Your Street Address
Your city, state zip
Your phone number
Name, Title (Example: Executive Editor)
WORTH PUBLISHING (ALL IN CAPS)
City, State, Zip
Dear Ms. or Mr. Name:
Grab their attention and interest! Draw the editor immediately into the “flavor” of your story.
You might want to quote a few of the most dramatic lines from your book. Write this like a blurb on a book cover. In fact, this may become your book jacket blurb when you sell your book!
Make your “pitch” to the editor. Convince her that there is a real NEED for your book on today’s market. This gives her “ammunition” to use when approaching marketing and higher-ups. Research at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ats-query-page/ref/)
See how your book compares with other books on the market. Also, look up a curriculum guide such as http://www2.worldbook.com/students/course_study_about.asp for information on what is taught at different grade levels. Would your book have a school market tie-in?
Show you’re a professional and establish credentials: Although this might be your first book manuscript, let them know you have other books you are working on. Also, tell if you have any magazine credits and if you have met this editor at a conference.
If you have no credits then you have to be more creative. Tell the editor why YOU are the person to write THIS story. Don’t be afraid. Editors LOVE to “discover” first-time authors.
If you have worked or volunteered be sure to mention your experience with children, especially if they are the ages of the children for which you are writing.
Offer a bit of flattery while demonstrating that you are aware of their publishing program. Example: I have enjoyed reading (name one or two titles) and thought “Your Title,” would fit Worth Publishing’s list.
Copy of published story
SASE (Self-addressed, stamped envelope for return of manuscript)
SAS Postcard (Self-addressed, stamped postcard so you know it arrived safely)
Here’s how to make a SAS Postcard:
On a 3X5 index card with your name & address on the front and on the back:
In the upper left-hand corner put the Name of the Publisher. (So you’ll know who sent this)
In the middle of the postcard:
The following manuscript, <Name of story>, was received on ________________. (Place for them to stamp or write in the date.) Signed__________________________
To do a follow-up after you have waited the prescribed time: Write a SHORT letter or send a SASP (Self-addressed, stamped postcard.)
Keep it to one or two paragraphs at the MOST–simple and to the point.
In the upper left-hand corner put the Name of the Publisher (So you’ll know who sent this)
On ________ date, you received MY manuscript, NAME OF MANUSCRIPT. Could you please tell me its current status?
The manuscript is under consideration. We hope to have an answer for you by _________.
The manuscript is still waiting to be read. We should get to it by __________.
Manuscript was returned to you on __________.
Thank you very much for taking the time to assist me in this matter.
(If you got back your SASP, then you know what date they received your manuscript. If you didn’t, then put the date you mailed the manuscript to them.)
Quick suggestions for a cover letter:
1. Make sure your cover letter introduces you in the BEST possible light.
2. Give a few lines of your writing. Make the editor WANT to read your story.
3. Tell the editor why THIS book will be important to their list and WHY it will sell, WHO will want it.
4. Let the editor know that you have hand-picked THEIR house. Tell what books their house has published recently that make you feel that your book will fit into their list. Do NOT send fiction to a NON-fiction publisher. Do your homework!
5. Tell why YOU are the BEST person to tell THIS story.
6. Close with a professional, yet friendly greeting.
Some Points to Remember:
• Write down when you send the manuscript off. (Use a calendar, file card posted on a bulletin board, paper or computer tracking log, or SOMETHING.
But DO keep track of it!)
• Do NOT say your kids, students, other teachers, or your critique group love the story. Do NOT say your story is the next CAT IN THE HAT. This will mark you as an amateur.
• Your letter should sound like YOU, not a stereotype from a book. Let your personality come through. If you are funny or serious or wacky–show it a little.
• Keep the cover letter to a page or less.
• Make a copy of the letter you have sent, so you will know WHO you sent the story to, at WHAT house, and WHEN.
• Enclose a SASE and SASP and relevant clips if you have any.
• The difference between a query and a cover letter is that a cover letter is sent with the manuscript. A query is sent, asking the editor to request your manuscript. A cover letter is much shorter because you do not need to explain what the book is about.
• Use correct postage for manuscripts and postcards. Postcards are now 23 cents.
Some people break all these rules and still get published. These are just ways to get YOU started. One successful writer uses sticky notes with handwritten comments such as
Dear Name, Editor:
Thought you might enjoy this picture book manuscript!
So don’t let yourself get hung up on cover letters– it’s the manuscript that finally sells the book!
A quick note about using search engines: Put “quotation marks” around a subject to hold the words together in your search. Say you are looking for a particular editor on www.google.com.
In the search window type: “Marty Wiseman” editor.