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How To Write a Covering Letter

Literary agents will read the manuscript you send, and some the synopsis, but all will read the covering letter. Writing an effective one may take you a long time, but it is well worth the trouble. 

Covering Letter

The whole thing should:

  • Be well written – you are writing to people who care about words
  • Be concise (don’t waste their time; you want to direct them to the manuscript rather than tell them everything about you). One side of the page is plenty
  • Look attractive (it is the spaces on a page that draw the eye in, not the text, so paragraphs of different lengths and a ragged right-hand margin really help to attract the reader and keep them going)
  • Be knowledgeable about the agency 
  • Begin well (according to David Ogilvy, the copywriting guru, the first 11 words are crucial)
  • Describe the project briefly (in no more than two or three sentences) so that the reader is clear about what kind of book is on offer, and wants to know more
  • Never say at the end of the letter that you’ll telephone in a few days to follow up your submission – it sounds rather menacing (but do email to check on progress if you haven’t heard anything in a month or so).

Some agents and publishers acknowledge what they receive; others do not. Do bear in mind that some small agencies or publishers only deal with the unsolicited submission pile every few weeks, and so the waiting time may be slightly longer.

An agent’s advice

Here is the advice of  literary agent Simon Trewin on writing an introductory letter:

" Life is short and less is more. No letter should be more than one side of A4 and in a good-sized (12pt) clear typeface.

Sell yourself. The covering letter is one of the most important pages you will ever write. I will be honest here and say I find selling myself very difficult, so I can see how tricky this is – there is a thin line between appearing interesting/switched-on/professional and arrogant/unreasonable.

The letters that include phrases like “I am a genius and the world doesn't understand me” or “My Mum thinks this book is the best thing she has ever read” (of course she does – that is her job!) don’t exactly fill my heart with longing! In your pitch letter you are trying to achieve some simple things: you want me to feel that you take your work seriously. Wear your writing history with pride. Tell me about that short story you had published or that writing course you attended and the fact that you are writing alongside a demanding job or in the evenings and weekends when the kids are asleep. Tell me why you write – I love hearing about the different paths that have led people to the moment when they think “I want to write”.

Tell me who your influences are and tell me about the book you are sending me. A few lines will do the job here; I just want to get a sense of the territory I am going to enter. Tell me what you want to write next. Hopefully you won’t be following your commercial romantic comedy with a three-volume science fantasy epic or vice-versa!

At the end of your letter I want to feel in good company and ready to turn the page. I am not interested in seeing what you look like or how old you are – we are not running a model agency here! Publishing isn’t as obsessed with age and beauty as you might think, but it is obsessed with finding distinctive new voices. And a final point: get a friend to read the letter and give you some honest feedback. Put it to one side for a day or two and come back to it – distance is a great editor. "

Simon Trewin

Case Study. The Night Attila Died: Solving the Murder of Attila the Hun by Dr Michael Babcock  

Dear [Literary Agent]:

I am seeking representation for a non-fiction book entitled The Night Attila Died: Solving an Ancient Murder Mystery. I am a college professor with a PhD in medieval languages and literature from the University of Minnesota and a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina. [1]

Historians tell us that Attila the Hun died on his wedding night in 453 AD. Drunk and flat on his back, he died of natural causes – an internal haemorrhage. The only problem with this account (and it’s a big one) is that it’s a complete fabrication. The Night Attila Died challenges 1,500 years of history by presenting evidence that Attila was murdered and that the truth was covered up in the official imperial records. [2]

The events and characters are among the most interesting that history has ever assembled on one stage. There’s Aetius, the ruthless Roman general and boyhood friend of Attila who defeated the Hun in a decisive battle in Gaul. There’s the weak and stupid emperor, Valentinian III, who pulled a dagger from his robe and assassinated Aetius in a jealous rage. There’s the emperor’s older sister, Honoria, who secretly plotted to wrest power from her brother and managed to start a world war in the process. [3]

In the eastern Empire, the characters are just as colourful: Emperor Theodosius II, a weak ruler who bungled the first assassination plot against Attila, and Emperor Marcian, whom I accuse of masterminding the plot that finally destroyed the Empire’s greatest enemy. Throw in, for good measure, a scheming eunuch and a pathetic little dwarf named Zerko. It’s a great set of characters. [4]

But what the book is really about is philology. The textual science pioneered two centuries ago by the Brothers Grimm is the tool that lets us peel away layers of conspiracy and propaganda. Through the philological method we can reconstruct what really happened and how the conspiracy to kill Attila was covered up as official history. Chapter by chapter the reader participates in the detective work. In the end the threads of an ancient conspiracy are revealed and the verdict of history is overturned. [5]

There’s more at stake than just a good detective story. This is ultimately about what happens when two cultures with irreconcilable worldviews collide. It’s how we confront the Other with all the power of the sword and pen. What emerges from these violent confrontations is a skewed understanding of the past. We may call it history, but it’s often just propaganda. The Night Attila Died is rooted in the historical moment of the late Roman Empire, but the conclusions I draw are deeply connected to our own time. [6]

My publications to date are academic, in particular a book on the literary representations of Attila. I am uniquely qualified to write The Night Attila Died, having spent 15 years studying the historical and literary records as preserved in Latin, Greek, Old Church Slavonic, Old Icelandic, Old French, and Middle High German. (But that isn’t keeping me from writing a lively narrative!) I am recognised as an expert in this field and have consulted for a History Channel documentary on “famous deaths”. As an enthusiastic and dynamic speaker who speaks widely at conferences, I intend to promote the book aggressively. [7]

May I send you a full proposal with a sample chapter? [8]

Michael A Babcock, PhD

Commentary (keyed to the paragraph numbers)

[1] Direct introduction. No beating around the bush. No ‘clever’ attempt to hook the agent. Identify the type of book it is. Briefly identify yourself and your credentials.

[2] The hook. What’s unique about this book? Why should the agent keep reading the query letter?

[3] What you’re trying to demonstrate in the body of the letter is your style, your personality, and the ‘interest factor’ of the subject itself.

[4] With carefully selected details, you can pique the interest of the agent. Agents and editors love books – that’s why they do what they do. So show them what the pay-off will be for reading this book. You are also conveying the depth of the subject and your expert handle on the material.

[5] Establish the significance of the topic and its relevance. Establish points of contact with general knowledge (the Brothers Grimm).

[6] Again, this draws out the significance and timeliness of the subject – that is, you’re trying to answer the ‘So what?’ question.

[7] Return to your credentials and qualifications as to why you're the best person to be writing this book. 

[8] End with a direct, unambiguous appeal that requests a specific follow-up action.  

How it worked

‘This letter was sent out by e-mail to agents and out of the ten I submitted to, I heard back from nine and all nine wanted to see the full proposal. Of these nine I had three agents who were interested in representing the project and one, in particular, who pursued it aggressively. This agent called me up and expressed such enthusiasm for the concept and my writing style, that I felt he was the natural choice. Even though there were better known agents who were interested in the project, I opted for the lesser known agent on the theory that he was highly motivated to sell my book. The book sold in less than a month. There were three editors who were interested in making an offer on the book; in the end it came down to two and the higher bid won out. As a side note, the book sold on the strength of the formal proposal and a single sample chapter. The book was sold in December 2003 and submitted in final form to my editor in July 2004. It was published in July 2005 by Berkley Books.’

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Jane Friedman

The Perfect Cover Letter: Advice From a Lit Mag Editor

cover letter for magazine or journal

Today’s guest post is from Elise Holland, co-founder and editor of 2 Elizabeths , a short fiction and poetry publication.

When submitting your short-form literature to a magazine or journal, your cover letter is often the first piece of writing an editor sees. It serves as an introduction to your thoughtfully crafted art. As such, it is significant, but it shouldn’t be intimidating or even take much time to write.

As editor at 2 Elizabeths , I see a variety of cover letters every day; some are excellent, and others could stand to be improved. There are a few key pieces of information to include, while keeping them short and sweet. In fact, a cover letter should only be a couple of paragraphs long, and no more than roughly 100-150 words.

A little research goes a long way

Seek out the editor’s name, and address the letter to him/her, as opposed to using a generic greeting. Typically, you can find this information either on the magazine or journal’s website, or in the submission guidelines.

Read the submission guidelines thoroughly. Many publications will state in their guidelines the exact details that need to be included in a cover letter. With some variation, a general rule of thumb is to include the following:

  • Editor’s name (if you can locate it)
  • Genre/category
  • Brief description of your piece
  • If you have been published previously, state where
  • Whether your piece is a simultaneous submission (definition below)

Terms to Know

The term simultaneous submission means that you will be sending the same piece to several literary magazines or journals at the same time. Most publications accept simultaneous submissions, but some do not. If a publication does not accept them, this will be stated in their guidelines.

Should your work be selected for publication by one magazine, it is important to notify other publications where you have submitted that piece. This courtesy will prevent complications, and will keep you in good graces with various editors, should you wish to submit to them again in the future.

The term multiple submission means that you are submitting multiple pieces to the same literary magazine or journal.

Cover Letter That Needs Work

Dear Editor, Here is a collection of poems I wrote that I’d like you to consider. I have not yet been published elsewhere. Please let me know what you think. Bio: John Doe is an Insurance Agent by day and a writer by night, living in Ten Buck Two. He is the author of a personal blog, LivingWith20Cats.com. Best, John Doe

What Went Wrong?

John Doe didn’t research the editor’s name. A personal greeting is always better than a simple “Dear Editor.” Additionally, John failed to include the word count, title and a brief description of his work.

There is no need to state that John has not yet been published elsewhere. He should simply leave that piece of information out. (Many publications, 2 Elizabeths included, will still welcome your submissions warmly if you are unpublished.)

John included a statement asking the editor to let him know what he/she thinks about his work. Due to time constraints, it is rare that an editor sends feedback unless work is going to be accepted.

Unless otherwise specified by the magazine or journal to which you are submitting, you do not need to include biographical information in your cover letter. Typically, that information is either requested upfront but in a separate document from the cover letter, or is not requested until a piece has been selected for publishing.

Cover Letter Ready to Be Sent

Dear Elise, Please consider this 1,457-word short fiction piece, “Summer.” I recently participated in the 2 Elizabeths Open Mic Night, and am an avid reader of the fiction and poetry that you publish. “Summer” is a fictitious tale inspired by the impact of a whirlwind, yet meaningful, romance I experienced last year. In this story, I gently explore the life lessons associated with young love, with a touch of humor. This is a simultaneous submission, and I will notify you if the piece is accepted elsewhere. Thank you for your consideration. Kindest Regards, John Doe

What Went Right?

In this letter, John includes all pertinent information, while keeping his letter clear and concise. In his second sentence, John also briefly states how he is familiar with the magazine. While doing this isn’t required, if done tastefully, it can be a nice touch! Another example might be: “I read and enjoyed your spring issue, and believe that my work is a good fit for your magazine.”

I hope these sample letters help you as you send your short works to magazines and journals for consideration. While you’re at it, I hope you will check out 2 Elizabeths ! We would love to read your work.

