by Heather Moore
Last week I blogged about queries and touched a bit on the difference between query letters and cover letters.
When you first send sample chapters of you fiction manuscript to an agent or publisher, you include a query letter. If the agent or publisher requests additional material, whether a partial or full manuscript, you should include a cover letter.
If you're submitting an article or other non-fiction piece, check the submission guidelines. Often with non-fiction material, a cover letter is specifically requested. John Wood, author of Query & Cover Letters , said, “A cover letter is not really a letter; it’s a note whose sole purpose is to briefly introduce yourself and your submission, then get out of the way . . . it should be no more than a half page.”
Basically a good cover letter has three parts:
1. The introductory paragraph: This describes what you're enclosing and why. Be sure to remind the editor that he/she requested the material.
2. The biographical paragraph: This should be brief and explain any relevant writing credentials. Or it might answer any questions that the agent or publisher asked about your prior experience/publications.
3. The concluding paragraph: Close the letter politely. Phrases like, "Thank you for your consideration," "I look forward to hearing from you," and "I appreciate your time," are all appropriate.