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.


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.