunrise.
Obstacle: There is no apparent obstacle…this is what many editors call a ‘quiet’ book. But there is drama: the two dragonflies are obviously in danger of being eaten in the frenzy of feeding of the bonytail chub. The three kit foxes tense as they wait for mama’s signal that all is clear and they can join her at the water’s edge. The five burrowing owls must quickly duck into their borrowed burrows when the six falcons circle overhead, sneaking a peek at a meal. And the final drama comes when the storm clouds unleash their fury and the river swells as rain peppers the water.
Reaction: Each animal reacts to the environment – the burrowing owls hide from the falcons, the mud turtles soak up the sun, the pikeminnow take refuge in the submerged branches of a fallen tree.
Stakes: Nature takes no prisoners – if the burrowing owls aren’t fast enough, the falcons will eat them. If the pikeminnow don’t shelter in the submerged branches, larger fish or birds of prey might scoop them up for supper. And if we don’t cherish this planet and protect the habitats of these creatures, we will all suffer.
Author: Della Ross Ferreri Title: PRECIOUS BABY
Publisher: Beaming Books
My Pitch: A 188-word board book that celebrates a parent's joy of bringing home a new baby. New parents will appreciate the sweet message, and babies will enjoy cuddling up to see pictures of their ever-growing world.
Structure: A slice of life/concept board book that doesn’t follow the traditional story arc with obstacles, but uses a morning to bedtime structure as well as a peek into the baby’s ever-growing world.
Thank you to Teresa, Shannon, Lynne, Vivian, and Della for sharing your pitches!
And to all of you reading this post, I encourage you to check out or buy their books.
For a chance to win Lynne Marie's critique of one query letter, leave a comment on this post OR the Sub Six member page. Let us know if you are currently querying and where you shared this post. Deadline to enter is September 3rd.
For those not familiar with Sub Six, we are a children’s book writers and illustrators support group. Members support each other through encouraging comments, submission tally sheets and monthly prizes.