Monday, May 12, 2008
Cover Letter Query
I received a few follow-up questions from an ACFW/Ohio member who participated in the Barbour tour a couple of weeks ago, and I thought here would be a good place to respond. If you, too, have a burning question you'd like for us to address, please don't hesitate to e-mail us or pose a question in a comment box.
Also, if you are the first person to guess the author of the sample query letter below, as well as the published title of her book, you'll win your very own copy of this fun cozy mystery.
What do you like to see in a cover letter for the proposal? What do you not want to see?
Memorize this fiction-author mantra: STORY REIGNS SUPREME!
Here's a bullet list of items that comprise the cover letter I want to read:
+ Keep it short. You should be able to provide a good overview of everything I need to know in less than a page.
+ Let me know the manuscript's current stage of completion and how much time you anticipate you will need to finish the project.
+ Following your opening paragraph, lead off with a short summary of the story. The more concise you are in your ability to summarize your plot, the more impressed I'll be. Hook me in 75 words or less.
+ Provide a brief author-introduction. I don't need your life history, just a simple overview of your writing credentials. If you are not yet published in full-length fiction, tell me what you're doing to develop your writing skills. Are you a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers organization (ACFW)? Have you taken writing courses? Entered contests?
That's it. Short. Sweet. To the point. Let your sample chapters and the detailed synopsis that follows do the rest of the editor wooing.
Below, I've provided a sample cover letter from a mystery proposal I found impossible to resist. The results are now in published form. A copy of this book is yours if you post the first correct author/title answer in a comment.
Dear Mrs. Downs,
I submit for your review a proposal for a cozy mystery tentatively titled (BLOG-READERS, YOU GUESS TITLE FIRST/YOU WIN). Written in first-person point of view, this is a work in progress with a projected word-count length of 61-62,000 words. I anticipate completion of this mystery project within the next two months.
“This murder stuff is killing my bunions,” says LaTisha Barnhart after her first day of walking around and investigating the murder of Marion Peters. When LaTisha becomes a suspect, the ante is upped and she is determined to clear her name and find the real culprit.
She's burping Mark Hamm's bad cooking to investigate his beef with Marion, getting her hair styled at a fancy salon to see what has Regina Rogane in a snarl, and thinks Payton O'Mahney's music-store lease might be the reason he's singing out of tune when discussion of Marion's murder arises. LaTisha’s thinking she just might use the reward money to get her bunions surgically removed, but she's got to catch the crook first.
My writing credits include "Handled with Care" in Chicken Soup for the Horse Lover’s Soul, and the introductory story in Living Miracles: Stories of Hope from Parent’s of Premature Babies. I am also a member of Penwrights, a very active critique group, a member of the E-loop, The Writer’s View, and a long-standing member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). I am currently Zone Director for ACFW’s MidAtlantic zone.
Thank you for your time and I hope we will be able to work together on this project.
Jane Q Author
Editor Du Jour Susan