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Walks_Btwn_Sight_Unseen

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How should a covering letter (which I assume is aka Query Letter) appear?
#1 - February 05, 2008, 12:12 PM

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There's actually a difference between a cover letter and a query.  Lots of magazines want you to sub the complete manuscript instead of querying.  For those, the cover letter can be short and sweet since they have the actual piece available to see.  I usually just include a couple of sentences about the piece, a short paragraph about myself, and a couple of closing sentences expressing thanks for their consideration and saying I'm enclosing a SASE.

If it's a query letter, then you'll need more than this.  You need a hook which'll make the editor want to see more.  You'll need to give enough information about the piece to let the editor know what's involved.  If it's nonfiction, give an outline of the main points and a few of your references, plus tell why you're the "best" person to be writing this piece.

I've written very few queries so hopefully someone else will chime in to elaborate if I've missed anything important.

Best wishes to you,
Ev
#2 - February 05, 2008, 01:08 PM

Javerine

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I think what EV said was great. I dive right in to what I'd like to write about--(try to) hook them with a gread lead, (which usually becomes my intro if it's assigned) some bulleted points of what I'll cover and then a short paragrah about who I am and why I'm so fabulous to work with.  ;D

(Just kidding about that last one!!)

Good luck!

Janene
#3 - February 05, 2008, 01:40 PM

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... and then a short paragrah about who I am and why I'm so fabulous to work with.  ;D

(Just kidding about that last one!!)

Janene,  don't be kidding about that. It's an important point in a query (or cover) letter.  Editors need to know why they should buy this story idea from YOU and not from someone else. (Because no matter how unique you think your idea is, chances are there's a zillion other writers out there querying about the same subject.)

If you have personal experience, work experience, or educational training in your particular subject, be SURE to mention it in your letter. For example, if you are writing about death and you've worked for hospice, or have had a death or deaths in your own family, tell the editor.  It shows you know what you are talking about.

If you are an educator or have worked with children in any capacity, be sure to mention that, too. It shows you are familiar with kids and their likes, dislikes and needs. (I doesn't hurt for them to know you are educated, too.)

Any reason you can give an editor to believe that the story you are writing is unique and special... is another reason for an editor to want to take a closer look at it.  And that's what we're all after in this business... an editor.

Hmmm. Perhaps we should all band together and kidnap a couple of editors from New York.  :ninja3 :tied :tied :tied :ninja2 Maybe we could force them to take on all our manuscripts....  :paper :paper :paper :paper :paper

Naw... that probably isn't such a good idea.  We might all end up in :jail, and who has time for that?  :dr
#4 - February 05, 2008, 02:59 PM
« Last Edit: February 05, 2008, 03:01 PM by Verla Kay »
Verla Kay

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Naw... that probably isn't such a good idea.  We might all end up in :jail, and who has time for that?  :dr

Hmm...let's see:  a quiet place behind bars, which, incidentally, is a place where children can't bat balloons at your head...
where someone brings you your meals, then takes away your utensils...
where there is no TV, no Internet, no phone, no barking or pooping pets...
where there's no housework, and no guilt associated with not doing said housework...
where relatives seldom come to visit, and when they do, can only stay for a little while...
where one is not responsible for making 36 cupcakes for a kindergarten snack less than 12 hours before said kindergarteners plan to devour those cupcakes...
where one needn't even worry about dressing professionally or appropriately (orange jammies will do)...
and, lastly, where there's absolutely NO pressure to succeed...

sigh...

Yup.  Who has time for that? ;D

buglady, who thinks that jail just might be a writer's dream, but would NOT advise putting that in a query letter!!!!  (Not EVER!)
#5 - February 05, 2008, 03:54 PM

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I LOVE it, Buglady!  :dr

And, who knows, it might be just the hook to pull one of those editors in.  I'm sure at least some of 'em have a sense of humor--how else could they survive in this business?
#6 - February 05, 2008, 04:19 PM

Walks_Btwn_Sight_Unseen

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There's actually a difference between a cover letter and a query.  Lots of magazines want you to sub the complete manuscript instead of querying.  For those, the cover letter can be short and sweet since they have the actual piece available to see.  I usually just include a couple of sentences about the piece, a short paragraph about myself, and a couple of closing sentences expressing thanks for their consideration and saying I'm enclosing a SASE.

If it's a query letter, then you'll need more than this.  You need a hook which'll make the editor want to see more.  You'll need to give enough information about the piece to let the editor know what's involved.  If it's nonfiction, give an outline of the main points and a few of your references, plus tell why you're the "best" person to be writing this piece.

I've written very few queries so hopefully someone else will chime in to elaborate if I've missed anything important.

Best wishes to you,
Ev

Wow you've helped greatly. Thank you kindly.  :love
#7 - February 05, 2008, 05:51 PM

Walks_Btwn_Sight_Unseen

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I think what EV said was great. I dive right in to what I'd like to write about--(try to) hook them with a gread lead, (which usually becomes my intro if it's assigned) some bulleted points of what I'll cover and then a short paragrah about who I am and why I'm so fabulous to work with.  ;D

(Just kidding about that last one!!)