Elise Holland

Elise Holland is co-founder and editor of 2 Elizabeths , a short fiction and poetry publication. Her work has appeared in various publications, most recently in Story a Day . Through 2 Elizabeths, Elise strives to create value and visibility for writers, through writing contests , events , and more!


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[…] view post at https://janefriedman.com/perfect-cover-letter-advice-lit-mag-editor/ […]

[…] To get into literary magazines, you need a cover letter, so Elise Holland lays out how to write the perfect cover letter for a literary magazine. […]

Diane Holcomb

Love this! The letter is short and to the point, and covers all the necessary information. Great tips! I always worry that the only publishing credit I have is the winning entry in a short story contest through the local paper. Should I mention that? And writing conferences I’ve attended?

Jane Friedman

As Elise says, it’s OK if you’re unpublished. Don’t worry about it. But feel free to mention your winning entry. If the writing conferences would likely be known to the journals’ editors, you might mention one or two.

[…] recently wrote a full article on the perfect cover letter, here. Check it out for clear, simple instructions, along with sample […]

[…] publication. Her work has appeared in various publications, most recently in Story a Day, and at JaneFriedman.com.  Through 2 Elizabeths, Elise strives to create value and visibility for writers, through writing […]


Thanks for the concise and useful information! I’ve heard that it’s also a good idea to include a sentence or two that makes it clear that you are familiar with the kind of work the magazine has published in the past. Is this generally advised, or would you consider it nonessential unless specified in the submission guidelines?


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Hints for a Great Cover Letter

how to write a cover letter for a book

[I originally posted this piece over 12 years ago. The information still holds true, but I suspect many have not found the necessary information elsewhere, so I dare post it again. I’ve left all the comments intact since they add to the ongoing conversation. Feel free to add your thoughts.]]


Here are a few suggestions for you to consider when approaching an agent or an editor. Remember to use these as hints…do not follow them slavishly as if a literary agent will spend their time critiquing your cover letter.

By the way, we distinguish between a cover letter and a query letter. A cover letter goes on top of a longer proposal and sample chapters. The query letter is a stand-alone letter that goes to the editor/agent without a proposal or sample chapters. We prefer the cover letter and the rest of the package. Why? Because a query only shows that you can write a letter. A proposal begins the process of showing that you know how to write a book.

Address the letter to a specific person. If sending something to The Steve Laube Agency, simply address the appropriate agent. Every proposal will cross the desk of the designated agent eventually. (Please do NOT send it to all of us at the same time)

Use this cover letter in the body of your email, but NOT the proposal and sample chapters! You’d be stunned to see how many people contact us with a blank email carrying only a subject line of “here it is.”

Don’t waste your time or ours. Do your homework! If you are submitting to an agent, visit their website and follow their guidelines!!! We cannot emphasize this enough! Make certain to spell the person’s name right. (My name is spelled, Steve Laube. Not “Laub” “Labe” “Lobby” “Looby” etc. But note that Bob Hostetler has to address me as “sir” or “the honorable” or “Mr. Boss”.)

If you use The Christian Writers Market Guide or some online database listing agents or editors, make sure you have the most current information because addresses do change (go to their website). Our main office changed its mailing address in February of 2007…and we still discover material is being sent to the old address. You would be astounded by the number of calls or inquiries we receive from writers who have not done their research. Someone called the Phoenix office the other day looking to talk to one of our agents who does not live or work in Phoenix.

Whatever you do, do  not say your book is the next bestseller like Purpose Driven Life , Eat Pray Love, Left Behind , or  The Shack , or that it will sell better than  The Da Vinci Code ,  Twilight ,  Harry Potter , or  The Chronicles of Narnia . That shows an ignorance of the market that is best left alone. [update note: These examples will date you really fast. The Harry Potter books are over 25 years old, published in 1997.]

In addition, please do not claim “God gave me this book so you must represent or publish it.” We are firm believers in the inspiration that comes from a faith-filled life, but making it part of your pitch is a big mistake. Read this blog post for a larger discussion on this point.


The 4-part Cover letter:

1) A simple introductory sentence is sufficient. Basically, you are saying “Hi. Thank you for the opportunity…”

2)  Use a “sound bite” statement. A “sound bite” statement is the essence of your novel or non-fiction book idea in 40 words or less.

The fiction sound bite could include:

a. The heroic character b. The central issue of the story c. The heroic goal d. The worthy adversary e. Action f. The ending g. A grabber h. Or a twist

The non-fiction sound bite should include the main focus or topic. One suggestion is to describe the Problem, Solution, and Application.

If someone were to ask about your book you would answer, “My book is about (write in your sound bite.)”

Another word for sound bite is “hook.”

3)  Tell why your book is distinctive – identify who will read it . (Targeted age group….adult, teen, youth) – point out what’s fresh, new, and different.

One suggestion would be, for your intended genre, read several recent books in the same genre as your own to familiarize yourself with the market.

4)  G ive pertinent manuscript details : a) mention whether or not your book is completed (if it is not, then give an estimate as to when it will be finished) b) word length of the complete manuscript, even if it is an estimate (approximate – round off the number) c) pertinent biographical info d) tell the agent if it is a simultaneous submission e) let the agent know they can discard the proposal if rejected.

Click here to review a sample non-fiction cover letter from someone who approached us via an email inquiry. We signed her as a client.

Keep the letter to one page!!

Please don’t use narrow margins or tiny print to fit it all on one sheet. That is silly. We once received a cover letter with an 8-point font and 1/4-inch margins. It was virtually unreadable.

how to write a cover letter for a book

About Steve Laube

Steve Laube, president and founder of The Steve Laube Agency, a veteran of the bookselling industry with 40 years of experience. View all posts by Steve Laube →

how to write a cover letter for a book

Reader Interactions

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January 17, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Thanks for clarifying the difference between a query and a cover letter. And I never thought about including a note about discarding the proposal if it’s rejected. I’ll remember that next time.

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January 17, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Thanks for the helpful information. Appreciate, too, your making it print friendly. This is going into my “Writing Aids” file.

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January 19, 2011 at 2:52 pm

This is very helpful. Thank you for this overview of the cover letter. I critique manuscripts at writers conferences, and I plan to refer them to this post!

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January 19, 2011 at 11:09 pm

I am confused; this article requires a cover letter be ONE page, double-spaced, exactly while the Guidelines article requests the story be summed up in up to THREE pages, single-spaced. So what are you supposed to do since these contradict and I would like to present myself as expected by Mr.Laube?

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January 20, 2011 at 8:24 am

Let me clarify so as there is no confusion.

This article is about the cover letter. Keep that to one page.

The synopsis is not the cover letter. That piece is where you tell the whole story of the novel in a maximum of three single spaced pages.

Any presentation package to an agent or a publisher has three parts. 1) The cover letter (one page) 2) The proposal – which includes, among other things, a synopsis of the book or story 3) Sample chapters

Hope that helps!

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March 8, 2012 at 11:53 am

Thank you Steve. Any bits of wisdom imparted to the masses is wonderful.

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February 4, 2016 at 11:54 am

So, just to clarify, should the promo sentence, sales handle and back cover copy be included in the same document as the synopsis?

The word count, target audience and platform are all mentioned briefly in the cover letter. Should they also be reiterated more in-depth in the proposal?

Just trying to line up my wayward ducks. There’s no point in submitting a manuscript if it isn’t submitted properly.

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September 21, 2017 at 8:20 am

Thank you for your guidance and clarification. It helps to have every aspect broken down so well.

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May 21, 2021 at 4:29 am

thanks for the offered clarification, one further point please. Perhaps I am reading too deeply and detailed, but cover letter, sample chapters, synopsis, we are talking three separate attachments to the email, given the different structures of each piece. Thanks

January 20, 2011 at 10:33 am

Now I understand. Thank you for taking the time to reply 🙂

As an aside, for further clarification – the sample chapters should always be the first three correct? (No other chapters instead?) And if you have a prelude, I would assume that would not be counted as the first chapter, particularly if it is only a few pages?

One last question please: in the cover letter should you use specific names of characters or simply be broad until you arrive at the synopsis?

Thank you so much for making things clear and God bless you.

January 20, 2011 at 11:06 am

Sample chapters. Always the first pages. Include a prelude or a preface if applicable. The idea for the limitation is to keep what you send under 50 pages of text. Some chapters are very short, some are long. But sending too much will put you in the “I’ll read this someday, when I have the time” pile.

As for the cover letter? You aren’t retelling the whole story in the cover letter so character names are not as critical. But they can be used if appropriate. Don’t write something like “Snow White along with Sneezy, Sleepy, Dopey, Doc, Happy, Bashful, and Grumpy went to the local grocery store to buy some apples.” That can wait for the manuscript or the synopsis if you want to use those names.

January 20, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Great! Thank you again and one absolutely necessary (and final) question please: my prelude is the first 4 pages and that with the first three chapters bring you to page 60. Is that a problem? Should I just cut the story off at page 50? Thank you and this is my final question 🙂

January 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm

I can safely say, without seeing your work or reading a word, that your chapters are too long to begin with.

Cut your chapter length by thinking in terms of scenes. Make chapter breaks more frequent. A twenty page chapter in a novel is far too long in today’s market.

To be even safer, consider hiring a good freelance editor ( click here for a list ) to give you help and advice before ever sending it to us. If a manuscript is pretty good, we will reject it. It has to be magnificent and nearly ready for market.

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March 20, 2017 at 10:23 am

Any idea of the price range for a freelance editor that you have listed on you link?

January 20, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Thank you for the input. My work is Christian fiction, so a few of the chapters are for world-building so that is why some of the chapters may be a little longer. I have plenty of chapters that are 8 or 11 or 14 pages long, but the third one in particular is 27 pages. I suppose I will have to split that up of course, and I do think in terms of scenes (as in a movie)…So be it then.

January 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm

One more question: if you are writing a trilogy and are only submitting the first book thus far, would the synopsis cover only the 1st book or would it encompass all 3? Thank you!

January 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Ryan, There is no hard and fast rule. It is usually a good idea, when submitting a trilogy, to have at least a half page worth of synopsis included in the proposal. A publisher needs to have something they can see in order to buy.

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March 16, 2013 at 4:14 am

I have a project encompassing 5 books on the religious beliefs of the Founding Fathers which uses the historical record to refute the Internet claim that the FF were deists and atheists. The first book is done, 2 others are 85% done. There are over 600 separate cited sources in the first book, two-thirds of which are in the public domain. Must I get written permission from the other 200 sources before I can publish the book or will footnoting the quotes used with TITLE, AUTHOR, PUBLISHER INFO, DATE, AND PAGE NUMBER be sufficient ?

Thanks very much for your help.

January 21, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Great, and with that, I have run out of questions, much to your satisfaction 🙂 Thank you and I will be sending you something soon.

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February 15, 2011 at 4:58 pm

This is a great post. Thank you.

I do have a question, though. I have published my book (11/8/09), but I would like to be represented. What kind of pages do I submit? The book or the final draft of the ms before it went to print?

Also, this book is the first of a series of books that I have outlined at this point with one other ms done (children’s book, which is apart form the series).

