1. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    I'm Welsh - and proud!

    Queries/Submissions Writing a Cover Letter for Agents

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Thomas Kitchen, Jul 20, 2013.

    Hi there,

    After just under two years of writing, rewriting, and then editing, as well as other projects, I am finally ready to submit my first novel to agents. However, I am totally new at this and have no idea what to do. Of course they ask for a synopsis and usually the first three chapters, but what about the cover letter? Sometimes they ask for you to include information relevant to the novel you have written, and I'm assuming that means experience in a certain area. However, as it is a young adult science-fiction novel, I have no experience in that area, except for the fact that I'm 19 years old! I am not a scientific guy and researched most of the things I needed to include.

    If anyone out there is willing to give me advice on what exactly to include, and possibly an example letter, that would be fantastic. Thanks! :)
     
  2. Krishan
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    Krishan Active Member

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    Writer's Digest publish a series of "successful cover letter" blog posts. They print actual cover letters (from books that went on to sell) alongside feedback from the agent or publisher who received them. I'm sure you'd find them useful.

    More general advice can be found on the Writers' Workshop site - though it's worth noting that their resources are geared a little towards selling editing services.

    I wouldn't worry too much about not having "experience". If your work is strong enough an agent or publisher will be able to see past that.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    wrong on the 'of course'... a synopsis is only sent when requested, after interest is shown in your 'query' letter... and you don't send chapters unless the agent's submission guidelines say to...

    a 'cover' letter is what goes with the submission of whatever is requested subsequent to your sending them a query...

    there is much dissent re what the query letter should consist of and how it should be arranged... if you'll email me i can send you some tips on how to write good ones, but you must always go by what each agent specifies in their guidelines...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  4. john11
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    john11 Member

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    Hi. I want to pick up on this one if i may, What if the agent reads the cover letter first, does not like it, and throws it all in the bin. I mean agents get a lot of submissions every day and they most likely skim through them all rather than reading them carefully. A bad cover letter may be enough to get your whole work dismissed without, it may put the agent off reading any further..
     
  5. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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    I've found the query shark blog extremely helpful in crafting my cover letter, which I *think* I'm ready to send off now.

    http://queryshark.blogspot.co.uk/
     
  6. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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    In the case of your 'What If' - if they don't like the cover letter and throw your whole submission in the bin - that's it. You may have the most amazing novel but they'll never give it a look. Harsh, but understand the agent will have hundreds of submissions in a week, and can't read every one. Your cover letter requires a lot of care, time and effort spent on it.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    why are you referring to a 'cover' letter, when it's a 'query' letter that is sent out first?

    a 'cover' letter is only the short missive that accompanies submitted chapters/full mss after they've been requested by the agent/publisher...
     
  8. Steve Day
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    Steve Day Senior Member

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    There are literarily thousands of articles on The Query Letter out there.
    Short of a marriage proposal, it is the most important thing you will write. And like asking him or her to "join you in holy, etc,", you don't get a second chance at rewrite is the answer no, shirley you're joking, or peals of laughter.
     
  9. alexwebb
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    alexwebb Member

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    This is a world I am just dipping my toes into. I've submitted to one literary agency. They had a very strict word count for a short synopsis and a short intro letter (pasted beneath). But one of the reasons I submitted to this agency first, is they are one of many that request the first 50 pages of the novel. I hope that the work will do the talking, but a snappy and intriguing intro has to help.

    Good luck!

    Synopsis:

    Graham is about to be exposed as a murderer. He’d like the opportunity to explain. The problem is he has a lot of people to explain to. 7 billion to be exact.

    Pre Meditated is 103,000 words about the British Prime Minister and a long-held secret. As his world implodes around him, he retreats into Number 10’s very own panic-room to write a confession. But people on the outside have other ideas. Some wish to suppress, some to exploit and some want to use this secret to gain control of Britain itself.

    Pre Meditated is a thriller that holds compelling mysteries to the bittersweet but highly satisfying end. It twists delightful and detestable characters into an unpredictable plotline that escalates one man’s story into a world-changing event.

    Letter:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I'm 35 years old and currently employed as a copywriter. Creative writing is my living but I work in the corporate world and aspire to be a novelist one day. Or at least have the satisfaction of seeing my work published. Pre Meditated is my second attempt. I did not pursue the first, but I believe this novel to be worthy of your consideration. You are the first agency I have submitted to.

    Many thanks,
    Alex
     
  10. Misty'sMess
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    Misty'sMess Member

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    Experience is not really the 'be all and end all' of your cover letter. For me, my university study has nothing to do with my fantasy novel, however I did train as a black belt for several years and used that to justify my fight scenes.

    Consider thinking laterally. Have you taken any classes that might reflect aspects of your novel? Maybe even consider joining a local group for a couple of weeks to gain experience. For example, Maria V. Snyder wrote about a glass blower so she attended a weekend lesson, that was all the experience she ever need to get her novel published.
     

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