In a lot of ways, the pitch that I use to submit a book to editors is incredibly similar to the same query letter that an author would send to agents when they’re seeking representation. So today, I’m sharing my pitch letter today for Jennifer Robin Barr’s Goodbye, Mr. Spalding, in the hopes that it’ll help you as you craft your own query letters!
 
 

Dear (Editor),

 
I’m excited to query you about GOODBYE, MR. SPALDING, an historical fiction middle grade about the power of friendship and forgiveness, set against the backdrop of baseball’s Golden Era, the Great Depression, and the construction of the Spite Fence at Shibe Park.
 
It’s 1934 in Philadelphia and the hometown A’s are slumping as hard as the national economy. But Jimmy Frank won’t give up on his beloved A’s, even when the ballpark owners announce that they’re building up the wall in right field – which will block the residents of 20thStreet from selling tickets to their rooftop bleacher seats.
 
Working from their own personal book of rules, Jimmy and his best friend Lola try scheme after scheme to stop the “Spite Fence” from being built. But when everything from burying a fish in right field for good luck to forging a note to stop the A’s lawyer from attending a vital court date fail, Jimmy starts to look to the infamous Polinski boys for help. A quartet of ne’er-do-wells who’ve bullied both Jimmy and Lola in the past, Lola wants nothing to do with them or their latest plans.
 
As Jimmy’s ideas stray further from Jimmy and Lola’s book of rules and veer into the illegal, he stands to lose not only his favorite pastime — but also his lifelong best friend.
 
Jennifer Robin Barr is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Bridal and Baby Showers, and The Everything Scrapbooking Book. This is her debut middle grade novel.
 
May I send you the manuscript?
 
Best,
Tracy

I wanted to hit on all the things that I loved about the book — the history, baseball, and Jimmy and Lola’s friendship. But if we broke down my pitch, it still follows the traditional query letter format:

I’m excited to query you about GOODBYE, MR. SPALDING, an historical fiction middle grade about the power of friendship and forgiveness, set against the backdrop of baseball’s Golden Era, the Great Depression, and the construction of the Spite Fence at Shibe Park.

This is my hook or log line – that one sentence elevator pitch about your book. I wanted to call attention to the time period, theme and, of course, baseball. Then I go into a two paragraph synopsis, with more detail about the plot of the novel:

It’s 1934 in Philadelphia and the hometown A’s are slumping as hard as the national economy. But Jimmy Frank won’t give up on his beloved A’s, even when the ballpark owners announce that they’re building up the wall in right field – which will block the residents of 20thStreet from selling tickets to their rooftop bleacher seats.
 
Working from their own personal book of rules, Jimmy and his best friend Lola try scheme after scheme to stop the “Spite Fence” from being built. But when everything from burying a fish in right field for good luck to forging a note to stop the A’s lawyer from attending a vital court date fail, Jimmy starts to look to the infamous Polinski boys for help. A quartet of ne’er-do-wells who’ve bullied both Jimmy and Lola in the past, Lola wants nothing to do with them or their latest plans.

And then I end the plot synopsis with what’s really at stake for Jimmy:

As Jimmy’s ideas stray further from Jimmy and Lola’s book of rules and veer into the illegal, he stands to lose not only his favorite pastime — but also his lifelong best friend.

Finally, I end with a brief bio, and the request to send the manuscript.

Jennifer Robin Barr is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Bridal and Baby Showers, and The Everything Scrapbooking Book. This is her debut middle grade novel.

In Jennifer’s bio, I wanted to highlight that she’d been published, but that she’s also making a shift into middle grade literature. In a query letter, you might include professional organizations and relevant writing awards in your bio. (And if you don’t have any writing credits, you can just say, “This is my debut.”) Unlike query letters though, I don’t include memberships to professional organizations unless it’s a non-fiction piece where I need to prove that the author has the right background and/or platform for the project.
 
I hope that helps you as you put together your own query letters – and I also hope you’ll check out Jennifer Robin Barr‘s fabulous middle grade debut, Goodbye, Mr. Spalding!

Chicken Wants a Nap by Tracy Marchini

"A surprising gem." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Chicken Wants a Nap is available at Amazon, Barnes & NobleTarget and your favorite independent bookstore!

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