How would I document this in a cover letter (the book and subsequent ideas I have outlined as I know you don’t accept children’s books)?

I appreciate your time and attention.

February 19, 2011 at 11:05 pm

A necessary question: are the sales handle, promo sentence & back cover copy lumped in with the synopsis or are they separate in a fiction proposal so that the proposal would contain a cover letter, synopsis, sample chapters and then another page with those 3 items? It just is not clear from what I have read on here. Thank you for clearing this up! God bless you in His name, Ryan

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May 17, 2011 at 6:58 am

Dear Steve,

Thank you for explaining what you expect of our submissions to your office. I spent the night finishing my proposal and cover letter to your specifications and sent out my package today.

Faithfully, Christopher Holms

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August 19, 2011 at 8:33 pm

Steve, I’ve finished my first Biblical historical novel about Jesus, the God-man. While my goal was to stay with twenty pages per chapter, some are a couple of pages longer. And how many lines per page do you suggest? I’ve tried to stick with the typical publisher’s guideline, but would appreciate your comments on this area. Also since you state that you’re open to all genres of fiction, does this include Biblical historical?

August 20, 2011 at 11:13 am

Simply use the computer’s double-space format. Also use one inch margins on all four sides. And use a Times Roman 12 point font. Whatever you do, do NOT try to squeeze more lines on a page. That will only irritate a reviewer.

In general, when using the above formatting you will end up with about 300 words on a page…which is very similar to the word count on a finished book.

A chapter that runs to 20 pages is probably going to feel long, depending on the action and dialogue included. That is over 6,000 words in a chapter.

As for our agency’s interest? I personally tend to stay away from most Biblical fiction. The only exception is Tosca Lee (see her novel HAVAH: The Story of Eve). But you may find that our other two agents may be more interested.

And be aware that if your novel is based on the life of Jesus you will need to compare it to the classic novels by Marjorie Holmes and the novel by Walter Wangerin…all of which are still in print.

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October 2, 2011 at 7:35 pm

As as up and coming writer, it’s so important to attend conferences, begin networking, but most of all, read about your craft. In order to put your best foot forward, a writer needs to know what is expected. I’ve learned the answer to many of the questions above through writers groups, networking at conferences and obtaining an editor to work with me on my projects.

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October 8, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Thank you for this practical advice! Much appreciated. I in preparing the proposal to send off, I am grateful for your graceful bluntness of what you are looking for. Saves us both time and energy when communicating.

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October 20, 2011 at 11:46 am

Thank you for outlining so clearly what exactly you expect in a cover letter! I was unclear on one point, however; the first part you identify – “a simple introductory statement is sufficient.”

I confess, I’m unsure on what you are looking for in that statement. Your example is, “Hi, thanks for the opportunity,” but I can’t imagine that you’re looking for something to blunt and plain. What are you wanting from the author in this statement; what are you seeking to know? Is this statement really necessary, or could a cover letter open with the second part, the sound bite?

Thank you for taking the time to clarify this matter.

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November 5, 2011 at 10:55 am

I have the same question regarding the Introductory Statement. Thank you for posting this information about the cover letter. It is a huge help!

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November 25, 2011 at 4:21 am

Steve, when submitting a proposal for a novel that is intended as the first of a trilogy, is this something that should be mentioned in the cover letter? I’m uncertain as the second book is not yet written and the first works as a stand-alone.

Thanks so much,

November 26, 2011 at 8:43 am

Marge, If you intend to propose a series, even if book one stands alone, that should be mentioned in the cover letter and the proposal. If you are doing a query letter without a proposal then most definitely reveal the plan for a trilogy.

But if you are not certain a second book can be written then do not mention it, instead go with the stand alone.

There are times where the success of a first book creates demand for a sequel. However, most agents and publishers like to know that there is a career or a future with a particular author beyond the first book. One-book wonders do happen, and with some success. But generally we look at the total potential of an author.

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May 9, 2014 at 5:50 am

Steve, Is your answer intended to convey to those of us in later life that we have little chance of finding agents and publishers? Now that I am in my early sixties and have retired I finally have the time to write but I am realistic enough to see that my literary career is unlikely to be long.

How do foreign authors work with American agents? Our style and spelling do not always align well with yours – I am English but I write (and speak) in British English not American.

Many thanks Steve

May 9, 2014 at 9:09 am

Steve Long,

We have no idea of the age of an author because we are reviewing the content of a proposal. The age of the author is immaterial.

Our primary audience is the U.S. reader. If you write with British English a U.S. based publisher will note that they will have to work harder at the various editing stages to change the style to fit U.S. English standards. Some contracts even name the Chicago Manual of Style as the standard to which the submitted manuscript must comply.

My advice? Change to the American style of English and it won’t be a potential barrier.

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December 5, 2011 at 7:03 am

We write for the love of it, to entertain and educate and nobody knows for certain what will fly, so don’t worry too much about anything.

Yes, being professional is good so one ought to be polite and open minded, but we need to write compelling stories – – those that will pull readers in and not let them out easily.

Set our tone, grab a theme and move the story along like an expert, keeping us engaged, questionning and interested. Action, drama, suspense, pathos and transformative characters are excellent pieces of narrative. Hook ’em and don’t let them go.

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January 24, 2012 at 12:59 pm

If I have a self-published book but hope to see it reach a greater audience, do I make copies of the pages to submit to you? I do not have them on a Word document form any longer. Thanks!

February 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm

You will need to have your manuscript in digital form at some point (Word is preferred by most publishers). If you self-published it had to be in digital form at some point. Even your printer should be able to provide a file. If it is a PDF it can be converted back to Word with the right software.

Just copying pages and mailing them is not a good idea.

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January 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm

I’m a Canadian who has a completed manuscript about a personal family tragedy that garnered both political and public support. It tells how our faith and God’s intervention brought discoveries that eluded authorities after the failure of the largest search launched in 30 years.

Although this is a personal story, the case is now being used at symposiums for both Crown and Defence attorneys in Canada.

Does this story fall into the category of anything you’ve worked with or be willing to work with. I am looking for an agent in a very competitive field.

February 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Hard to comment in a blog comment like this because technically I still don’t know what the story is about. Best not to use the comment section to make the pitch.

We have, on occasion, represented a personal story if it is highly unusual and has commercial appeal. In 2013, look for UNTIL WE ALL COME HOME by Kim de Blecourt as an example (published by FaithWords).

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March 2, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Steve – I am seriously impressed to see that you are still tracking new comments on this post a year after it was first posted.

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April 30, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Thanks for the how-to on the cover letter.

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May 7, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Hello: I’d like to receive an example of a one page cover letter to an agent. I have query and synopsis letters and some agents want a cover letter as well. Thank you for your help! Brenda Sue (This is a fiction, suspenseful, murder, romantic novel dealing with international art theft.)

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June 19, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Hi Steve, Thanks so much for going far beyond the call of duty and explaining exactly what is a cover letter. Now, it’s up to me. I’ll do my best.

Blessings, Jackie King-Scott

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July 7, 2012 at 11:58 am

Steve, I have a quick question. I am nearing completion on a Biblical fiction novel about the nativity of Jesus. Since everyone is already familiar with the story, should I take a different approach to the cover letter and synopsis?

Thank you for any advise.

Respectfully, Deborah

January 18, 2014 at 11:03 am

Your cover letter should focus on what makes your story unique. That “selling point” is critical for a publisher when considering whether or not they can make room for it in the marketplace.

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July 23, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Thanks so much for all the help you’ve given us in this post.

Sincerely, Jackie

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August 8, 2012 at 7:49 pm

I’m curious to know if you can provide a sample cover letter as an example. I’m sure it would help others who are visual learners like myself.

In Christ, Fletch

January 18, 2014 at 5:56 pm

A sample non-fiction cover letter is now available for review on our site: https://stevelaube2.wpengine.com/sample-cover-letter/

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August 23, 2012 at 10:04 am

Hello Steve, I have a question. I published a book with another publishing company that turned out to be a POD. My book has a part two to it. The way that I wrote part two you really don’t need to read part one to understand. I would like to send it to you. Would this be a good idea to send in part two.

January 18, 2014 at 11:01 am

That is risky because while you may think the reader doesn’t need part one, in reality there may be things in the story that are confusing to a reader of book two.

I’ve never seen a publisher jump at the chance to publish book two in a series if they do not also publish book one.

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August 23, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Hello, I am currently self published under a freewill contract in which I can cease printing at anytime. I have had issues getting proper statements and wish to be represented for traditional publishing. Will this be an issue for you to accept a manuscript?

January 18, 2014 at 11:00 am

Not an issue if you own the publication rights. It is your book to sell to another publisher.

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January 13, 2014 at 11:08 am

Thank you for the helpful information. I have one question: when sending a proposal by email, do you want a query letter in the body of the email and the a cover letter, sample chapters and synopsis attached as a file, or is the cover letter in the body of the email? Thank you, Lara Van Hulzen

January 18, 2014 at 10:59 am

The body of the email should contain a pitch of some sort. The content of the cover letter described above would serve that purpose well.

A HUGE mistake is made by some who send an email with the body of the email blank or with a sentence like “Here is my book. Take a look.”

Or “If you want to read my book go to this web page.”

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January 18, 2014 at 10:39 am

Do you prefer single or double-spacing in a cover letter?

January 18, 2014 at 10:56 am

Single spaced. Just like a regular letter.

The only thing that is double-spaced is the sample chapters or manuscript itself.

January 18, 2014 at 11:57 am

Thank you, sir, for the fast reply.

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April 29, 2014 at 9:03 am

I have nothing to submit in the moment except my deep gratitude for your site, so full of so much a writer needs to understand and apply. It’s like a free tutorial, clean, clear, concise, a true resource for the explanation of the sticky things, like query, and proposal and what to send to whom, what never to do, what’s absolutely necessary to do, and anything else that causes a writer to do the Stupid Stumble. You save our face over and over with all this help.

I just want to express my pleasure to have discovered such a credible site run by a gifted teacher. Okay. Back to the memoir.

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July 22, 2014 at 11:23 am

I am now confused over the length of chapters. My chapters in standard spacing are between 8-13 pages in length. When I double space them as asked the first three chapters are 19 pages in length. So when you recommend chapters be less than 20 pages are you talking about double-spaced print or standard print? Thanks for your reply.

how to write a cover letter for a book

July 23, 2014 at 6:42 am

Always send a manuscript using Double-spaced text. The proposal and synopsis is single spaced.

Thus your chapters are very long. But it may be that they are just fine as is. Sometimes you can get away with longer chapters.

I do recommend leaning toward shorter…

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March 7, 2015 at 8:30 pm

Within the first paragraph (second sentence) one reads, “…As if a literary agent is going to spend their time….” I would have thought someone in the “profession” would be a bit more capable of matching a singular subject with a singular pronoun. This confusion of “number” has become acceptable I suppose because so many are willing to worship at the altar of political correctness, so as not to appear behind the times while ruffling feathers.

March 7, 2015 at 10:31 pm

I suppose I could have use “his or her” or “his/her” instead of “their.” But instead I used what is called the “Singular Their.”

