Saturday, April 29, 2006

Dear Morgan ~ a Cover Letter?!?

Morgan Hawke
~ Mad, Bad, and Dangerously in the Know!

----- Original Message -----

"Dear Morgan,
-- The submission guidelines specifically request that you include your writing background in the cover letter.

What should you say when you have NO writing background? Do I just say: "I have no writing background, this is my first book." Or should I write something flowery that sounds good, but pretty much states the same thing?"

-- Aspiring Author

Dear Aspiring...
-- What do you tell your potential Publisher?

The blunt TRUTH.
Beating around the bush may be polite in some circles, but it's not a good idea when you're dealing with an Editor. They don't have time to plow through a hunk of text to find out if you're a Name Brand author or just fresh new talent.

Your cover-letter is, in fact, a snap shot of YOU, as much as it is the book you want them to look at. Polite never hurts, but flowery will only make the editor reading your letter expect a very verbose novel -- something that's going to take a ton and a half of editing to weed out all the extra fluff.

Honesty is Always the Best Policy.
Padding, or Embroidering your credentials is also a Bad Idea. This is the Age of the Internet. The truth about your publishing credits, or your lack of them, is not something you can hide for long.

Also, the person reading your manuscript is an Editor. Whether they work for a magazine or a publishing house, you can be rest assured that YOUR Editor has seen THOUSANDS of manuscripts from rank beginner to polished professional. They will know in One Glance how much writing experience you actually have.

The last thing a potential Publisher wants working for them is a Lia... Ahem... Someone that is Less than Honest.

Cover Letter Format:
Good afternoon Mr. (LAST name of the editor you are (e)mailing, this letter to),

This is who I am, and where I live. This is where I heard about you.

I would like to offer you my book, My title, at this word-count length/this many pages. Whether or not it's ever been published before.

This is how much experience I have writing. (Newspapers, magazine articles, story post sites, fan-fiction, and contests count.)

My book in detail:

My title
The story's genre
My log-line

My book blurb.

My first three chapters and my detailed plot synopsis can be found on the following/attached pages.

This is how much I would like to work with you, and how willing I am to take what editing help I am offered.

Very Sincerely,

My REAL Name
My Pen Name (if you're using one)
My email
My phone number
My websites (ALL of them)
(And for Pete's sake -- Don't forget to SPELL CHECK your Letter!)

Okay, what DIDN'T I put in there?

My life history, my family life, my job, anything embarrassing, anything self-loathing, anything that might make them think I wouldn't be absolutely positively devoted to writing for them, anything that might make them think I wouldn't have the TIME to write for them.

In short -- Only what they ASKED FOR in as short, and tight, and Professional a fashion as possible. If they want anything Personal, they'll ASK.

Think of your Cover Letter as a Job Interview cuz guess what? That's exactly what it is.

Morgan Hawke
Smut-Writer - and Damned Proud of it!

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