Monday, 18 January 2010

The Covering Letter

I have already talked about one aspect of a submission pack, the synopsis. But what about the covering letter?

First of all, the covering letter is going to be brief. Our hassled agent’s assistant is not going to want to read three or four pages of even the best letter writing. My view is that all that needs to be said can be said on one page. Taking into account the addresses, salutations, farewell, signature and Enc, we’re talking about half a page of detail. And it’s no good reducing the font size or the line spacing. 12-pt font, double-spaced lines, and you must say all you want to in half a page. Everything must exude professionalism. That means no typos. Grammar all checked. So, what should be included?

(i)What have you written? Title, genre, length, and target age.
(ii)A plot summary in one or two sentences.
(iii)Why your MS captures the zeitgeist, or why it is a timeless classic, or what it is that is new and unique about it. Who is going to read it, and why. Is there series potential?
(iv)Who you are. What is your experience of writing? What is there to indicate that, even if your book is excellent, you are any more than a one-hit wonder? Are you dedicated to becoming a writer, come what may?
(v)What state is the MS in, i.e. is it complete and ready to read?

All in half a page.

More on the covering letter later.

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