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Friday, 23 October 2009

Query/cover letter

Here's my cover letter for A Proper Charlie. I'm told it must be a page long, no longer, must reveal a little about me, mention the book (not too much, that's what a synopsis is for!) and tell of past triumphants if any - mine's a few short stories in women's magazines and Eden my first novel.


Mr Lovely Agent
1 Will Represent You Road
London
WC2A 2GH

Dear Mr Lovely Agent

I enclose the synopsis and sample three chapters of my 80,000 word chicklit novel, A PROPER CHARLIE as requested in your new submission guidelines.

A PROPER CHARLIE is a contemporary romantic comedy aimed at the modern woman. Charlie is an office clerk. She’s a modern, social butterfly, and Ben is a serious, social dodger. Both are attracted to one another and both think the other is too good for them. They also have secrets.


I believe this novel will be enjoyed by twenty and thirtysomethings in particular. I see it as a novel for the Bridget Jones/Love Actually market.

I have worked very hard to make this novel as ready as possible for publication but I am also very used to welcoming editorial guidance. I am ambitious to become a successful author and am prepared to work as hard as necessary to achieve that.


I have EDEN published with YouWriteOn.com (POD), and run my own successful writing group for aspiring writers.

I know how busy you must be with existing clients but you will understand that I want to approach other agents fairly soon; therefore, I will submit A Proper Charlie to other agents or publishers in three weeks.

I very much hope that you will like what you read and that you will want to see the rest of A PROPER CHARLIE.


Yours Faithfully,

Louise Wise.

So whadda think? I've researched the "perfect cover letter" and have taken advice from many writers including Nicola Morgan and her BRILLIANT blog (try the link, why don't you?).

There is lots of advice out there, and I've come to the conclusion that there isn't one particular right way! A few wrong ways maybe, but definitely no right ways. It's a matter of telling the agent/publisher what you're offering in a business like manner.

How hard can that be?

Aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

5 comments:

  1. Just a little thing that's niggling me about this letter - 'an office clerk' Are you sure people still use this term? Because I'm not really certain what it means in today's offices. Good luck with it!

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  2. That's a good point Keren. I hadn't thought of that.

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  3. This came in via email. Thank you to Sally Clements who also supplied me with this link: www.booklaurie.com

    Here, in asterisks, is her revised version of my letter:

    Dear Mr Lovely Agent

    *Modern, social butterfly Charlie is madly attracted to Ben, a serious, social dodger, but suspects he’s too good for her. There’s also the matter of her secret, and she suspects he’s hiding something too.*

    I enclose the synopsis and sample three chapters of my 80,000 word chicklit novel, A PROPER CHARLIE, which is a contemporary romantic comedy aimed at the modern twenty/thirtysomething woman. I see it as a novel for the Bridget Jones/Love Actually market.

    I have worked very hard to make this novel as ready as possible for publication but I am also very used to welcoming editorial guidance. I am ambitious to become a successful author and am prepared to work as hard as necessary to achieve that.

    *A Proper Charlie is my second novel, my first novel, Eden* was published with YouWriteOn.com (POD). ! also run my own successful writing group for aspiring writers.

    I know how busy you must be with existing clients but you will understand that I want to approach other agents fairly soon; therefore, I will submit A Proper Charlie to other agents or publishers in three weeks.*I’d leave this out. Agents and publishers expect that you’re not being exclusive when querying, and might see it as an attempt to get them to hurry up.*

    I very much hope that you will like what you read and that you will want to see the rest of A PROPER CHARLIE. *I’d also put in a link to look at Eden somewhere, or a blog entry or something if you think that might help?*


    Excellent ideas there. It's amazing what others see where you fail. Thanks again, Sally.

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  4. Hi Louise,

    The first thing that stopped me and made me think twice was a comma in the second sentence of the second paragraph, right here: "modern, social butterfly". I stopped again when I came to "serious, social dodger". I'm not an agent (I'm that slightly more pedantic thing, an editor) and most agents' eyes may slide merrily over these two commas, but for me, they get in the way, and get in the way to the extent that "Charlie is a butterfly who is both modern and social" is how I read the first line and "Ben is a dodger who is both serious and social" is how I read its other half. Why not pare it down to : "Social butterfly Charlie is madly attracted to Ben, social dodger..."? Fewer words, simpler and stronger picture.

    Cheers, Paul

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  5. Brilliant advice, thanks Paul.

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