Professionals Won’t Read Anything Without a Cover Letter.

Part of a professional manuscript submission package is the cover letter. Depending on the publisher, editor, or even literary agent, you may have to submit an entire manuscript at once rather than the first half and a synopsis. In other cases, you may send out a query letter first (with a synopsis) and then only submit the manuscript and cover letter after receiving a favorable response.

A cover letter sells the manuscript plus it provides a separate record of submission (protecting work from plagiarism, so be certain to save and date the PDF copy) and contact information. Most importantly a cover letter gives the writer a chance to speak about things they can’t during a synopsis, like illustrative work, or reasons why this manuscript is ideal for a particular demographic or publishing house.

What to Include in Your Cover Letter

  • Title
  • Word length
  • Brief description of the manuscript, and a short explanation to the editor of how it fits the editor’s needs. When you write about this, consider the lesson or overall message your manuscript sends. If you’re writing for children, what will appeal to their parents and convince them to purchase your book?
  • Mention any previous published work you’ve done or writing competitions you may have won, but keep it short and current. If you’ve gotten a degree or minor in Creative Writing, add that to your signature.

When you’ve gotten a literary agent, always consult with them on a cover letter and your manuscript’s format before the final submission. They’ll often know a trick or secretly preferred format for certain publishing houses or contacts.