Traveling Teens, Rocky Roads – Query Letter

What makes me “The Adventurous Writer”? I keep submitting my ideas to my agent, possible publishers, and potential editors — no matter how many rejections and “that wouldn’t sell in a million years” ‘s I get! Rejection isn’t fatal, but giving up is, my friends.

“No rejection is fatal until the writer walks away from the battle leaving dreams and goals behind,” says Jeff Herman (literary agent of Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield, who created the Chicken Soup for the Soul series).

Traveling Teens, Rocky Roads was my second non-fiction book idea. Here’s the query letter I sent:

Dear Esteemed Editor,

He was 16 years old when he was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. When asked about his part in the murder of a 14 year old girl, Warren Glowatski said he needed release. From what? “All the negative shit I was dealing with: my parent’s divorce, having nowhere to live, just totally feeling unloved, uncaredfor, powerless.” (Chatelaine, January 2007).

Not having control can be the most stressful part of life for both teens and adults. Teens are particularly affected by powerlessness because they’re bound by rules at school, home, and in society. They can taste freedom but are still buckled in.

Teens’ response to stress ranges from participating in murder to dying their hair purple, from cutting themselves to breaking curfew. They’re on their own safaris – and they don’t easily admit their need for a guide, maps, or gear.

But the need is there.

Traveling Teens, Rocky Roads: Secrets to Surviving the Safari of Your Life

  • Hooks readers with exciting comparisons between African animals and real life.
  • Explains how to take control of life – and feel effective and powerful.
  • Describes easy, practical ways to solve problems and deal with stress.

In 50,000 words, this non-fiction book helps teens 13-18 years old deal with change and daily life. The safari analogy grabs interest without being overtly self-help and encourages a sense of control, thus reducing feelings of inadequacy and powerlessness.

My degrees in Education and Psychology give me a solid background with which to research and write this book. I taught grade 8 through high school at an American school in Africa for three years; not only did I go on safaris, I also took my students camping in the wilds of Kenya every year.

And I write. In addition to contributing to various publications (alive, Esteem, Good Times, Today’s Health and Wellness, cahoots), I write weekly articles for the local newspaper.

I look forward to your response.  

Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen


If you have any questions or thoughts about this query letter, please comment below! I’m happy to share how many publishers I pitched to and what their response is.

And, if you’re interested in ways to improve your own query letters, my articles on Quips & Tips for Successful Writers may help:

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