Good luck!

Janene

I've visited your website, you've got amazing credits.

Thanks for your support.

Adaora
#8 - February 05, 2008, 05:51 PM

Walks_Btwn_Sight_Unseen

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Janene,  don't be kidding about that. It's an important point in a query (or cover) letter.  Editors need to know why they should buy this story idea from YOU and not from someone else. (Because no matter how unique you think your idea is, chances are there's a zillion other writers out there querying about the same subject.)

If you have personal experience, work experience, or educational training in your particular subject, be SURE to mention it in your letter. For example, if you are writing about death and you've worked for hospice, or have had a death or deaths in your own family, tell the editor.  It shows you know what you are talking about.

If you are an educator or have worked with children in any capacity, be sure to mention that, too. It shows you are familiar with kids and their likes, dislikes and needs. (I doesn't hurt for them to know you are educated, too.)

Any reason you can give an editor to believe that the story you are writing is unique and special... is another reason for an editor to want to take a closer look at it.  And that's what we're all after in this business... an editor.

Hmmm. Perhaps we should all band together and kidnap a couple of editors from New York.  :ninja3 :tied :tied :tied :ninja2 Maybe we could force them to take on all our manuscripts....  :paper :paper :paper :paper :paper

Naw... that probably isn't such a good idea.  We might all end up in :jail, and who has time for that?  :dr

I do have experience in what I am writing about. Thanks Verla. I think, this is the first time you have responded to one of my topics. I feel honoured.  :love

Adaora
#9 - February 05, 2008, 05:53 PM

MaudeStephany

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For non fiction articles, it is important to not only state YOUR qualifications for writing this particular piece, but also to mention (if applicable) the expert(s) to which you have access and their qualifications.  This can be important if you are writing about something that fascinates you, but you need the expertise of a certified *whatever* to round out your article. Perhaps you know this expert on a personal level (they are a family friend) or you know them professionally (you have studied/worked with them etc). Editors like to see the personal connections you make - after all, they are people too.

That being said, when I sub to a magazine that I know carries lots of non-fiction, I ALWAYS include, in my closing remarks, that I am available to write on assignment. It has won me several writing assignments. I am starting to put together a cover letter to send to various publishers (local et al) to let them know that I am available to write on assignment. I'm thinking it's a good way to pick and choose my writing work - and build a relationship with editors that already know me.

Keep us posted,
Maude  :broccoli
#10 - February 06, 2008, 09:17 AM

Walks_Btwn_Sight_Unseen

Guest
For non fiction articles, it is important to not only state YOUR qualifications for writing this particular piece, but also to mention (if applicable) the expert(s) to which you have access and their qualifications.  This can be important if you are writing about something that fascinates you, but you need the expertise of a certified *whatever* to round out your article. Perhaps you know this expert on a personal level (they are a family friend) or you know them professionally (you have studied/worked with them etc). Editors like to see the personal connections you make - after all, they are people too.

That being said, when I sub to a magazine that I know carries lots of non-fiction, I ALWAYS include, in my closing remarks, that I am available to write on assignment. It has won me several writing assignments. I am starting to put together a cover letter to send to various publishers (local et al) to let them know that I am available to write on assignment. I'm thinking it's a good way to pick and choose my writing work - and build a relationship with editors that already know me.

Keep us posted,
Maude  :broccoli


Thank you so much Maude. I greatly appreciate that information.

Adaora
#11 - February 06, 2008, 08:08 PM

Walks_Btwn_Sight_Unseen

Guest
Janene,  don't be kidding about that. It's an important point in a query (or cover) letter.  Editors need to know why they should buy this story idea from YOU and not from someone else. (Because no matter how unique you think your idea is, chances are there's a zillion other writers out there querying about the same subject.)

If you have personal experience, work experience, or educational training in your particular subject, be SURE to mention it in your letter. For example, if you are writing about death and you've worked for hospice, or have had a death or deaths in your own family, tell the editor.  It shows you know what you are talking about.

If you are an educator or have worked with children in any capacity, be sure to mention that, too. It shows you are familiar with kids and their likes, dislikes and needs. (I doesn't hurt for them to know you are educated, too.)

Any reason you can give an editor to believe that the story you are writing is unique and special... is another reason for an editor to want to take a closer look at it.  And that's what we're all after in this business... an editor.

Hmmm. Perhaps we should all band together and kidnap a couple of editors from New York.  :ninja3 :tied :tied :tied :ninja2 Maybe we could force them to take on all our manuscripts....  :paper :paper :paper :paper :paper

Naw... that probably isn't such a good idea.  We might all end up in :jail, and who has time for that?  :dr

I'm still in school but I worked for CAS = Children's Aid Society for a summer placement and a Day Nursery before that. I love kids.  :love

That helps
#12 - February 07, 2008, 01:27 PM

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