Monday, April 15, 2024

query letters, writing picture books, revealing the inspiration for a book
                                                                                                                                                                Photo: Freepik


It's a good idea to include the inspiration for your book in a query letter.  

Briefly, a query letter is usually composed of three paragraphs that introduce the title and the hook, give a description of the story, and present the writer's biography.  Whether you begin the query with the inspiration for your book or place it later in the letter, mentioning why you created this story has the potential to show agents that you are the person qualified to tell the story.  

Let's focus on how to reveal the inspiration for a book.  I'm willing to bet most would take the easy approach and write:  This is book was inspired by... blah, blah, blah (pick one: my pet, an occasion, a vacation, a person, another book, a movie, etc.).  

Doable, but predictable.  And boring.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, to quote Jerry Seinfeld.   

But here's the thing.  When you query an agent, you have to stand out.  There are tons of people vying for an agent's attention so, why would you write the basic "I was inspired by" when you can be more creative?  Find a way to bump it up a notch.  You've got to go the extra mile and strive to be more imaginative. 

Okay, now back to your query letter.  Your goal is to state the reason for writing your book in an engaging way.  Let's see if you can avoid using the word "inspired."  

Here are some ideas.  Reveal the reason (a vacation, a person, a pet, an event, a tradition, or a book, etc.) that...

  • helped to plant a seed for (title) 
  • sparked the idea for (title)
  • launched the idea for (title)
  • moved me to create (title)

Let's try using a couple of the suggestions as examples:  

I depend on a service dog for mobility assistance and he sparked the idea for CHARLIE IN CHARGE.

My visit to Dubrovnik, where cats are treated like royalty, launched the idea for THE MAGIC CAT. 

Now expound on the reason you wrote the book.  Give compelling details why you wrote this book.  I repeat: compelling!  Speak to the heart of the agent.  Something that might make her laugh or tear-up. Lastly, add the takeaway.  Reveal the message you want to convey to readers.  What do you want them to get out of reading your book?  

To be honest, you have very little time to pique the interest of an agent.  The way you present the inspiration for your book could make a huge impact on impressing an agent.  It could actually seal the deal.  

So, don't get lazy or take the easy way out.  Be original.  Be imaginative.  Be unique.  Give the agent the captivating reason as to why you wrote your book.  This is your chance to show why you are the one and only person who can tell the story.      


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