Saturday, August 30, 2008

Posting: Possible. Constructive Feedback: You Decide.

I have a cover letter I was hoping you’d post on your site with some of your witty (and constructive) feedback. Please let me know if this is possible.

Dear ______,
“If you’re not careful your face will stick that way!” How many children have heard this phrase? Although it is a phrase that gets uttered by countless parents, Riley didn’t listen to his mom until it was too late.
It doesn't matter to Riley (or any child) that countless parents have said anything. The last sentence should focus on what Riley's mom has said. I also feel it doesn't matter that this is an oft-repeated phrase, since everybody knows it isn't true. You should be focusing on the surprise (and humor) factor of it unexpectedly being true for this boy.
After Riley defiantly twisted his lips, squinched up his nose and narrowed his eyes he felt a strange and tingling feeling starting across the top of his forehead, right where his forehead met his messy blonde hair.
The word 'defiantly' is making me wonder whether you're going someplace funny with this... or someplace preachy. Lots of parents want funny books for their children. Very few are looking for a book that will Teach Them Not to Make Faces.
The tingling moved down toward his eyebrows. Then it crept to the tip of his nose, wiggled across his lips like a worm on a wet sidewalk
and floated down to his chin. His entire face was like one big tingly, sleeping foot.
I'm getting 'off-putting' more than I'm getting 'humorous' at this point. Needs a bit of rewriting.
In My Face is Stuck This Way, Riley tries everything from stuffing his face with marshmallows to inflating his face with a bicycle pump to fix his problem. In the end, it is an unexpected event that transforms his face back to normal.
The humor isn't coming across in this letter. The topic itself isn't enough to sell this book. What's the element that people will love about this story? I'm also wondering why a cover letter would need this much detail. A query letter would, but a cover letter can be simpler.
I feel that _____________ is a great fit for Riley’s story. The intriguing story line and creative problem solving ideas will appeal to a wide array of readers, and will add a strong piece of fiction to your picture book line.
I have been previously published as a journalist and have spent many years studying writing for children. I am also an active member of the SCBWI.
This is a simultaneous submission. Thank you, in advance, for considering My Face is Stuck This Way. I have included a business SASE for your reply, however return of my submission materials in not necessary.
I look forward to hearing from you.


Anonymous said...

My overall impression is it's just too wordy. And I wouldn't make claims for my "intriguing story line" and "creative problem solving." Let editors be the judge of that. "Riley didn't listen to his mom until it was too late" makes the whole thing sound pretty didactic, in addition to other hints EA pointed out. Your premise -- a boy whose face really DOES stick "that way" -- could be funny, I think. But try not to wink at adults so much.

Anonymous said...

Also, personally, I can't stand rhetorical questions. That's an automatic point against an author in my book when I see that on a cover letter.

I'm with EA on the "ew" factor, too.

Anonymous said...

The pitch made me think of "The Magic Mustache" which is a very clever and witty book about making faces, though the story is very different. The subject matter has been handled before, so you will definately want to add a lot of zip to punch up your letter and make it stand out. It's just one of the story lines that make people say, "Oh, I know where this is going." That means you have to bring somethin sensational to the table.

Not that I'm not sinking in the slush right now, myself.