Thursday, July 29, 2010


Today's guest blogger is Rose Cooper. You all know the rules by now right? Before reading on you must visit her blog and become a follower.

Back? Excellent. So, Rose is (obviously) the author of GOSSIP FROM THE GIRLS ROOM, A BLOGTASTIC! NOVEL. Her novel will be released on January 11, 2011 by Delacorte/Random House. You can Pre-Order it online now at: Amazon or Borders or Barnes & Noble.

I won't go on any longer but just make sure you check Rose out. She has some very cool and quirky artwork, and her blog is a damn fun read! Also, a quick shout out to Vicki Rocho, who introduced me to Rose and talked her into coming on to The QQQE to share her query with us. Yay MissV.

I know it's been a couple of weeks but you guys do remember how this works right? Rose's query will be in black. She has elected a lovely light blue to indicate her own analysis and I think I'll go with ... a sort of magenta for my thoughts, because the pink on Rose's blog IS awesome, but it would be too hard to read.

Take it away Rose:

Thank you so much for the chance to share, Matthew! I chose Rosemary Stimola, who was always at the top of my list. I had queried her in the past but still held out hope. When I came up with the idea for this new book, it happened so quickly (I wrote it in two weeks) and I immediately thought of her and queried her at once.

Dear Rosemary Stimola,

I am seeking representation for my middle grade novel, BATHROOM BLOG.

Very simple and upfront. She knows exactly what I’m querying her about. *Note-this was the title before my editor, and then marketing, made final changes to what is now the current title.

What is said in the Girls Room stays in the Girls Room. Until now. The unspoken law about bathroom gossip has been broken, by none other than 6th grader Sofia Becker. She can’t help but overhear (very carefully) the best kept secret in all of Middlebrook Middle School. And it’s so interesting that she can’t help but blog about it. The gossip gets better as Sofia begins staking out the girls room by spending embarrassing amounts of time in the stall.

I wanted to try to hook the agent with this paragraph, summing it all up without giving boring details, and even gaining some character insight right off the bat. You can already tell what some of the conflict will deal with. And because this is a humorous book, I didn’t want the query to be taken “too seriously.”

Are you surprised that I like Sofia right away? I'm not. Details are vague here, sure, but that's just fine in a query, in fact it's often better. The key here is that I'm sympathizing with her right away, I'm curious what she's discovering, and I'm enjoying how she's going about it. A 6th grader who blogs? How could that not be awesome.

Sofia first uses her pre-blogging notebook to jot down all the juiciness so she won’t forget any single important detail. Even if some of it gets mixed up or embellished a little before it hits the computer screen. After all, that just makes it more interesting, right? I’m incorporating some of the characters voice here, but not going overboard. I didn’t want the info to sound robotic or dull. I wanted it to be personable and try to show some of my character in here too. What Sophia doesn’t anticipate is what to do when she hears gossip about herself. Or her best friend. Or if her notebook falls into the wrong hands. And here’s the main conflict. I never give away how the resolution in a query. That’s left for the synopsis. It should be just enough to leave the agent wanting more, but at the same time knowing you have a strong character, great hook and concept.

Flawed character (willing to exaggerate is plenty of flaw for a middle schooler)? Check. Entertaining voice? Check. Conflict? Check. Tough decisions to be made re: said conflict. Um, yeah ... check.

In BATHROOM BLOG, Sophia’s pre-blogging notebook features all the gossipy details along with humorous sketches and drawings from her point of view. She includes notes to herself, since her brain goes numb when it comes to the super important things, her helpful lists and ranks of classmates, and not to mention the mixed up info she actually puts on her blog. Sofia may take things a bit far, but that doesn’t mean she’ll always learn her lesson. Hmmm, I wonder what’s being said in the Boys Room…

See how I slyly added in the possibility for a sequel without pitching to her that I wanted this to become a series (which was my main intention)? And guess what? My second book in the series will be out 2012—RUMORS FROM THE BOYS ROOM! Normally, I wouldn’t have added this last paragraph to a query, I like it short and simple, but in this case I felt like I need to because I did something I’ve never done before—I drew those sketches and illustrations and included them with the manuscript. I had no idea of knowing how she or any other agent would react to this, so I wanted to add additional info to set this idea up.

Okay, of course that's great news, congrats Rose! But what I like is how smoothly she delivered it in the original query. This kind of tact requires great skill and though it might seem at first as if it was something that might be missed remember that agents are very smart people, but they don't like to be TOLD things outright.

Also I'm sure we've all read not to ever include illustrations with your query. They say the writing must stand on its own, the publisher will choose their own illustrator if they elect to and so on ... but the bottom line is that rules, especially rules about writing, are MEANT to be broken, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE that Rose has given us an awesome example of that here.