See this post about that topic: https://stevelaube2.wpengine.com/the-singular-they/

Hope that helps clarify.

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May 18, 2015 at 2:49 pm

I have written a memoir and believe that Karen Ball is most likely the agent with your group who would be interested.

I understand that a cover letter, proposal and sample chapters should be sent to her. In reviewing your instructions for submissions, it seems that much of the information in the cover letter gets repeated in the proposal (or is it just me?!)

Should I therefore just keep the cover letter very succinct? Or do a combo cover letter/proposal and attach sample chapters? Thank you! I’m very new to this.

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June 5, 2015 at 11:48 am

So when writing a cover letter you should specify that you are writing or have written a series of books? I am on my third book and plan on making at least two more. I was told before when writing the manuscript to only focus on that one book, and to reveal the ending of that one book.

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October 27, 2015 at 5:50 pm

Hi Mr. Laube, After reading through the post and the comments, I just want to make sure I understand. Do you prefer the cover letter and proposal to be emailed or mailed?

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November 8, 2015 at 8:00 am

When researching agents and their submission requirements, I see “query, synopsis and first 3 chapters or 50 pages”. I’ve never heard of a “cover letter”. My novel is a 29,000 word middle grade story.

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February 3, 2016 at 8:43 pm

It’s really, really hard to boil down a 200 page book to 40 words. I feel like I”m trying to write a haiku of my entire life….

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February 10, 2016 at 11:35 am

When you write or type a query letter; should you follow the guidelines of literary sites or not to follow the submission guidelines? There were a few writers who didn’t follow the guide-lines and sent a query letter and got represented.

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June 13, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Steve, can you offer a sample 40-word sound bite for a historical? Struggling with the 40 word concept.

Always learn from you.

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August 22, 2016 at 2:29 am

if you are writing a cover letter, or book review, synopsis etc. you should take a glance at this page to find out some tips

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September 19, 2016 at 9:50 am

I was hoping you might clarify for me concerning your guidelines for submission of a query letter versus a cover letter. Do you prefer a query letter be sent via email with the book proposal and sample three chapters or a cover letter sent through the mail with an attached book proposal and sample three chapters? I am slightly confused because its appears the cover letter would only be sent if you were interested in the query letter. Would it be possible to send the covered letter instead via email with the attachments for the book proposal and sample chapters?

July 4, 2017 at 7:55 am

Daniel, I can see how that might be confusing. Try not to overthink it.

Let me clarify…as far as our agency goes, which is not a universal thing.

Never send us a query letter. That one page, if sent by itself, will not help us evaluate your writing in any way.

Always send a full proposal. A part of that proposal will be your cover letter, which is basically a “hello my name is” sort of introduction.

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November 2, 2016 at 7:32 pm

Great post. I didn’t think I could shorten my pitch to a 40 word sound bite, but I did. Thanks

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April 6, 2017 at 9:09 am

Hi Steve This is great. I just watched your interview in the Masters class in the Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild. That was very informative. Thank you. If I want to use a pen name do I include this information in the cover letter? Thank you for your time.

July 4, 2017 at 7:52 am

Yes. It can be as as simple as “I write under the pen name of I. Noah Tall, which you will notice on the title page of the proposal.”

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July 3, 2017 at 11:18 pm

Thanks so much for this helpful post! I just have one question–where can I find the book Hope for Anxiety Girl from the example cover letter? I am 100% the target audience and I so want to read it! I can’t find it online and I’m wondering if a) it was retitled, b) it’s not yet published, or c) it was repurposed into a different book. Thanks again! 🙂

July 4, 2017 at 7:50 am

Rebecca. That specific book idea has gone through multiple iterations but has yet to be published. However, the writer has had other successful projects released. The latest is a co-authored book (with Kathy Lipp) called OVERWHELMED.


July 4, 2017 at 8:52 am

Thanks! I purchased a copy of Overwhelmed last night. 🙂

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July 28, 2017 at 10:50 am

In the Proposal Guidelines, it says to include:

Promo Sentence Sales Handles Back Cover Copy

Do you actually want to see those headings in the proposal? Sorry if this is a dumb question.

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September 22, 2017 at 11:37 am

You’re my kind of girl! Although we’ve seasons and waxing and waning needs, I’ve grown comfortable in the book club porch hammock with a tome of my own selection. I hate someone else deciding where I need to mature or what I’m going to spend a month devouring.

“Teach us to number our days aright, o Lord, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” With a barrage of published and digital words stalking us, we need discernment on what edifies.

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October 9, 2017 at 12:41 pm

I’m a man with a unique name and a unique manuscript searching for a unique agent. I found your answers very helpful, practical and instructive. Thank you.

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July 18, 2018 at 3:09 pm

Hello! I’m not sure if you still check a post this old, but I’ll give it a try. Should the cover letter be the body of the email with the rest of the proposal as the attachment, or should it be a part of the attachment with the rest of the proposal?

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August 15, 2018 at 7:51 am

Thank you for the helpful post! It’s nice to have a concrete idea of what the agent is looking for before sending out the book proposal.

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April 11, 2019 at 12:48 pm

This is wonderfully informative. Thank you!

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June 10, 2019 at 5:47 pm

In looking at the guidelines for a proposal, it lists a number of things for non-fiction, compares fiction and adds a few additional notes. My question is, in non-fiction it asks for a half page to one page overview. If all of the additional topics are addressed for fiction it seems to cover a lot of what is described in the overview. Do you want a half page to one page overview for a fiction proposal as well?

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June 13, 2022 at 6:54 am

Steve, Thank you for this terrific perennial post! The patient answers to the many questions demonstrate your passion for supporting writers. Thank you for taking the time to instill such great knowledge. It is much appreciated by this new author.

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June 13, 2022 at 8:10 am

Thanks so much, Steve! These posts with examples for how to do the basics are always so helpful. I look back on them whenever I work on my proposals. Such a great resource!

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June 13, 2022 at 1:26 pm

Steve, I’ve published numerous articles and love my work as an editor of books and articles and author and editor of academic research. If I submit everything you described in this great article correctly and well, and my contemporary and historical women’s fiction books have been alpha and beta reviewed with strong support and appropriately edited, but I have virtually no platform (only 1046 Followers on my website), is there realistically any point in submitting a proposal to an agent before I build a larger platform? Thanks to reading Writer’s Guide and this column for many years, I think I’ve mastered and actually enjoy the submission process you described, but I keep running into the platform roadblock. If there is no platform of thousands to cite in the proposal, is it likely to generate an offer to represent or publish? Thanks!

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August 2, 2022 at 9:59 am

Okay, so I got to eat a little crow here(which isn’t bad if you put a little A-1 on it), I didn’t read the submission instructions properly and submitted my information, and a portion of my book totally wrong. I have since gone back and read as I should have done in the first place. Now I will PROPERLY submit my work as it should be. I hope this didn’t cause too much of a headache for you and your staff and please forgive my anxious foolishness. I do have a couple of questions: 1. Do I have to wait a certain amount of time before I can re-submit my work? 2. The manuscript is being edited, should I wait until the edit is complete before I resubmit it?

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How to Write a Cover Letter to a Publisher

  • Advice for Writers , Publishing Your Book

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Writing a Great Cover Letter Is Key to Publishing Your Manuscript

Are you ready to embark on a thrilling adventure into the world of publishing? Whether you’re a seasoned wordsmith or a budding author, an attractive publishing cover letter is the golden ticket to capturing a publisher’s attention and getting your book on shelves. Though writing a cover letter can be a daunting task, fear not! We’re here to help unravel the mysteries of how to write an engaging, effective cover letter to a publisher.

Once you’ve got yours together, you can submit your cover letter and manuscript to our team here at Atmosphere Press!

A Thoughtful Opening

First, let’s talk about the basics: the salutation. It may be tempting to take the easy road and slap on a standard “To Whom It May Concern,” but this is a chance to personalize the letter and show the publisher you’ve done your homework. Avoid generic greetings that scream “copy and paste,” and instead do some research and address your cover letter to a specific person (usually the acquisitions editor of the publishing house). This will make your letter stand out like a phoenix rising from the ashes!

Generic: To Whom It May Concern, Personalized: Dear [Acquisitions Editor’s Name], Example: Dear Ms. Smith,

A Quick Hook

Next, your cover letter should include your name and a brief introduction to yourself and your work. Hook the reader and dazzle them with your passion. Share why you’re interested in their publishing house and why your manuscript is a perfect fit. Be genuine and let your enthusiasm shine through. Remember, you’re not writing a résumé—you’re crafting a tale to bewitch the publisher. It’s important to keep it concise, as publishers receive countless submissions and don’t have time to read lengthy letters, no matter how engaging they may be.

Introduction: My name is [Your Name], and I am thrilled to submit my manuscript for your consideration. Example: My name is John Doe, and I am an avid fantasy writer excited to share my latest work with Atmosphere Press.

Pitch Your Book!

Now it’s time to weave your writing spells and cast a spellbinding synopsis of your manuscript. Keep it brief but punchy. Highlight the unique and captivating aspects of your story. Avoid spoilers and focus on the plot, characters, and setting. Use descriptive language that paints a vivid picture in the publisher’s mind and leaves them hungering for more.

Then let the publisher know why your manuscript will be a bestseller—cast a confidence charm! Share your target audience, market research, and any promotion ideas you have in mind. Show them you’re not just a one-hit wonder, but a writer who’s willing to put in the effort to make your book a success. Be bold, but not boastful, and let the publisher know you’re ready to rock the literary world with your words.

Blurb: My manuscript is a thrilling tale of adventure set in a world where magic reigns supreme. Example: My manuscript, The Chronicles of Eldoria , follows the journey of a young mage who must unravel the mysteries of an ancient prophecy to save her kingdom from darkness.

After pitching your book, let the publisher know what makes you the chosen one to pen this tale. Share your writing credentials, awards, and any relevant publishing credits. Don’t worry if you’re a rookie writer without a long list of accolades; you can still work magic by sharing your writing style, your love for the genre, and your unique perspective as an author.

Awards: I have received several awards for my short stories and poetry. Example: I am the winner of the 2023 Fantasy Writers Guild Short Story Contest.

A Strong Closing Statement

Finally, the closing flourish: end your publishing cover letter with a gracious goodbye. Thank the publisher for their time and consideration and express your sincere interest in their feedback or the opportunity to submit your manuscript for review. Avoid begging or pleading and maintain a professional tone. Leave them with a warm and positive impression, and they’ll be eager to take the next step on the publishing journey with you.

And there you have it—a guide to crafting a cover letter that will charm the socks off of any publisher. Remember, a well-written cover letter is the key to unlocking doors of opportunity in the publishing world. So, channel your inner wordsmith, sprinkle some humor and creativity, and let your cover letter work its magic! With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to enchanting your would-be publisher and getting your work published.

Gratitude: Thank you for considering my submission. I look forward to hearing from you. Example: Thank you for your time and consideration. I am eager to discuss how The Chronicles of Eldoria could find a home with Atmosphere Press.

