To write a story one thing. To pitch it is another thing. Previously, we looked at two main components of a query letter; Logline and comp titles. In this blog post, you will read the pitches authors used to sell the manuscripts which we see now as picture books.
I would love to take the chance and thank friends who kindly shared their pitches with me. I hope analyzing these pitches helps you in forging the best pitch you can. For me, pondering on these pitches was a fruitful learning process. The list is ordered alphabetically based on the book titles.
Clovis, a bull (and former Cloverdale Chargers linebacker), has inherited his granny’s little china shop. He now takes the most delicate care of his porcelain wares, repeating his granny’s motto, “Grace, grace. Nothing broken to replace.” …Until a herd of hecklers reawakens Clovis’ temper, and the urge to charge…
Katelyn didn’t give a comp title along with this pitch. She says that she only gives a title when it helps to explain the manuscript. This is a piece of advice from her that was very helpful to me, and I share it with you:
I run a critique & pitch service, and clients sometimes feel they have to force a comp, so they cite an outdated, virtually unknown book that doesn’t help showcase their work.
Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe
Here is a sample pitch for a picture book biography: Vivian pitched her manuscript through her agent to Little Bee Books.
It’s 1954. Jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald hopes to share her voice with the world. Movie star Marilyn Monroe dreams of becoming a great actress. Battling different types of discrimination, these icons work together to make their voices heard because even stars need a little help to shine.
Vivian didn’t give any comp title in her query letter.
Most people in India don’t have pets; animals are for working, not playing. So when Sami brings home Kamal, a rabble-rousing pet camel, his father makes plans to trek across the desert and sell Kamal at the fair. Sami has plans of his own, though – to win the camel race at the fair and bring Kamal back home.
(The character’s name changed from Sami to Raja post-acceptance).
For the comp title paragraph, Anita wrote:
Like A UNICORN NAMED SPARKLE, SPARKY!, and TWO PROBLEMS FOR SOPHIA, this 758-word picture story book focuses on unconditionally loving a less-than-perfect pet. However, this book showcases the Indian culture instead.
When a group of industrious, fun-loving rats find letters fallen from an Art Fair sign, they put the sign back together—with one small adjustment—and get to work creating a spectacular RAT FAIR. Their fair is ruined when humans sweep away everything the rats have created. Undaunted, the rats switch gears and start working on their very own rat art fair. As they are wrapping up their first day of the rat art fair, a human child who has been following their progress from the sidelines catches them red handed and the rats must decide if they can trust the child.
And here is the comp title paragraph:
RAT FAIR is SING (the movie) meets 10 MINUTES TILL BEDTIME. It is a nine-word picture book for ages 3-7 that will appeal to readers who enjoy stories about animals leading secret lives, as in THERE ARE NO BEARS IN THIS BAKERY, and who appreciate nearly wordless stories with the cheerful can-do spirit of DUDE! The manuscript is pasted below.
An interesting point is that she used a movie as a comp title.
Rice from Heaven: The Secret Mission to Feed North Koreans
When Yoori helps her father send rice balloons to North Korea, she finds the courage within to stand up to bullies and spread love to others. Rice from Heaven is an 800-word picture book manuscript based on a true story.
Tina didn’t give any comp title in her query letter.
In Little Chaski Run!, Chaski runs on the Qhapac Nan, the Inka Trail, to deliver a message for the Inka but—accidents happen and Little Chaski loses the message. Only then he discovers the good deeds of his journey will return in the most unexpected way.
Her agent, at the time of submitting, compared the manuscript with ¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market (2019 , by Raul the Third) and The Princess and the Warrior (2016, by Duncan Tonatiuh).
In the next blog post, you can read 6 more pitches of published picture books. If you are an author, willing to share your pitch in my blog, please, kindly drop me a message.
I write blog posts about the craft of writing picture books regularly. The list of the previous posts is on the PictureBookPedia. Also, I publish a quarterly newsletter that includes links to recent blog posts.