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Query & Cover Letters

The Difference Between Query and Cover Letters

Both cover and query letters are letters of introduction. but query letters include a synopsis of the project in question (in order to entice an agent to read more) and cover letters do not. A cover letter presumes that the editor who receives it will read the enclosed/attached materials.

Formatting a query letter

  1. The first paragraph should contain a catchy one to two sentence long “hook” for the work you are seeking representation for. This should be a brief and direct statement about your work that attracts the attention of the agent/editor.
  2. Paragraph two: This should be a mini-synopsis of the work. The paragraph should be well written, concise and should entice the agent to read more of your work. For inspiration consult the backs of other books.
  3. Paragraph three: The third paragraph is the biographical section of the letter. This paragraph should contain general information about you, outlining any works you have written, academic achievements, and any writing awards you have received. Keep the paragraph focused only on relevant information, the focus should remain on the writing aspects of your biography.
  4. The closing of your letter should thank your contact for their time. If your work is non-fiction then let the reader know that you have enclosed an outline, table of contents and sample chapters for their review. And if your work is fiction, let the agent know that a full manuscript is available for their review.

Formatting a cover letter

  1. Paragraph one should state what you are submitting. The paragraph should be fairly short and include the title of the work, approximate word count, and the genre.
  2. The second paragraph should explain why you chose to send your work to that particular publishing house. This paragraph should demonstrate that you have done your research and have some general knowledge about the industry and markets.
  3. The third paragraph should be about you as a writer. Remember to remain on topic, editors are busy people and at this point in your relationship do not want to know about your personal life. Include any background expertise you may have in the field you have written on, and any past publishing credits. If you are a new writer without any past experience, you may want to omit this paragraph.

Resources on writing query and cover letters

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