Some bonus tips to make your cover letter even more enchanting:

— Avoid using clichés or overused phrases. Be original and let your unique voice shine through.

— Keep it professional. While humor and creativity are encouraged, make sure your cover letter maintains a professional tone and is free from any inappropriate language or jokes.

— Customize each cover letter! Avoid using a generic template and tailor your letter to the publisher you’re submitting to. Research their publishing house, submission guidelines, and recent publications to show that you’ve done your homework.

— Follow submission guidelines. Publishers often have specific guidelines for submitting cover letters and manuscripts; follow these meticulously to show that you’re a professional and detail-oriented writer.

— Proofread, proofread, proofread! Don’t let any sneaky typos or errors break the spell. Double-check your grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and consider asking a trusted friend or fellow writer to review your cover letter as well.

Further, there are plenty of online resources available to help you in writing a cover letter!

Writer’s Digest and The Write Life offer numerous articles, guides, and webinars on various aspects of the publishing process, including crafting effective cover letters.

You could also check out Query Shark , where literary agent Janet Reid critiques real query letters and provides insights into what works and what doesn’t in submissions to agents and publishers, or peruse Manuscript Wish List , a database where literary agents and publishers share their specific manuscript preferences. Writers can browse through the listings to get a sense of what publishers are looking for and tailor their cover letters accordingly.

Still Need Help Writing a Cover Letter?

Strange as it sounds, sometimes writing an effective publishing cover letter is one of the most difficult steps for even the most accomplished writers. What’s more, it’s just one step within the publishing process, alongside choosing the best publisher, ensuring your book is polished, and identifying the best target markets and audience for your book.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, our expert publication team at Atmosphere Press offers free publication consultations to help budding authors take the next step. Schedule yours today !

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how to write a cover letter for a book

The first thing publishers see when they open your submission package is the covering letter. It doesn’t matter how good your synopsis and sample chapters are, if this vital document fails to impress an editor or agent, then your submission will be rejected. So to ensure you make an excellent first impression, follow the advice of the experts

The first thing publishers see when they open your submission package is the covering letter. It doesn’t matter how good your synopsis and sample chapters are, if this vital document fails to impress an editor or agent, then your submission will be rejected. So to ensure you make an excellent first impression, follow the advice of the experts...

Find the right publisher for your manuscript

Before you start writing your covering letter, you need to find the right publisher for your manuscript. If your book is a non-fiction guide to growing your own vegetables, you need to find a publisher who produces non-fiction gardening books. Sending it to a publisher who specialises in short story romances will result in instant rejection. It is also essential that you check their submission guidelines and follow them precisely. They may specify how long the covering letter should be or what you should include.

What to include in your covering letter

Summersdale Publisher Stewart Ferris

Show off your strengths

Julia McCutchen

The Writer’s Journey: From Inspiration to Publication demystifies the world of publishing and outlines the steps non-fiction writers need to take to present their work to agents and publishers professionally and with confidence.

For non-fiction covering letters, include:

• Compelling Key Sentence • what makes your book different • who it is for • your passion for writing it • your credibility as the author • a mention of your platform/key sales, marketing or promotional opportunities

For fiction covering letters, include:

• Compelling Key Sentence(s) • key themes/features of your story • genre • length • why you wrote the book • something about you/background • life experience • your influences as a writer, writing career • how you see the book in terms of the market ie who for, is it first in a series etc.

Points to remember when writing your covering letter

• Get the name of the publisher/editor right • State where you found their details and why you are approaching them • Tell the publisher about your book • Give your blurb or Compelling Key Sentence • Tell the publisher about yourself • End on a positive note

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We have lots of excellent courses for writers of all levels. Take a look at our complete course list here.

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how to write a cover letter for a book

The Fundamentals Of A Cover Letter For Poems, Stories, And Personal Essays

by Writer's Relief Staff | Cover Letters | 5 comments

Review Board is now open! Submit your Short Prose, Poetry, and Book today!

Deadline: thursday, april 18th.

Cover Letter

When you’re ready to submit your poems, short stories, or essays to literary journals for publication, you’ll need a cover letter.

Unlike the more complicated  query letter  you would send to a literary agent for a book project, a cover letter to a literary magazine contains only basic information about your writing submission and your author bio. It is not a sales pitch or a flashy bid for attention. Your cover letter should be professional, no more than one page, and show a knowledge of publishing industry etiquette.

Here are the essential parts of a cover letter:

1. Salutation. Whenever possible, use the editor’s full name. “Dear Sue Smith.” Never assume gender! “Pat” can be a “Patrick” or a “Patricia.” Read more: Savvy Salutations .

2. Introduction. State your intention clearly and include the title(s) of the work(s) you’re submitting: Please consider my poems, “Gray” and “To the Orioles,” for publication in Journal Name .

3. Don’t describe your submission. Don’t summarize your story or explain the themes in your poems. Trust us—it’s bad publishing industry etiquette. Editors may find it insulting if you presume that they can’t understand your work and need to have it explained to them. Plus, editors at literary journals pride themselves on how carefully they consider each submission. If you write a “teaser” into your cover letter, it will seem as if you suspect editors need to be tempted to do their jobs.

Submit to Review Board

4. Your author bio . Include a short bio that lists your writing credits. You may want to add some selective information about your personal interests as well, especially if the details reflect on your writing (but avoid  TMI ). If you want to publish under a pen name, note that here. Read more: Pseudonyms: Using A Pen Name In A Cover Or Query Letters To Agents Or Editors .

5. The closing. Be sure to sincerely thank the editor for his or her time.

6. Your signature (your real name).

7. Contact info.  Since most submissions are now made electronically, the best place to include your contact information (mailing address, phone number, email address, and author website ) is below your signature.

If you’re printing your cover letter to send a submission via standard postal service, then the letterhead and contact information should be at the top. And while your letterhead is the one place in your cover letter where you can show some individuality, be sure to choose a font that is clean and easy to read. You can tweak standard templates to reflect your personal taste—but avoid using images or too many colors.

And that’s it! You’re ready to send your cover letter and writing submission out to literary journals. To learn more about how to write an effective cover letter, check out our Most Popular Articles for cover and query letter writing .

how to write a cover letter for a book

Very helpful…thank you


Have you got an example of a good cover letter that I could see?

Blog Editor

Hi Leander,

If you follow the steps outlined in the article, you will have an effective cover letter.

Susoumi Banerjee

This was duly described and easy to understand. Very helpful.

Frederick White

Failure to read the directions is the biggest error you might make at this crucial step of the publication process. The instructions can often be found on a publication’s main submissions page on their website or on their Submittable page. Before entering your information and uploading your document, read it once (or twice), then once more before clicking the “Send” button.

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how to write a cover letter for a book

When You Write

How to Write a Perfect Cover Letter for a Short Story Submission

Editors see mounds of bad cover letters. A lot of new writers submit short stories with little or no guidance and end up submitting cover letters that are either overenthusiastic or lacking the necessary information.

What you must know is that cover letters for different genres follow different sets of rules and etiquette. For example, an editor doesn’t expect you to write a cover letter for short fiction in the same format you would craft a query letter for a novel submission.

A cover letter is not a platform for you to brag about yourself or your writing accolades. There’s nothing that annoys an editor more than a cocky newbie.

Your cover letter is, most often than not, the first thing an editor sees and you have to be on point to create a strong first impression. Some editors that I have interacted with said that they read the cover letter after reading your short stories, and they admit that some cover letters convince them to go back to the story and reevaluate it.

Luckily for you, I have compiled tips on just how to go about crafting a good cover letter that can make a ‘strong first impression’ and influence the editor’s aftertaste after savoring your stories.

Research and… Research

In all the posts that I have made on cover letters, I have emphasized the importance of finding out the publisher’s/organizer’s guidelines.

Every organizer/publisher has a specific set of rules for short story cover letters, and knowledge and application of these guidelines raises the chances of your submission getting accepted.

You should research the publisher’s inclinations. Some publishers, or should I say most, won’t accept adult stories. They may not disclose these attitudes in their Ts and Cs, but an exploratory look at their published works can reveal what kind of genre they love to publish.

Tips on Creating a Perfect Cover Letter for a Short Story Submission

A good cover letter for a short story submission should be:

Short and Simple

Cover letters for short fiction always have to have the conciseness element. It should be short and simple but compelling enough; it has to signal to the editor that you’re at least a refined writer.

Courteous and Direct

It is unprofessional to send a cover letter that is copied and pasted from previous submissions. The cover letter should address the editor or publishers and must contain information relevant to that particular submission.


Although a good cover letter is supposed to be courteous, it doesn’t have to get too personal. The editor doesn’t really care if you know their name (although it’s okay to address them by their name if they suggested so), but the contents of the cover letter must remain professional.

How to Address a Cover Letter

It is advisable to leave niceties and go straight to business. I have read a couple of blogs by real editors, and they all agree on one thing: go straight to business.

If you’re going to make multiple submissions to different recipients, you have to make sure you don’t put too much effort into ‘playing the nice newbie’ and just focus on making the cover letter a contextually right letter.

What should be in a cover letter?

I didn’t want to ramble on about something I didn’t know anything about, so I decided to give you a list of things that Neil Clarke (a real-life editor from Clarkesworld Magazine) wants to see in your cover letter for short stories:

  • State whether you are previously published or not.
  • If you’re submitting work that you did not author (maybe you’re the author’s agent or something), you have to state it in the cover letter. You have to explain the working arrangement with the author or if you’re translating.
  • And if you state that you are submitting a translation, you should say whether the story was originally published and where, in what language, and whether the original author or whoever holds the rights on the original has given you the permission to translate and publish.
  • If you are submitting a reprint, the cover letter should state this and any restrictions placed on the reprint.
  • If your short story doesn’t fit in one of the categories that the publisher has listed, the cover letter must explain what type of genre it is.

The cover letter also needs to contain a short bio, the story’s word count, title, and a brief description of the short story (not summary), among other things.

Publishers and editors have unique preferences, so you’ll find what ‘unique’ things they want in your cover letter.

Don’t Put These in Your Cover Letter

Going back to Neil Clarke’s preferences (most of which are shared by most editors), these things shouldn’t be in a cover letter:

  • Bank or PayPal details.
  • Mailing address or phone number (This might not be the case for all editors/publishers). In Clarke’s case, the mailing addressing should be on the first page of the story.
  • A summary of your short story.

But I said in the previous section, every editor and publisher has their own preferences.

Don’t Say These in Your Short Story Cover letter

Cover letters rarely influence editors’ opinions of a story, but some things can annoy an editor. Although they’re likely not going to reject the story because of some ‘little things’ in your short story’s cover letter, it’s wise to stay on the safe side.

Confidence is good, but you don’t have to be arrogant. For instance, you don’t have to say “I’m the modern-day Charles Dickens.”

And… you know it’s so ‘amateur hour’ when you say, “This is the best story you’ll ever read.” Trust me, it’s not. Editors have read thousands of stories and it’s better to let them ‘choose’ which is the best they’ve ever read.

Even though it’s bad to sound cocky in your cover letter, it’s equally damning to show low self-esteem. So, in your cover letter, you have to avoid writing things like ‘how desperate you’re’ or ‘how many times your story has been rejected.’ Those won’t help your case at all!

