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 here 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 more than 7,000 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 almost 50k 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 and summaries for ROUND AMERICA WITH A DUCK. I would love to send you the complete proposal, which includes the funny and thought-provoking first chapter (you can also read or listen to it here). 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 (lessons learned — and losing my dignity — during a pilot test on a farm in the newest city in the USA; you can read or listen to this funny and informative chapter for free)
2. Kids Today ((goat farm/cheese dairy during birthing season, and a trend-alert re: “no contact” intergenerational clashes as well as emerging co-generational partnerships for progress)
3. The Art of Freedom (USA’s best public art program 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)
4. A New York Minute (climate-adaptation innovations and why fast change is needed, especially in post World War 2 suburbia; also a harrowing and hopeful peek at aging in America)
5. Horse Sense (horse sanctuary and rehabilitation farm, and a look at our growing mental health challenges in the USA today as well as positive solutions)
6. The Mother Road (historic Route 66, a deadly tornado’s anniversary, a living ghost town, and the road ahead when facing and healing from past and contemporary triple-bottom-line sustainability impacts)
7. Time Makes You Bolder (the multiple “mountains” advocates climb to create monumental change, the changing face of traditional homesteading, plus the potential of “miracle crops” such as hemp)
8. Salt of the Earth (the Great Salt Lake climate crisis and its potential impact as a harbinger of horrors — and hope — elsewhere, plus a call to “re-train” ourselves while traveling via one of America’s best train routes)
9. Altars Where We Worship (Hare Krishna temple and llama rental facility; insight into a wide range of what’s currently revered in our society and how we can use our natural herd-mentality as humans for good)
10. What Happens In Vegas (surprising sustainability leadership stories from this city of decadence, plus a mind-blowing off-the-grid desert oasis and a reminder that there are many ways to live a life both individually and collectively as a species)
11. La-La Land (from Los Angeles to a lavender farm, and a shocking revelation about an aspirational obituary and how to reframe the stories we tell ourselves about our dire — and dear– reality)
12. Sunset and Mourning (the changing borders of day and night as well as wrong and right while crossing the American Southwest, with illuminating public comment in New Orleans the exact week of the Hurricane Katrina anniversary)
13. Hope Is The Thing with Feathers** (summary of hopeful finds from the journey; a return visit to the Tiny House to see how it, I, the country, and world have changed one year later; resources others may find helpful — maybe even life-changing or possibly world-changing — moving forward)
**refers to my travel companions, Disco Duck and his little currently-unnamed side duck, but also the Emily Dickinson line: Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul. I included that line at the very beginning of my book Food for My Daughters, and I seem to keep going back to it for a way forward in this country-at-a-crossroads and world-in-crisis.