So, bottom line, my “platform” isn’t big enough just yet to lock in a traditional nonfiction book deal (if I even ultimately decide to go in that direction) for Round America with a Duck. The only way to really grow that platform is to ask you to follow me on the Round America with a Duck blog (click here and scroll down to the Subscribe prompt), on TikTok at SpeedofBike and/or RoundAmericaWithADuck, and/or on Instagram at Round America with a Duck— AND for me to continue to live the book and share the journey. Which I’m doing. So, there’s that. Onward.
Big thanks for the very positive replies I received from several literary agents, and the open invitation to circle back with them a little farther down the road. Below is my query letter* if you’re an agent who wants to reach out so we can start to establish a relationship for when my platform turns the corner.
Otherwise, I’m ‘ducking out” from contacting additional agents for now. I’m too busy for rejection. I got a Hare Krishna festival to attend this weekend in preparation for my confirmed Krishna temple stay in Utah, followed by a Greyhound bus pilot-test trip with my folding bike (which is currently in the shop for a repair, and then I’m gonna paint it like my other bikes, shoes, skates, helmet and earrings).
I am simply too busy for rejection, team. As usual, I continue to trust the journey. Join me.
* Dear (insert agent’s name):
Would a silly little duck strapped onto bike handlebars help forge connections with strangers that could change lives — and maybe even our country? Find out in ROUND AMERICA WITH A DUCK, a highly-original and inspiring 70,000-word narrative nonfiction journey with how-to sidebars.
Here’s why this outside-the-box book is needed. It’s no surprise, especially now, that people are questioning our way forward. Dire news assaults us daily. Generational, ideological and many other differences are tearing us apart (in the world’s most divided country, according to results from a 2021 Pew Institute global study). Hope is at an all-time low, and both suicide and divorce rates are soaring. People are hungry for positive true stories that renew faith in our country’s future. Facing my own personal and professional turning point, I’ve made a unique decision for a married mom in suburbia. I am choosing to travel 5,437 miles via bikes, buses, trains and WWOOFing (working on organic farms) in a country-at-a-crossroads, in a world-in-crisis, to find and share reasons to believe in a better tomorrow.
ROUND AMERICA WITH A DUCK* will tell a highly-relatable personal story while also shining a light on unsung heroes on the front lines of climate impacts, inspiring successes in the face of disasters, joy as an act of resistance, and hopeful harbingers of change that may empower readers to consider new possibilities for our shared humanity – and for themselves. It is particularly pertinent right now as people of all ages are “quiet quitting,” working as digital nomads, and choosing (or considering) additional ways to live outside the traditional box of expectations. It has evergreen appeal as these movements continue to grow for all ages, especially as more than 10,000 Americans (many of whom are book-readers) become seniors every single day. It will appeal to fans of travel writing, books about sustainability, and books that explore the intersection of personal growth with social change as it reminds readers that the human spirit is truly indomitable.
Featured in O: The Oprah Magazine as a “passion person,” I’m a subject-matter-expert with a growing platform centering all aspects of triple-bottom-line sustainability and resiliency. I’m an insatiably-curious, quick-learning member of the high-IQ society Mensa, which will make it easy to quickly process and communicate continually-new information during this five-month trip. I’m also involved in numerous networks that expand my reach. There is already a dedicated website for ROUND AMERICA WITH A DUCK and a significant TikTok presence — #RoundAmericaWithADuck currently has more than 27k views. Other book/blog combos of mine include Traveling at the Speed of Bike as well as Food for My Daughters (what one mom did when the towers fell — and what you can do, too). I have reached out to you specifically because (insert personalized reasons why I am contacting this specific agent), and I am hopeful we can establish a successful long-term relationship.
See below for a sneak peek at the chapter headlines for ROUND AMERICA WITH A DUCK. I would love to send you the complete proposal, which includes the funny and thought-provoking first chapter. I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and via phone/text at (insert number). Thank you for your kind consideration.
Trust the journey,
*title inspired by my favorite book of all, ROUND IRELAND WITH A FRIDGE, which has sold over a million copies and been adapted into a movie
P.S. Here are the current chapter heads and a brief description of each:
1. Tiny House, Big Idea (pilot test on Our Giving Garden farm and education center, which donates 100% to those in need in Mableton, Georgia — the newest city in the USA)
2. Kids Today (Spinning Plates Farm, a North Carolina farm and cheese dairy during goat birthing season and an overview of cross-generational challenges and opportunities)
3. The Art of Freedom (USA’s best public art program located in Philadelphia, PA and overview of changing rules and realities nationally about who gets to occupy public space, when, where, how, and why — and who gets to decide that)
5. Getting My Kicks (Joplin, Missouri with a deep dive into Route 66 as well as the new Bike Route 66 and an overview of contextualizing history in order to highlight and heal impacts)
6. Horse Sense (Warrior of the Rainbow horse sanctuary and rehabilitation farm in Missouri, and a peek at the growing mental health challenges in the USA today as well as positive emerging solutions)
7. Green with Envy (an update on several Midwestern cities torn apart by tornados, including Greensburg, Kansas which I covered in a national feature magazine 15 years ago, to see what ideas other cities may be able to use to increase resiliency)
8. New Habits (Dominican Sisters of Peace Heartland Farm in Kansas, and a reflection on both time-tested and emerging ways to incorporate nature-based spirituality in your life today)
9. Time Makes You Bolder (Boulder, CO and the multiple “mountains” advocates are climbing to create monumental change in America today)
10. Rocky Mountain High (Colorado hemp farm and an exciting glimpse at the emerging triple-bottom-line impacts of “wonder crops” such as hemp and others)
11. Belly of the Beast (Montana bison farm owned by my former boss, Ted Turner, and the value of conservation for saving species and the world, as well as a sustainability tour of Bozeman by the current mayor — and my former Turner supervisor)
12. Continental Divides (Butte, Montana Continental Divide Trail and the climax of the book, regarding hope for bridging deep chasms in our society)
13. Llama Mama (Largest llama rental ranch in Utah, run by Hare Krishnas, and a reflection on what it means to be a woman and a mother in our changing country and world)
14. What Happens in Vegas (Las Vegas, Nevada and surprising sustainability stories from this city of decadence showing just how broad the opportunity for “doing good” is, including a spotlight on the diversity of love)
15. A Date with Death (Death Valley, CA commercial date farm and production facility, with insight about the environmental, economic and social impacts of increasing drought)
16. Everything Old Is New Again (Los Angeles olive, pomegranate and grape orchard, putting new twists on ancient methods — and reuniting with family for my 60th)
17. Epilogue (the flight home, a return visit to the Tiny House, and final revelations)