10 Things NOT to Say in your Query – Advice from a Children’s Publisher

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Rob Broder is Publisher of Ripple Grove Press, an independent, family-run children’s book publishing company. He and his wife Amanda started Ripple Grove Press because they have a passion for well-told and beautifully illustrated stories for children. Their mission is to bring together great writers and talented illustrators to make the most wonderful books possible. Their hope is that their books find their way to the cozy spot in your home.

Rob is currently looking for that next story. Follow his advice below and then perhaps you’ll give Ripple Grove Press a chance to read your manuscript or see your art.

Rob told Writers’ Rumpus that Ripple Grove Press receives submissions every day. They read every story that comes into their inbox, so they have a lot of query letters to go through. Some query letters show that their writers did their homework. Others…. not so much. Here is Rob Broder’s advice on the ten things not to say in your query if you want to stand out as a writer who knows what they’re doing.

Ten Things Not to Say in Your Query Letter

by Rob Broder – Publisher of Ripple Grove Press

  1. Don’t Start Your Query with, “Hello, My Name Is So-and-So.”

I’ll know your name at the end of the letter. And you’re wasting valuable time and space in your letter by introducing who you are. If I like your story, I’ll be sure to find your name.

  1. Don’t Tell Me I Will Love Your Story.

Or that this story is for me. Let me read your story and see if I’ll enjoy it. Telling me I’ll like it before reading it, Is like telling me I’d like a specific ice cream flavor before tasting it. Let me be the judge.

  1. Don’t Tell Me Your Child Loves This Story.

Of course your child loves your story. They’re your child. They love everything you do or say. It doesn’t mean it reads well when written down or that it should be published.


  1. Don’t Tell Me Your Story Is Whimsical.

This tells me your story will rhyme or have some type of toe-tapping tempo. And chances are, and please no offense, the beat will be off.

  1. Do Not Send Pictures of Your Child or Pet Or Who Inspired the Story.

Please read picture books. I don’t see many published books that have photographs of your real dog dressed up as an accountant or firefighter. It does not add to the value of the submission and often distracts from the story. It makes it too personal and you want the story to be able to connect with everyone.


  1. Do Not Tell Me This Story Is Similar to Dr. Seuss Meets Alice In Wonderland.

That immediately tells me your story is not original. Dr. Seuss is Dr. Seuss; you should be you. I am looking for something original. Or maybe your story was inspired by There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. Changing the old lady to a Gargoyle isn’t making your thoughtful submission unique. Or if your title is If You Give An Ostrich a Scone, then it certainly is not in your unique voice. Books like these books get published, but not by us. So please do your research.

  1. Don’t Tell Me You Have a Series For This Character.

Being a small press, we make one book at a time. Sparky Goes to the Zoo might be the next awesome book, but when you also send me Sparky Goes to the Hamptons and Sparky Goes Kayaking, the first Sparky loses the sense of something fun and unique. If the book hits a home run in sales, that’s the time to talk about a second Sparky book.

  1. Don’t Tell Me You Have the Best ABC or Counting Book.

Its not that your ABC or counting book isn’t really funny and different. It’s just that Ripple Grove Press is looking for a story. A simple, well-written, fun, uniquely-told story. Submit your amazing ABC book to another publisher.

  1. Don’t Send Your Query or Submission with Page Breaks and Illustration Notes.

This is very distracting. Let the Creative Director and the illustrator decide where the text should go and on what page. I understand you have a vision of how the story should be laid out, but it takes a huge creative structure away from the illustrator if you tell us what words should go on what page.

  1. Please Don’t Ramble On in Your Query.

I just want to get to your story. Short and sweet is best.

Given the volume of manuscripts Ripple Grove Press receives, they are no longer able to individually respond to each submission. Please allow 5 months for them to review your submission. If they are interested in your story, you can expect to hear from them within that time. If you do not hear from them after that time, they are not interested in publishing your story. It’s not you, it’s them! They receive thousands of submissions and only publish a few books each year. Keep trying with another publisher!

Visit the Ripple Grove Press submission page.

Good luck!

All photos from Pixabay.com.

More Ripple Grove Press Guest Posts:
Interview with Amanda Broder, Publisher
How to Read a Wordless Picture Book
The Picture Book Idea Syndrome
You Can Judge a Book by Its Title, and Other Wisdom from the Submission Pile


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