Formats and Submission Guidelines

If you haven’t found this out already, some publications put so much emphasis on the format of short story submissions. Some publications will give you specifications for font size, line spacing, margins, etcetera. It’s either you format everything the way they tell you to, or it’s an instant REJECTION for you!

However, some publications don’t go that far, but most of them let you know that If you don’t follow their pocket-size guidelines, you might as well just keep your story to yourself.

Outside the typing window, there are other formatting issues that you have to be aware of. Things like file type (e.g., PDF, RTF, Word Doc, etcetera.) and the means of submitting (e.g., email, or through the publication’s website). A few old guards still require writers to submit stories in print—yes, inconveniently, through the postal service.

The submission guidelines may extend to the manner of attaching documents (and the number of those attachments). Hopefully, the publications you’re submitting to allow you to submit attachments (which is the most likely nowadays).

Sample Cover Letter for a Short Story Submission

There are more than a thousand ways you can write your cover letter for a short story submission. In case you don’t have the littlest idea of how to go about it, I have written a very brief cover letter.

Note : This is a sample and cannot be used as a blueprint for any short fiction submission. Well, you could use it if you think it’s okay; I mean, it’s not bad.

Dear Maggie (if you don’t know their name, just put their professional title like Editor), Please consider this 2000-word story, “Dying Good,” for publication in the Sun Dance Magazine . I believe this short fiction piece is exactly the type of story that the Sun Dance typically publishes. “Dying Good” is a tale of betrayal, anger, and—ultimately—redemption. It follows a man on his journey from the gallows of degeneracy to salvation. Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely, Ed Halfords.

This cover letter is exactly 67 words (without that bracketed explanation) and even if you were to add some details, which is a likely thing, it wouldn’t be anywhere near 150 words. In such a short piece, you can put all the required information and still avoid taking much of the editor’s time.

Final Words on Cover Letters for a Short Story Submission

You shouldn’t have to worry about writing an out-of-this-world cover letter when submitting your short story. That will only make the process seem like a very challenging task—but, in all honesty, it isn’t. I believe that I covered all the ‘life-saving’ tips that you can use to make your story submission a seamless task.

I’m not an editor (well, not by profession), but I did my research and contacted some ‘editor friends’ of mine before I got down to write this post.

As long as you do your research, keep your cover letters for short stories short, and always stick to the point, omit anything else, your short story is ready for submission!

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How to Write a Stand-Out Cover Letter

  • How to Write a Stand-Out…

How to write a cover letter guide – BPA Blog


Literary agents and many literary competitions require a cover letter along with your sample chapters and synopsis. This is a formal introduction to you and your novel. Note: It is not a CV, a bio or a blurb for the book. It’s a letter, written from one professional to another, that should make the agent or judge want to read more. The biggest mistake entrants to the BPA First Novel Award made this year was getting the balance off, either writing too much about the novel or too much about themselves – some poor novels didn’t get a mention. There’s a rough template most agents and competition judges will look for, and it’s pretty doable! Let’s give it a go.


First, tell us about the novel. That’s what you’re trying to sell! You want the agent to finish the cover letter with such curiosity about the book that they’re hungry for the sample chapters. 

The first paragraph will usually reveal the title , the genre , the word count of the completed manuscript (If you don’t include this, they might worry you haven’t finished it!) and something that offers a taste of the novel, like a mention of the themes you’re going to explore.

Be specific when stating the genre – if it’s general fiction, think about whether the market is commercial, book club, upmarket or literary. If it’s YA, don’t just say it’s YA – is it a YA romance? YA dystopia? Who’s out there writing YA crime? The literary agent will be familiar with all the terms, so the more specific you are, the easier it will be to picture an audience for the book.

Once you’ve provided these core facts, write an elevator pitch . This is a single sentence that conveys your novel’s hook or USP. For inspiration, check out the Sunday Times Bestsellers List:

  • Richard Osman’s  The Thursday Murder Club : Four friends in a retirement village team up to solve a mystery on their doorstep.
  • Paula Hawkins’  The Girl on the Train : A commuter’s fascination with a married couple she passes every day turns deadly.

It’s a good idea to follow this up with a one-paragraph description of the novel. Unlike the synopsis, it doesn’t need to tell the entire story, but it should be just more than the premise. Tell us who the protagonist is, what happens to upset the balance of their life, and what their goal is (presumably to restore said life balance!). If you can do that in a couple of sentences, you might also mention one of the novel’s core turning points.

Cover letters should describe the novel first, then the writer, then remind us of the novel at the end. In a short final paragraph, say what inspired you to write the book and offer some comparable titles . (Check out agent Nelle Andrew’s advice on comparable titles .)

The letter should be targeted towards the literary agent or competition judge you’re writing to. Some writers choose to open with this and others incorporate it into the later paragraphs. The best way to make a connection and show you’ve done your research is to mention an author on the agent’s list who has a relevant readership. You could also explain why you think your novel aligns with what they describe in their wish list.


It’s the writing, not the writer, that’s important … but the agent or judge does want to know about you too. They especially want to know why you were the one person who could write this book . And it’s true – no one else could write the book you’ve written. So tell us why. Did your job as a psychiatrist inspire the analysis of your antagonist’s motivation? Do you live in the idyllic town where the book is set? Have you studied the era of your historical novel? Share relevant details about yourself. 

The agent or judge also wants evidence that you are a writer. You’re not just someone who thinks they have a novel in them; you take your craft seriously. If you can, share what magazines your short fiction has been published in, the competitions you’ve been listed in or the creative writing courses you’ve completed. If you don’t have that kind of experience, share anything that tells us you’re serious. Join a writer’s workshop group and tell us about that. Attend an online masterclass (like the ones BPA runs ) and mention that. Experiment with writing in different forms and tell us about it. S hare which contemporary authors have inspired you, so it’s clear that you’re well read. Just don’t put, ‘This is my first attempt at writing fiction,’ and leave it at that. It doesn’t inspire confidence.

A cover letter should be professional, like the cover letter you would send with a job application, but you also want it to have some personality. And given you’re basically applying for the role of ‘novelist’, it needs to be well written.

So, keep it formal, make sure it’s eloquent, and try to get some flow into it. When you read it aloud, it should sound natural. If it doesn’t, it might be that you haven’t varied sentence length, that you’ve used rigid language, or simply that you’re trying too hard. As formal as a cover letter should be, you want your enthusiasm for this novel you’ve spent so long writing to imbue the lines. 


  • Formatting it like a CV or splitting it into sections titled ‘Bio’ and ‘Novel Summary’.
  • Sharing irrelevant detail about your personal life. 
  • Making it too short – 200-350 words is a good guideline.
  • Or too long – unfortunately, nobody’s going to read a cover letter past the first page!
  • Writing a vague description of the story e.g. ‘When a mysterious event happens, a woman will have to look to the past to uncover the truth.’
  • Including long-winded explanations of why there’s a huge market for your book.
  • Coming across as arrogant … or lacking in confidence.
  • Sharing more about the novel’s message than its story.


Once you’ve finished a manuscript, the instinct is to get it on submission as soon as possible, but it’s worth taking the time to give an accurate and exciting representation of the work . Literary agents receive many submissions a day and have to fit reading time in with a huge workload. You need to grab them in the cover letter so that they’re already thinking of you as a potential client when they read the sample.

Out of everything you could have written on the blank pages of a document titled Novel , you’ve carefully chosen each word of this story that has to be told. You know people will love it and you hopefully have a sense of who and why . Get that across to the agent or competition reader, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll request the full manuscript.

For personalised feedback on your cover letter, you might want to consider a BPA Submission Package Report – enquire here .

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The Proven Method Of Writing Short Story Cover Letters

Welcome to this guide on how to write a cover letter for a short story, as well as for pieces for magazines, journals, publishers and presses , complete with examples that have been proven to work in the past. 

The task of writing a cover letter can sometimes feel tougher than writing the actual story. Luckily, guidance is plentiful and having studied that guidance, I’ve put together a quick guide complete with examples.

At this early stage, it’s important to highlight that cover letters differ depending on whether it’s a short story, or a longer piece, such as a novel—submission requirements are more substantial for the latter.

For short stories, the best guidance I’ve encountered comes from Alex Shvartsman, well-respected editor and writer of sci-fi and fantasy. Check out his guidance in full here

how to write a cover letter for a short story

How To Write A Cover Letter For A Short Story

Here are some of the highlights:

  • If you know the name of the editor, address the cover letter to them. For instance, ‘Dear Mr Gamgee’. If in doubt, just use ‘Dear Editors’.
  • Keep it simple. The editor is about to read your story, you don’t need to tell them the ins and outs of character and plot. Let them discover it themselves. And if you explain it badly, you may put them off reading it altogether.
  • If it’s not relevant, don’t include it. If you’ve got a law degree, nice work, but what has it got to do with the story? If your story is a legal drama, then that’s a different matter.
  • List some of your most notable publishing accomplishments. If you don’t have any, that’s fine! As Shvartsman says: “Every editor I know loves discovering new talent and loves being the first to publish someone, or first to publish someone in a pro venue. No one is going to hold a lack of past credits against you.”

A Proven Example Of How To Write A Cover Letter For A Short Story

So, the examples. This is a cover letter I used for a short story called Noodlin ’, published by Kzine in May 2019.


Richie Billing

12 Hobbiton Lane, The Shire, Middle Earth

T: 07458228888

E: [email protected]

W: https://richiebilling.com/

Dear Editors,

I attach for your consideration ‘Noodlin”, a fantasy story around 2,800 words in length.

My short fiction has featured in Aphelion Webzine, Alien Pub Magazine and Far Horizons, and non-fiction in Authors Publish Magazine.

I appreciate you taking the time to consider my submission.

All the very best,

If, for instance, I was sending this story to a few publishers (AKA a simultaneous submission), it’s wise to tell them you’re doing so. An example may look something like this:

I have submitted this story to other publishers. Should it be accepted elsewhere I will, of course, inform you without delay.

For the avoidance of doubt, the text should not be bold. I’ve merely done so for easier reference.

The address and other details are very much optional provided you include them all on the first page of your manuscript. A true letter would feature this information in such a style, or it could be justified to the right of the page. However, in this modern age your submission email usually comprises the cover letter and with that the format’s a bit different. With emails, I usually put all this info at the very end, after my signature.

How To Write A Cover Letter For A Novel

So that’s the practice for short stories, what about novels?

Publishers may ask for a short summary of the novel in the cover letter. How short depends on the publisher—they may ask for detail, they may ask for a mere sentence.

A standard accompaniment to the cover letter is a synopsis—what your story is about , i.e. the premise, the point of it; the characters, their emotional journey and the conflicts they face; the intended market, and; where it aligns in that market, for instance, comparing it to Lord of the Rings. The length is generally limited by publishers to one page. Invest a good amount of time in your synopsis. Make every word count. Read it aloud. Refine it until you can’t say it any better. The synopsis helps an editor form their impression of your story so try and make the best one you can .