I am a freelance writer and artist with children’s stories that have appeared in Dragonfly Spirit, Whittle Tykes, and Wee Ones. I am published online and in print papers and magazines including Foolish Times, OnTopic Magazine, Cynic Mag, and Sacramento Book Review. I’m an online humor columnist with The NetWits and a previous editor of BellaOnline.

I didn’t have any published books under my belt, and I’m not sure if this even worked, but I thought it might help to show I had some “humor” credentials since I was pitching for a humor kid’s book, even though some of my published articles were non-kid related.

Not being an agent myself it's hard to know exactly how much difference this stuff makes. My best guess is that in this situation it certainly didn't hurt!

BATHROOM BLOG is geared toward the audience of Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and Dear Dumb Diary series. The sketches are similar to those books in the way that they are very simple, neat and clean. And it portrays the fantastic artistic talent of Sofia Becker.

This last paragraph was very important for me. I felt I needed to make the comparison to give her the idea of what she would be looking at, if she requested more. I didn’t want her to expect great works of art, because it was, as the last sentence sums up, the sketches of the main character. And when you see the sketches, you know she’s anything but a fantastic talented artist. So right there, you would know the character is very sarcastic as well.

Love that little bit of snark!

May I send you sample chapters and/or accompanying artwork possibilities for consideration?

Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.


Rose Cooper

I got the first response back from Rosemary in about an hour. She requested the first 15 pages, read it, then later that day asked if she could share it with editors at the Bologna Book Fair. It was hard to wrap my head around. I didn’t even have the rest of the illustrations scanned in, since I wasn’t sure if she would want to see more. She told me when she got back into town (2 looong weeks later) to send her the full ms will all images. I did and she signed me the next day. BUT, if I had been better prepared, I could’ve had an agent with days of my query! So my tip—have confidence in your work and always be prepared no matter what!

Well that probably sounds lighting fast to all of us but of course if you're the one waiting ...

So what do you guys think? I find it really fun and interesting to see the process for a MG novel in which the author IS the illustrator, especially since Rose is just so darn cool.

Do you all have any questions for her? Thoughts or comments?

In the meantime don't forget to visit Rose's blog and become a follower, since if you read this post without doing so first you're fired anyway. Also, she's holding a contest. Well we're sort of holding it together, but as lazy as I am I'm having her do all the work. Yayz!

All you have to do is leave a comment mentioning that you are interested, on my blog or on Rose's (leaving one on both WILL grant you a double entry). She'll have more details on her blog, but since you've already visited you know that. The prize? Oh yeah, contests have prizes. The winner(s) will receive a query critique from Rose!

I'll see if I can talk her into letting me post the critique and add some of my own analysis (or just jokes) once it's done! Huzzah!


Jessica Bell said...

Oh my gosh! That is what you call a success story! Congrats Rose! Thanks again Matt for the chance to read another successful query! I just started following Rose a couple of days ago. What a coincedence! xx

Ted Cross said...

I'm too old to remember middle school (there wasn't even the term 'middle school' back then!), but all the right elements are there for a great query letter.

JE said...

That's a qonderful query! And a really cute MG book!

Congrats, Rose!


Vicki Rocho said...

I love this query! I wish the book were coming out sooner so I could give it to my daughter for Christmas!

Unknown said...

Okay Rose I already knew you rocked but I LOVED YOUR QUERY!!! Of course I knew the synopsis already but that didn't change it from loving how well done this query was! I loved where you added that this book is "geared" towards... it gave them the option to compare!

You rocked it girl! I'm excited about your book!!!

Oh and Matt anyone who uses light blue and magenta is awesome in my book!! :)

Will Burke said...

I've seen a really obvious copy of the "...Wimpy Kid" idea, but this seems to aproach the audience of the trend from a different angle, like Twilight did to Harry Potter's audience. Well Done!

Joanne Brothwell said...

I love that query! I can't wait for it to come out - I have a nine year old reader who'll love it!

Candyland said...

LOVELOVELOVE ROSE! This is a genius concept too!

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Rose, this is a great story. So inspirational. Congrats. I've visited your blog and I love it. So cool.

vic caswell said...

such a cute story! and watta query!
very cool to see one that worked!

Emily White said...

That book sounds great! And what a success story! Thanks for sharing this, Rose.

Stephanie Lorée said...

This is a prime example of how a great concept sells a novel. I mean, really, Bathroom Blogging? That's BRILLIANT! I thought the query was professional and well organized, but the concept is definitely what hooked here. So unique!

Kimber said...

