How do you write a good covering letter? I promised in the my last blog post that I would try and find out.
Of course, on the presumption that my book is flawlessly written, this can only lead us to believe that I cannot write a good covering letter, or else said letter, with said flawless manuscript would have resulted in me being available in all good book stores by now – as well as the bad ones.
Therefore, this entire blog post is flawed. How can I tell you how to write a good covering letter if I haven’t written one? Well, here’s how:
I said last time that I didn’t like covering letters, that I wanted my sample chapters and my synopsis to do the talking. Well, that’s all very fine and well, but it would be a bit like a television program without opening credits, a book without a front cover, a prostitute without a short leather skirt and fishnets. It’s all there, it does the job, it’s just not been presented.
The point of the covering letter is to say hello, this is who I am, this is what this is, and this is why I’m talking to you.
It sounds simple. It’s not.
Have a look at some examples out there, a lot of them are pretty dry. That’s fine if you’re writing to someone to ask them to pop round and measure up your front room for a new carpet, but we’re talking about a covering letters in the context of trying to get yourself published.
Trying to get your writing recognised for how amazing it is.
The covering letter will be the first thing your agent reads. It is the first representation of your writing. The most important thing is to make it ‘not dull’. I’m not saying memorable, it just needs to hold their attention long enough to get them to read your manuscript.
So, include the following points
- Why you’re writing to them
- Who you are
- Why you wrote the book
- Any writing experience you have
But write it perfectly. Do not have any spelling or grammar mistakes in it and definitely make sure you get their name right.
Tell them something about yourself that isn’t relevant to the writing. Tell them, that in your spare time you like eating orange jelly babies and singing to your budgie, or that you’re planning to trek across the Antarctic in search of the Holy Grail – if that is indeed what you’re planning to do.
That’s how you write a covering letter. Keep it short, keep it simple, but above all, remember it is the first thing a prospective agent will read.
Keep it interesting. It could be the most important thing you’ll ever write.