More Help On Writing Cover Letters and Getting Published

For more help and guidance on how to write a cover letter, I’ve included links to some guides you may find useful below:

  • List of fantasy publishers
  • List of fantasy magazines and journals
  • List of book reviewers
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Convincing Cover Letter for Publishing Industry: Sample + Tips

Elena Prokopets

Are you that person whose nose is always deep into some new title? Do most types of printed periodicals appear oddly fascinating to you? Well, then you are probably well-suited for a career in the publishing industry. 

Despite our collective obsession with digital — and the ubiquity of bite-sized blog posts — a real book still remains an in-demand product too. Last year, the US book industry generated over $26.5 billion in revenue with print book figures improving. And that means that many publishers are once again on a hiring spree.

To land a job with some cool publisher, you gotta have a polished resume. But more importantly, you need to submit a compelling cover letter too. After all, it’s your best way to show your word mastery. 

But even experienced editors often struggle to come up with the right words to frame their achievements. So we’ve created this sample cover letter for publishing jobs as a writing prompt for you. Scroll to the bottom for some extra tips too! 

Publishing Jobs Cover Letter Sample (Word version)

Here’s a sample cover letter for an experienced romance novels editor, looking to work with a national publisher. 

cover letter sample for a publishing job

Download cover letter example (.docx)

Cover Letter Example for Publishing Industry (text version)

Dear Mariam Smith,

Do you know how I recognize a potential best-seller? If the first ten pages leave me thoroughly hooked, it’s a strong contender.  My cover letter for an open position of Romance Novel Editor with Clarks and Spencer Publishing isn’t a real pageturner, but it hopefully will provide an interesting narrative into my professional experience and abilities that can be of use to your company.

My journey towards the publishing industry began when I was 6. That’s when I wrote a short love story about a princess and an ice cream delivery man (non-trivial theme, I know). Then I tried to persuade my parents to let me print several copies to give away to my friends. But my mom said that book publishing isn’t free, so I do need to finish several chores first if I want my novel to see the light of day. Since then, I’ve learned a lot more about the publishing industry during my 5 years as an Associate Essay Editor with Angies’ Publishing House and as Romance Features Editor at Wedding Magazine. 

Additionally, I provide manuscript editing services as a freelancer to self-published romance authors, specializing in period dramas — a genre where Clarks and Spencer Publishing certainly excels. Joanne Monroe and Andy McKinzey are two of my long-term favorite authors, whose your house published. 

Apart from having strong copyediting skills, I’m also experienced with the operational side of the business. I can provide creative direction and vision for book illustrations, liaise with authors and agents, and otherwise facilitate the titles acquisition process. 

For previous samples of my work and references, please check my personal website kaylaeditorialservices.com. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. 

Kayla Devis 

How To Write A Cover Letter for Publishing Industry Jobs

Since you are in the business of words, your cover letter should be coherent, well-narrated, and a bit artistically articulate. After all, you’d like to advertise your personal writing skills too and there’s no better way to do that than in a cover letter.

Still, your cover letter should respect the “unspoken” code — provide background into your work experience, core competencies, and motivation for joining this particular company. To communicate all of the above within one page, follow these actionable tips. 

1. Explain Your “Why”

Why are you so interested in the publishing industry? Why do you want to work for our company? These are the questions nearly every employer in the industry asks. And they want to see answers to them in your cover letter. 

As Carolyn Zimatore, Director, Talent Management at HarperCollins Publishers puts it : 

“I am not sure which is worse: a generic cover letter that says “I would like the open position at your company” without any mention of what the company is or what the job is or why you want the job, or no cover letter at all.”

So before you put any words down, take a five and research the company . Look into the type of genres they are mostly publishing. Check recent authors. Bring up industry awards. There are a lot of small nuggets you can dig up to make your letter sound as if you intimately know their business. 

2. Use Some Storytelling 

Most people join the publishing industry because they are obsessed with great stories. Show your appreciation of a good narrative by weaving in a quick personal story into your letter like the applicant does in the letter above. Just remember to err on the side of brevity. A cover letter isn’t a novel. So keep your story short and sweet as the author does in the sample above. 

3. Advertise Some Extra Skills 

If you want to work in the publishing industry, you need to have exceptional writing and editorial skills. But that’s what every other job applicant will highlight too. So instead of focusing on just that, bring up some of the “extras” you have. Are you an amazing negotiator and can get the needle moving with agents? Are you a maven when it comes to writing jacket copy and sales notes? Do you also happen to be obsessed with numbers and can do baseline sales projections, price research, and other analytical tasks? Bring all of these complementary skills in your cover letter!

Here are several other in-demand skills for editorial jobs in the publishing industry:

  • Publishing process coordination 
  • Author relationship management 
  • Typography and illustration 
  • Market research 
  • Deal management 
  • Payment records management 
  • P&L management 
  • Backlist project coordination 

Final Thoughts

Landing a job in the publishing industry is a dream for many bookworms. But don’t let this be just a dream — take proactive steps to get your foot in the door. Sure, such jobs are competitive, but with a little bit of persistence and the right attitude, you’d be able to break into it!

Elena Prokopets

Elena runs content operations at Freesumes since 2017. She works closely with copywriters, designers, and invited career experts to ensure that all content meets our highest editorial standards. Up to date, she wrote over 200 career-related pieces around resume writing, career advice... more

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12 Writer Cover Letter Examples

Writers excel at weaving words into captivating stories, painting vivid pictures with their prose, and engaging readers with their narrative. Similarly, your cover letter is your chance to craft a compelling narrative about your professional journey, using your words to captivate recruiters and paint a vivid picture of your skills and experiences. In this guide, we'll explore outstanding Writer cover letter examples to help you pen your own captivating professional story.

how to write a cover letter for a book

Cover Letter Examples

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The best way to start a Writer cover letter is with a compelling hook that grabs the reader's attention. This could be a brief anecdote about a writing achievement, a unique perspective you bring to your work, or a notable publication where your work has been featured. Follow this with a clear statement of your intent, such as the specific role you're applying for. Remember to address the letter to the appropriate person, if their name is available. This personalized and engaging approach will help you stand out from other applicants.

Writers should end a cover letter by summarizing their interest in the position and expressing gratitude for the reader's time. They should reiterate their unique skills or experiences that make them a good fit for the role. It's also important to include a call to action, such as a request for an interview or a meeting. The closing should be professional and polite. Here's an example: "I am excited about the opportunity to bring my unique storytelling skills to your team and I am confident that I can contribute to your editorial goals. Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to the possibility of discussing this opportunity with you further." Finally, they should sign off with a professional closing like "Sincerely" or "Best regards," followed by their full name.

A writer's cover letter should ideally be one page long. This is because the purpose of a cover letter is to provide a brief introduction of yourself and to explain the reasons for your interest in the specific position or organization. It's important to be concise and to the point, while effectively communicating your skills, experiences, and why you would be a good fit for the role. A one-page cover letter is usually sufficient to achieve this. If it's too long, there's a risk that the hiring manager might not read the entire letter, and if it's too short, it might not provide enough information about your qualifications.

Writing a cover letter with no experience as a writer can seem daunting, but it's important to remember that everyone starts somewhere. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to approach it: 1. Start with a strong introduction: Begin your cover letter by introducing yourself and stating the position you're applying for. Make sure to grab the reader's attention with your enthusiasm for the role and the company. 2. Highlight your relevant skills: Even if you don't have direct writing experience, you likely have other skills that are relevant. Perhaps you have strong research skills, creativity, or a knack for storytelling. Maybe you've written blog posts, social media content, or academic papers. All of these can be valuable in a writing role, so be sure to highlight them. 3. Showcase your knowledge about the company: Show that you've done your homework about the company and the industry. This can demonstrate your interest and your initiative, both of which are attractive qualities in a potential hire. 4. Discuss your education: If you've taken any writing-related courses or earned a degree in a related field (like English, journalism, or communications), be sure to mention it. Even if your education isn't directly related, discuss how it's helped you develop valuable skills. 5. Provide examples: Use specific examples to demonstrate your skills. For instance, if you're applying for a content writing role, you might discuss a time when you wrote a well-received research paper or a blog post. 6. Show your passion: Passion can often make up for a lack of experience. If you're passionate about writing, make sure that comes across in your cover letter. 7. Close with a strong conclusion: Wrap up your cover letter by reiterating your interest in the role and your eagerness to contribute to the company. Thank the reader for considering your application and express your hope for further discussion. 8. Proofread: This is especially important for a writing role. Make sure your cover letter is free of typos and grammatical errors. Remember, everyone has to start somewhere. Even if you don't have professional writing experience, your unique skills and perspectives can still make you a strong candidate. Good luck!

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Picture Book Submissions – The Great Cover Letter

how to write a cover letter for a book

You might be asking what you actually submit to a publisher when you submit a picture book manuscript. I submit three items. This may be debatable, and many of you may submit items differently. I’d love to hear what the rest of you submit, but I’m going to share with you what I learned at one of my first conferences and therefore, what I submit. I’d especially love to hear from you if you’re an editor and like to receive submissions in a different manner. Please comment below.

The three items I submit are a cover letter, proposal and formatted manuscript. We’ll cover each item in separate blogs.

Today we’ll talk about the killer, knock the socks of an editor cover letter. If a publisher requests query letters first, before full submission of the manuscript, then this will be your query letter. The Market Guides relay which method the publishers prefer. Send in what they prefer. Don’t stuff your whole proposal into an envelope if the publisher prefers queries initially.

A query letter is a single letter asking for permission to submit your full proposal.  A cover letter accompanies your proposal and briefly describes your proposal. Both may be the only item an editor reads, unless it’s good. This letter should do more than pique an editor’s interest. It should reflect your great writing skills and make them want to keep reading and ask for more. Both letters serve the same purposes of highlighting your book and making it something an editor will want to pursue.

It’s nice to start with a name of an editor as opposed to Dear Editor. If you can find the name of the editor, by all means, use it. If you have met the editor at a conference, make that the first item mentioned.

“It was a pleasure meeting you at the XXX conference on (state the date). I enjoyed dining with you that evening and discussing possible book titles with you, (or whatever you discussed to bring who you are to their mind). I have a manuscript I thought you might be interested in reading.”

Then start with a bang, a hook, a question, something to tap an editor’s interest and touch on the main idea of your book. If your book is about a girl who loves purses and can’t get enough, you might start with something like this:

What’s not to love about purses? What if you had one in every shape and size to match every pair of shoes you owned but didn’t have room enough to put them all? What would you do? I’ve written a story about a girl who can’t get enough purses…

I know you could make it stronger. Spend time on your hook. Make it playful, fun, interesting.

State the audience for whom you wrote it and get as specific as possible. Elementary age children is a bit general. Tell which age group and if there’s a specific market, highlight it here. Say for example, it’s a book for children having surgery, or a bed time story for preschool children, or for young girls 4-6 who love purses. Tell specifics, but not too specific to make your market too small.

Briefly state any special ideas in your book that will make yours stand out. Have you included an easy how-to-make-your-own purse template or an easy how to stack and store your purses chart? Mention this here.

