So I am at last turning to queries. (Sorry to those who have been waiting; I haven’t been idle, honest!) And, perhaps because I am reading tons of queries, my thoughts turned back to when I started in children’s books, as an assistant at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
The slush at Harcourt was read by a sweet, gracious writer named Joan Bowden, who came in once a week, plowed through the hundreds of submissions, and returned them to the authors, 99% of the time with a form reject. When she found a particularly funny sentence in a query, she’d cut it out and tape it to a scroll at the entrance to her cubicle. I photocopied that scroll but have somehow lost the other pages in my many moves; I have only one sheet. I offer them here as … I don’t know, a cautionary tale? A bit of sweet comedy? Part of the historical record? These are all at least fifteen years old, and I can’t imagine anyone will recognize their own work, but if that does happen, you have my sincere apologies. And my assurance that you have, inadvertently, given me much joy over the past decade and a half.
These are all genuine. I have created the order, but all errors and formatting are the authors’ own.
- Dear Editor, How many mushy, melodramatic, multicultural children’s books can you muddle through in one morning?
- Are you currently excepting submissions for review?
- Please send me your latest information on marbles.
- I HAVE PASSED MUCH WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE SINCE WE WERE LAST IN TOUCH. I’M SURE THE SAME THING HAS HAPPENED TO YOU, BUT ANYWAY,
- I hope you enjoy my story and my new baby enclosed.
- I have written an educational instructional program for children who have diabetes in a storybook form.
- The following is the first forty or so pages from a mystery/romance/thriller (color me non-committal)
- Wow! Finally an amazingly wonderful truly terrific story! And, it’s not like hasn’t taken me two decades, bagged-eye mornings, and the anguish of the dead and beaten to get here…it has, it has! But it’s here at last! The gods have been good. And you lucky editors get to read it!
- Care to sniff the cork to see if the wine of my labors would appeal to your markets’ palates? Attached, a few pages.
- [Title Redacted] is a non-spooky, funny Halloween fantasy, in which Dracula, Frankenstein, et al, are all good guys. So vut you tink?
- I am a vegetation which is why I like writing about animals who are vegetations too.
- Thank you for reading this through completely, at least in part.
- I was born in Portsmith Virginia in a navel hospital.
- Because this is not a simultaneous submission, I will respectively wait your six to eight week reply period for a response.
- IN CLOSING I MUST ADD THAT I HAVE NO MONEY SO IF YOU DON’T PUBLISH THIS IT’S POSSIBLE I’LL HAVE TO LIVE AN IMMORTAL LIFE SO PLEASE LET ME KNOW.
- Respectively yours,
And, because this just made me laugh this morning: The Harper Collins UK Children’s Books team has created a new world record. Yes!
Have a happy Labor Day, everyone!