Monday, August 20, 2012

Query Holiday Guidelines

As announced earlier this month, I am open to unsolicited submissions from this very moment -- Monday, August 20, at 8 a.m. -- until Friday, August 24, at 11:59 p.m. To submit, please use the following guidelines (adapted from the ones for the SCBWI Winter Conference--but they HAVE changed, so don't refer to those):

  1. You can see my general "What I'm Looking For" at the Submissions page on my website. You should also check out the Books page on my website and the "Books I Edit" label to the right to see more about the kinds of things I publish. Genrewise, I'm always pretty much looking for everything -- picture books, middle-grade, YA, mystery, fantasy, romance; what's important to me is the freshness of the voice and idea, the quality of the writing and story, and the depth of the characters and the emotions explored. 
    1. Expanding on this: The writer and blogger Caleb Crain once defined "depth" as "a sense of the complexity of reality," and that's precisely what I mean when I say I'm looking for a novel with literary depth: I want fiction that presents the complexity of reality (which could be a funny or romantic reality as well as a tragic one--indeed, most realities are in more than one mode), and writers who can make those realities tangible and meaningful. 
  2. IMPORTANT ETA:  You may submit only one manuscript during this period. Any additional manuscripts after that will be noted and deleted unread.
  3. Open up a new e-mail to CBKEdit at gmail dot com. Agented submissions should continue to go to my work e-mail address.
  4. In the subject line, put the code word SUMMER SQUID, your name, and the title of your manuscript. ("SQUID" is a nickname I've long used in affectionate reference to slush-pile manuscripts; I eventually decided it stands for "Submissions, Queries, and Unsolicited Interesting Documents").
  5. In the body of the e-mail, please include the following elements in this order:
    1. Your name
    2. The title of the manuscript
    3. The format/age/genre of the manuscript. To keep this simple, include any of these options as appropriate:  Picture Book / Easy Reader / Chapter Book / Middle Grade / Young Adult / Nonfiction / Fantasy / Mystery / Romance / Paranormal / Historical / Poetry
    4. A portion of the manuscript as follows:
      1. Picture Book: complete text
      2. Novel (whatever age): the first chapter
      3. Nonfiction / Poetry Collection / Etc.: the first ten pages
    5. Your query letter, including your contact information, and a flap-copy-like summary of the work as a whole.
    6. If you are an author-illustrator with a picture book text that you want to illustrate, I suggest any of the following methods: (a) paste the full text here, then include one sample illustration in the body of the e-mail; (b) paste the full text here, then put a link to your website in the query letter so I can see your style; (c) if you have a full dummy available online (the best option), simply include a link in your query -- no need to paste in the text.
  6. I am able to read HTML submissions, which will retain manuscript formatting; I am also able to read plain text, whichever you send and prefer. Please do not send attachments. I do not care about any formatting questions beyond the inclusion of the elements above in the order I specified them, so please don't ask them.
  7. You will receive an automatic reply letting you know your manuscript has been received. It says that you will get a response within six months, and I will do my best to keep to that. I have often failed to stay within these expectations in the past, which I regret, but I'm doing the best I can.  
  8. SUMMER SQUID Submissions received after 11:59 p.m. on Friday will be deleted unread.
  9. As with my submissions through the regular mail, if I am interested, I will send you some  personal response; if not, you will receive a form letter. Due to the demands created by the many manuscripts I receive and edit, I will not be able to correspond further than this if I am not interested. 
Thank you for your interest, and I look forward to seeing your work.


  1. This is so exciting! I really appreciate your doing this. It's got to be a ton of extra work for you.

    May I ask why you ask for the sample pages before the query? It's so unlike other guidelines I've encountered that it makes me really curious.

  2. You have a large heart, Cheryl. Thanks.

  3. Thanks so much for your generosity. May you find what you love.

  4. Thank you for this opportunity, Cheryl! :)

  5. If we do not receive an autoreply, do we need to resend? Thanks for your help!

  6. This is a phenomenal opportunity and very much appreciated. Thank you!

  7. Hello Ms. Klein. I followed your directions but did not receive the automatic reply back from Would you suggest that I send it again?

  8. For those inquiring about the autoreply: Oddly, it can take a few hours to get the supposed autoreply back (I tested this myself yesterday after someone asked). If you don't get the message within 24 hours, leave a comment here and I'll figure something out.

    Also, I glanced at some of the submissions, and some of you seem to have missed the part in my guidelines where I say the sample comes before the query letter (because the proof is in the writing, not in how you sell the writing). I have the world's most straightforward query guidelines above. Please obey them.

  9. What an honor to be given the opportunity! Thank you! And thank you for the autoreply. Love autoreply confirmations. :-)

  10. Jennifer NorwoodAugust 21, 2012 10:50 AM

    Hello Ms. Klein. I sent in my submission yesterday at 8 am. I still have no received an autoreply. Thank you so much for your generosity.

  11. Well, I didn't receive an autoresponse and figured cyberspace ate it before it reached its destination. So, 12 hours later, I resubbed and received the "auto-response". So, maybe it is just a glitch?

  12. It's been 24 hours for me, too, and no auto-response. Is re-subbing okay, or is there a different way to proceed?

    Thanks for this opportunity, and I hope it turns out well for you. :)

  13. Cheryl,
    Thank you so very much for this opportunity.

    I'm guilty of having the reversed the sample and query so I've resent. My apologies for not paying sufficient attention to the order. I received a confirmation for the first, and nothing for the second.

    All the very best with your SQUID.

  14. Hi Ms. Klein. Thank you for your response. To update you, after waiting twenty-four hours, I resubmitted my entry to no avail. I appreciate any ideas you may have on receiving confirmation and your patience of course. :)

  15. I didn't receive an auto-response either, and it's been over twenty-four hours since I submitted. :/

  16. Dear Ms. Klein, Thank you for this awesome opportunity!

  17. Hi Ms. Klein.
    I submitted on Tuesday and retried again Thursday without an auto-response either time :(
    Thanks so much for your willingness to take our manuscript submissions.

  18. Thank you for this opportunity! I hope you find the perfect match in this Summer SQUID. :-)

  19. What a lovely thing to do!

    You didn't specify which time zone you had in mind re: the 11:59 p.m. deadline, however I assumed you meant your own, E.S.T. (I'm in Illinois).

    Many thanks for this generous opportunity,
    Jennifer DuBose

  20. Ms. Klein - I haven't received an auto reply, so I'm just checking in... My contact information is

    Thanks a thousand times over for your time!

  21. Thank you so much for this opportunity!