I heart Rose to pieces! This is a wonderful query letter! Congrats, Rose!

Lydia Kang said...

Ooh, this was a great one! Thanks! I like the idea of secretive blogging. So daring!
And I love your blog reviews. Someday maybe I'll have one for you...someday!

Jess said...

Ahhh, bathroom gossip--perhaps one of the most underutilized devices in modern literature. Can't wait to read this one! Thanks for sharing your query :)

Kristi said...

How did I live without your blog??? Seriously love it and love this interview. Can't wait to read Rose's book and I love the analysis of her helpful!

Renae said...

Great interview and what an awesome query letter! Rose has such inspiring story. Thanks for sharing!

MBW aka Olleymae said...

Congrats, Rose! I love your query and story premise. I also love how confidently you presented your work and artwork. What a dream come true--and a great reminder to be confident and prepared!!

Matt, thanks again! These posts are so encouraging.

Tahereh said...

wow what an incredible story! the book sounds awesome!!

Jenny Rose said...

What a great post! I love the fact that both of you broke it down and gave your thoughts. Definitely inspired me to write my children's book/novel.

I would love to have a query critiqued, but is this only for fiction? Are proposals for non-fiction? My non-fiction piece (a devotional) is much closer to that step than my fiction. Though I'm not sure where a bedtime story would fit in. (I will ask this on both blogs in case anybody at either site happens to be wondering the same things)
Jenny Rose Creatively Loving Kids

Matthew MacNish said...

No one needs a query crit from Rose besides Jen? Don't forget to mention in your comment if you want to win one.

Theresa Milstein said...

Fantastic query. The appealing premise is written in such a perfect way. Rose, do you want to write mine?

And writing a manuscript and sending it out right away? I'm speechless, which is bad for a writer.

Lindsay said...

What a fantastic query and story. I can't wait to read it when it comes out. :)

Jaydee Morgan said...

Great query and I'm glad to hear you did so good by it :) Thanks for sharing.

Bradmouth said...

Great query. (And I've written a bunch, unfortunately).

Put me down for the query crit contest.


Janet Johnson said...

Wow! What a fantastically sneaky, successful query. I love it! I could definitely take lessons from her. Sign me up for the crit. :)

Faith E. Hough said...

Hi, Rose! I love your query (I think I might have mentioned that when you put it on your own blog a while back...) and while I'm insanely jealous of you genius types who can apparently do everything, I will forgive you because you are funny. :)
But, on behalf of another genius type (who I happened to be married to), I have a question: once Rosemary requested the partial, how did you format it? Did you include illustrations on the page, or did you have to send them separately?
Thanks for sharing and best of luck with everything!

Steena Holmes said...

My mind is whirling over how fast the response time was! I'm jealous and now have a goal ... to make sure my query gets the same response ;)

Slamdunk said...

Wonderful concept for a story Rose. I am finding these query letter exchanges quite the educational experience.

Thanks for sharing.

Lenny Lee said...

hi mr matthew! im already a follower of miss rose and shes soooo cool. her blog is neat. i like her letter cause its real easy to read and she says just enough stuff so i want to read her book. im gonna make up a pretend quary for my shark book just for practice. oh guess what! miss candace on candyland did a interview with me and its gonna be on her blog on i think monday. now everyone could know more about me. i hope you see it and like it. i hope lots of people see it. it was really nice that she wanted to do that. im soooo excited.
...hugs from lenny

Matthew MacNish said...

Lenny, you're the best! I can't wait to read Candace's interview with you! Lemme know if you want me to feature your query on here, I'd be happy too.


Beautiful query!

Talli Roland said...

Wow! That is definitely a success story - and so good to read! Thanks, Matthew and Rose. I really enjoyed reading this.

Angela McCallister said...

Thank you for sharing this, Rose and Matthew! I'm not surprised Rose got picked up so quickly. It sounds like a great book. I know my kids would love it!

And oh boy do I need help with my query, so please put me in for the crit.

BTW Matthew, I gave you an award here. Love your blog <3

Meradeth Houston said...

Awesome query! And Rose's art is so much fun :) Please enter me in the contest, too!

Larissa said...

The dual comments/analysis was fun! Thanks for sharing!

I'd love to win the query crit. :)

Rose Cooper said...

Thanks everyone for the nice comments and sorry i'm late getting to a few of your questions.

Messy Mommy-Yes, the query is only for fiction. Book Proposals are for non-ficition. But no worries, I'll be doing more query crits in the future so you may be ready then :)

Faith-I originally had everything typed with all the images in place in Word Doc, but converted everything to PDF when I emailed it to Rosemary. So basically, I had put it together just as I imaged how it would look as an actual book. It seemed to work!