Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cover letters

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.

2 comments:

Josi said...

My first cover letter was over a page long and was focused on convincing them why I was the best thing that's ever happened to them. I look back now, after I've learned so much, and just cringe. This is great advice, heather. Thanks.

Heather B. Moore said...

Sometimes writing a simple cover letter seems harder than crafting an entire novel.