Thanks for everyone’s patience while I reviewed the Picture Book Premise entries. There were some wonderful ideas and I had a difficult time choosing my favorite. In the end, it boiled down to my gut reaction.

And thus, I got a feeling of what it’s like to be an editor, inundated with multiple pitches, trying to decide which stories sounded the most appealing.

Most of my regular blog friends know that I’m a quirky, humorous writer, so it will surprise you to know the winning premise was NOT quirky or funny! (Hey, it surprised me, too!) I now understand why agents and writers don’t typically tell aspiring authors what they’re looking for. Instead they say, “I’ll know it when I see it.” If I advertised that I only wanted laugh-out-loud premises, I would have missed out on some unique ideas.

Before I tell you the winner (I know, I’m like an awards show cutting to commercial), I’d like to give everyone a few tips on how to write their premises.

Your premise is your pitch. If you have to write a query letter, it’s the whiz-bang-pow paragraph that gets the editor begging to see more. It’s also your 60-second elevator pitch. When you meet an editor or agent and they ask, “What do you write?”, it’s your chance to dazzle them and entice them to request the manuscript.

Your premise should read like jacket copy. Here’s the jacket copy from Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen’s THE HOG PRINCE:

“Eldon Hog is fed up with mud-swallowing and slop-gobbling. He and his friend, Petunia, watch the royal carriage pass by every morning, and Eldon dreams of becoming a princely passenger.

“So it seems that all of Eldon’s dreams have come true when Miranda, a somewhat frazzled fairy, tells him that if he can break the Hog Prince spell put upon him, he will transform into a prince. SMOOOOCHES abound as Eldon searches far and wide for that magical, spell-breaking kiss. He tricks the Cinder girl, Ella (Smoooch! Eek!); Lady Aurora, spinning gold (Smoooch! Yecchhh!); and all the ladies he can find. But is it possible that true love has been sitting under his snout all along?”

Now, that may be a tad big longish for jacket copy, but see how it ends in a question that begs for an answer? You’re left hanging until you open that book and read on.

Not everyone sent a premise that sounded like jacket copy. Some only gave me one sentence, which wasn’t enough to understand what the entire story was about. I couldn’t envision the character or their predicament fully.

Others wrote a little too much detail. Remember you’re pitching a picture book, so if your premise is wordy, an editor may assume that your manuscript is full of unnecessary words. Trim down your pitch; trim down your story’s word count.

Others sent me snippets from their story, but I wanted to see that you could tell me about the story without sending the manuscript. That’s what editors and agents will ask for in a query. If they ask for a query letter but you send the manuscript instead, it may be discarded for not following instructions. (To be fair, I didn’t say DON’T send the manuscript, but you get my gist.)

And now onto the winners!

First, the person who referred the most people to my blog was MONA PEASE! You have won a picture book critique, redeemable at any time, as long as I’m still alive! LOL!

Next, I’ll tell you a little about the premise I choose without giving away the farm. Actually, the two top finalists were what you would call “multicultural” stories. They both struck me as very unique, although the winner’s premise is based on an actual event with a Latin-American folklore feel. Without further ado, the winner of the critique is VALARIE GIOGAS for THE RAIN OF FISH!

Mona and Valarie, please email me at tarawrites dot yahoo dot you-know-the-rest to discuss the details of your prizes.

Thank you to everyone who entered. There were 33 entries, out of which I had “starred” 7 premises, which I think is a pretty darn good percentage of darn good ideas. Y’all are smart and talented writers! Keep writing! Keep dreaming! Keep inspiring! (And keep reading this blog! LOL!)