The dreaded covering letter

One of The Crafty Writer readers asked me recently to give her some advice on writing a covering letter for a picture book she’d written. Well I’ve already dealt with non-fiction covering letters for books and articles previously, but I haven’t looked at fiction. Note, this can be applied to adult and children’s books alike. So here goes.

beatrix-potter-the-tale-of-peter-rabbitA covering letter should be no more than one side of an A4, use a business letter format and include:

  • Your address and contact details
  • The date
  • The publisher / agent’s contact details
  • A salutation (Dear …)
  • A summary sentence (Re: …)
  • A paragraph that sums up the main genre, market and theme / concept of the book
  • A paragraph about your writing credentials
  • A concluding paragraph.

For example, if Beatrix Potter was going to write a covering letter for The Tale of Peter Rabbit it might go something like this:

Beatrix Potter
Hill Top Farm
Sawrey
The Lake District

4 August 1901

Frederick Warne
Frederick Warne & Co
373 Fleet Street
London

Re: submission of children’s picture book manuscript: ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’

Dear Mr Warne,

I am submitting the text and illustrations of a children’s picture book to you for consideration. ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ will be suitable for children 4 – 7-years old. It is the story of a naughty little rabbit called Peter who, despite his mother’s dire warnings, decides to trespass in the garden of the tyranical Mr McGregor and his desperate attempts to escape.

I have written and illustrated children’s stories since I was a child and am particularly interested in the secret lives of farmyard animals. I have had some success self-publishing a limited run of Peter Rabbit in the form of an illustrated letter and have won a number of writing competitions including the Lake District Short Story Contest.

I have attached the text for your consideration and a SASE for your response. I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Sincerely,

Miss Beatrix Potter

You can use this form for any fiction query letter. If you are submitting a novel, you would simply say ‘I have attached a synopsis and sample chapters for your consideration’. With a picture book you submit the whole text.

If you would like some help crafting your covering letter and synopsis, visit The Crafty Writer services page. Next week we will look at how to write a synopsis.

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Related posts:

  1. Letter writing competition
  2. Children’s writing competitions
  3. My First Poem competition

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2 comments on “The dreaded covering letter

  1. Pingback: Incurable Disease of Writing | Just Write Blog Carnival August 29, 2008 Edition

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