What Is a Cover Letter [to publishers]

Glossary > Cover Letter

💬 Definition of a Cover Letter:

A cover letter is an introductory letter to publishers. The letter offers them sufficient details about your work, unpublished content, and yourself. 

Related questions about cover letters to publishers:

How do I write a cover letter for a publishing company?

Cover letters to publishers should describe and offer relevant information about the novel you want to submit and yourself as an author.

In terms of structure, you should start with an elevator pitch, which condenses your novel's idea(s) or work in a few words. As a cover letter is usually a one-pager, an elevator pitch should only be a paragraph.

Next, write how your novel fits in the publishing world (genre, style, etc.) and target audience. If there are any, mention a few titles that are similar to your work. Also, connect your book with your previously published titles, and make sure to say if it's part of a series or collection. 

Then, introduce yourself with a killer author bio. Mention the most relevant elements that would be appealing to the publisher. In the end, give them details of how to reach you. 

Does a proposal need a cover letter?

A proposal cover letter is a prequel to a potential business conversation with your publisher. It introduces the work of the writer to the publishing company. It sets the tone for the discussion and gives both parties relevant information about the possible terms of the meeting.

A good cover letter should address the primary concern of all publishers–whether the book will get noticed among all the other books on the market. Compare your writing to 5-8 comp titles in the market.

Do you write a book proposal before the book?

To put it shortly, yes. You submit your proposal before finishing your manuscript. You must include a detailed outline of what you plan to write in your book proposal, a marketing analysis (comp titles included), and a writing sample (up to a few chapters). This will enable the publisher to assess your writing style to see if there is a match to their pool of readers.

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