For Inside the Publishing World, I am going to look at how to write an amazing cover letter. For newbies, a cover letter is what accompanies your full manuscript. It is your introduction to your book. A big hello! An editor will often scan the cover letter first to figure out whether the manuscript is in their ball park. Do not be gimmicky or flowery. The cover letter should be concise and professional.
How does a cover letter look? Use business quality 8.5 X 11 white paper. Include a header with your name, address, phone number and email.
Single spaced. One page- the more white the easier the editor will find it to read, but include everything you are supposed to!
So, what is in a cover letter?
Paragraph one- the first things that at editor wants to know are book title, word count, genre, age group, and why you are submitting to them. Did you meet them at a workshop or conference?
Paragraph two- Plot! Tell the editor in a couple sentences what your book is about. This is NOT your full-on pitch, just a couple lines. If you've done some market research or comparison searching, include it here.
Paragraph three- Tell about yourself. Let the editor know who you are and what you are all about. Include any publishing credits, even local newspaper articles. Do you have an author platform? Are you a super blogger with tons of followers? Does your background give you an in? Include any organizations you belong to ie... SCBWI.
Paragraph four- Let the editor know what you are including in the packet. Normally there is at least a synopsis, a full MS, and a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) if mailing. Thank the editor for their time.
Yep, that's all. Keep it simple and professional. You are trying to enter into a business negotiation. Don't forget to spell check.
What not to do!
*Do not spell the editor's name wrong.
*Do not expect an instant reply.
*Do not fax your stuff.
*Do not mix up cover letters meant for another editor.
*Do not submit to several editors at the same imprint at the same time.
*Do not submit to editors that have nothing to do with your genre or age level.
*Do not submit more than one manuscript at a time.
*Do not lie about meeting them previously, or about having an agent.