Note the word count, projected page count, and a brief bio about yourself, especially if it would help shine on why you’re the right one to write that particular book. I wrote a book once for children to ease the stress and fear of surgery and mentioned that I’m a Nurse Anesthetist. It relayed the fact that I’m a professional and might know a little about the topic. (I still don’t have a contract on the book, but hopefully it’s not because I’m not qualified to write it…)

Mention why you think this is the perfect publisher for your book, why you chose them. Why you think your book might complement other books they’ve published. If you’re sending it to more than one publisher, mention that it is a simultaneous submission.

Keep your cover/query letter one page or less. Keep your writing tight. This is not a letter to your best friend, so keep it short, simple, to the point, but enticing.

End with something like, Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Sincerely, XXX and sign it.

Before you send it, make it perfect. This letter reflects your writing skills. Don’t let them find grammatical errors, typos, wrong use of commas, etc. or they may not pursue your book further, even if the idea sounds great. Spend time on your query/cover letter and make it shine.

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How to Write a Cover Letter [Full Guide & Examples for 2024]

Background Image

After weeks of heavy job searching, you’re almost there!

You’ve perfected your resume.

You’ve short-listed the coolest jobs you want to apply for.

You’ve even had a friend train you for every single interview question out there.

But then, before you can send in your application and call it a day, you remember that you need to write a cover letter too.

So now, you’re stuck staring at a blank page, wondering where to start...

Don’t panic! We’ve got you covered. Writing a cover letter is a lot simpler than you might think. 

In this guide, we’re going to teach you how to write a cover letter that gets you the job you deserve.

We're going to cover:

What Is a Cover Letter?

  • How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter, Step by Step
  • 15+ Job-Winning Cover Letter Examples

Let’s get started.

A cover letter is a document that you submit as part of your job application, alongside your resume or CV.

The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce you and briefly summarize your professional background. On average, it should be around 250 to 400 words long .

A good cover letter is supposed to impress the hiring manager and convince them you’re worth interviewing as a candidate.

So, how can your cover letter achieve this?

First of all, it should complement your resume, not copy it. Your cover letter is your chance to elaborate on important achievements, skills, or anything else that your resume doesn’t give you the space to cover. 

For example, if you have an employment gap on your resume, the cover letter is a great place to explain why it happened and how it helped you grow as a person. 

If this is your first time writing a cover letter, writing about yourself might seem complicated. But don’t worry—you don’t need to be super creative or even a good writer .

All you have to do is follow this tried and tested cover letter structure:

structure of a cover letter

  • Header. Add all the necessary contact information at the top of your cover letter.
  • Formal greeting. Choose an appropriate way to greet your target audience.
  • Introduction. Introduce yourself in the opening paragraph and explain your interest in the role.
  • Body. Elaborate on why you’re the best candidate for the job and a good match for the company. Focus on “selling” your skills, achievements, and relevant professional experiences.
  • Conclusion. Summarize your key points and wrap it up professionally.

Now, let’s take a look at an example of a cover letter that follows our structure perfectly:

How to Write a Cover Letter

New to cover letter writing? Give our cover letter video a watch before diving into the article!

When Should You Write a Cover Letter?

You should always include a cover letter in your job application, even if the hiring manager never reads it. Submitting a cover letter is as important as submitting a resume if you want to look like a serious candidate.

If the employer requests a cover letter as part of the screening process, not sending one is a huge red flag and will probably get your application tossed into the “no” pile immediately.

On the other hand, if the job advertisement doesn’t require a cover letter from the candidates, adding one shows you went the extra mile.

Putting in the effort to write a cover letter can set you apart from other candidates with similar professional experience and skills, and it could even sway the hiring manager to call you for an interview if you do it right.

Need to write a letter to help get you into a good school or volunteer program? Check out our guide to learn how to write a motivation letter !

How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter

Now that you know what a cover letter is, it’s time to learn how to write one!

We’ll go through the process in detail, step by step.

#1. Choose the Right Cover Letter Template

A good cover letter is all about leaving the right first impression.

So, what’s a better way to leave a good impression than a well-formatted, stylish template?

cover letter templates for 2024

Just choose one of our hand-picked cover letter templates , and you’ll be all set in no time!

As a bonus, our intuitive AI will even give you suggestions on how to improve your cover letter as you write it. You’ll have the perfect cover letter done in minutes!

cover letter templates

#2. Put Contact Information in the Header

As with a resume, it’s important to 

start your cover letter

 with your contact details at the top. These should be in your cover letter’s header, separated neatly from the bulk of your text.

Contact Information on Cover Letter

Here, you want to include all the essential contact information , including:

  • Full Name. Your first and last name should stand out at the top.
  • Job Title. Match the professional title underneath your name to the exact job title of the position you’re applying for. Hiring managers often hire for several roles at once, so giving them this cue about what role you’re after helps things go smoother.
  • Email Address. Always use a professional and easy-to-spell email address. Ideally, it should combine your first and last names.
  • Phone Number. Add a number where the hiring manager can easily reach you.
  • Location. Add your city and state/country, no need for more details.
  • Relevant Links (optional). You can add links to websites or social media profiles that are relevant to your field. Examples include a LinkedIn profile , Github, or an online portfolio.

Then it’s time to add the recipient’s contact details, such as:

  • Hiring Manager's Name. If you can find the name of the hiring manager, add it.
  • Hiring Manager's Title. While there’s no harm in writing “hiring manager,” if they’re the head of the department, we recommend you use that title accordingly.
  • Company Name. Make sure to write the name of the company you're applying to.
  • Location. The city and state/country are usually enough information here, too.
  • Date of Writing (Optional). You can include the date you wrote your cover letter for an extra professional touch.

matching resume and cover letter

#3. Address the Hiring Manager

Once you’ve properly listed all the contact information, it’s time to start writing the content of the cover letter.

The first thing you need to do here is to address your cover letter directly to the hiring manager.

In fact, you want to address the hiring manager personally .

Forget the old “Dear Sir or Madam” or the impersonal “To Whom It May Concern.” You want to give your future boss a good impression and show them that you did your research before sending in your application.

No one wants to hire a job seeker who just spams 20+ companies and hopes something sticks with their generic approach

So, how do you find out who’s the hiring manager?

First, check the job ad. The hiring manager’s name might be listed somewhere in it.

If that doesn’t work, check the company’s LinkedIn page. You just need to look up the head of the relevant department you’re applying to, and you’re all set.

For example, if you’re applying for the position of Communication Specialist at Novorésumé. The hiring manager is probably the Head of Communications or the Chief Communications Officer.

Here’s what you should look for on LinkedIn:

linkedin search cco

And there you go! You have your hiring manager.

But let’s say you’re applying for a position as a server . In that case, you’d be looking for the “restaurant manager” or “food and beverage manager.”

If the results don’t come up with anything, try checking out the “Team” page on the company website; there’s a good chance you’ll at least find the right person there.

Make sure to address them as Mr. or Ms., followed by their last name. If you’re not sure about their gender or marital status, you can just stick to their full name, like so:

  • Dear Mr. Kurtuy,
  • Dear Andrei Kurtuy,

But what if you still can’t find the hiring manager’s name, no matter where you look?

No worries. You can direct your cover letter to the company, department, or team as a whole, or just skip the hiring manager’s name.

  • Dear [Department] Hiring Manager
  • Dear Hiring Manager
  • Dear [Department] Team
  • Dear [Company Name]

Are you applying for a research position? Learn how to write an academic personal statement .

#4. Write an Eye-Catching Introduction

First impressions matter, especially when it comes to your job search.

Hiring managers get hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of applications. Chances are, they’re not going to be reading every single cover letter end-to-end.

So, it’s essential to catch their attention from the very first paragraph.

The biggest problem with most opening paragraphs is that they’re usually extremely generic. Here’s an example:

  • My name is Jonathan, and I’d like to work as a Sales Manager at XYZ Inc. I’ve worked as a Sales Manager at MadeUpCompany Inc. for 5+ years, so I believe that I’d be a good fit for the position.

See the issue here? This opening paragraph doesn’t say anything except the fact that you’ve worked the job before.

And do you know who else has similar work experience? All the other applicants you’re competing with.

Instead, you want to start with some of your top achievements to grab the reader’s attention. And to get the point across, the achievements should be as relevant as possible to the position.

Your opening paragraph should also show the hiring manager a bit about why you want this specific job. For example, mention how the job relates to your plans for the future or how it can help you grow professionally. This will show the hiring manager that you’re not just applying left and right—you’re actually enthusiastic about getting this particular role.

Now, let’s make our previous example shine:

Dear Mr. Smith,

My name’s Michael, and I’d like to help XYZ Inc. hit and exceed its sales goals as a Sales Manager. I’ve worked as a Sales Representative with Company X, another fin-tech company , for 3+ years, where I generated an average of $30,000+ in sales per month and beat the KPIs by around 40%. I believe that my previous industry experience, passion for finance , and excellence in sales make me the right candidate for the job.

The second candidate starts with what they can do for the company in the future and immediately lists an impressive and relevant achievement. Since they’re experienced in the same industry and interested in finance, the hiring manager can see they’re not just a random applicant.

From this introduction, it’s safe to say that the hiring manager would read the rest of this candidate’s cover letter.

#5. Use the Cover Letter Body for Details

The next part of your cover letter is where you can go into detail about what sets you apart as a qualified candidate for the job.

The main thing you need to remember here is that you shouldn’t make it all about yourself . Your cover letter is supposed to show the hiring manager how you relate to the job and the company you’re applying to.

No matter how cool you make yourself sound in your cover letter, if you don’t tailor it to match what the hiring manager is looking for, you’re not getting an interview.

To get this right, use the job ad as a reference when writing your cover letter. Make sure to highlight skills and achievements that match the job requirements, and you’re good to go.

Since this part of your cover letter is by far the longest, you should split it into at least two paragraphs.

Here’s what each paragraph should cover:

Explain Why You’re the Perfect Candidate for the Role

Before you can show the hiring manager that you’re exactly what they’ve been looking for, you need to know what it is they’re looking for.

Start by doing a bit of research. Learn what the most important skills and responsibilities of the role are according to the job ad, and focus on any relevant experience you have that matches them.

For example, if you’re applying for the position of a Facebook Advertiser. The top requirements on the job ad are:

  • Experience managing a Facebook ad budget of $10,000+ / month
  • Some skills in advertising on other platforms (Google Search + Twitter)
  • Excellent copywriting skills

So, in the body of your cover letter, you need to show how you meet these requirements. Here’s an example of what that can look like:

In my previous role as a Facebook Marketing Expert at XYZ Inc. I handled customer acquisition through ads, managing a monthly Facebook ad budget of $40,000+ . As the sole digital marketer at the company, I managed the ad creation and management process end-to-end. I created the ad copy and images, picked the targeting, ran optimization trials, and so on.

Other than Facebook advertising, I’ve also delved into other online PPC channels, including:

  • Google Search

Our example addresses all the necessary requirements and shows off the candidate’s relevant skills.

Are you a student applying for your first internship? Learn how to write an internship cover letter with our dedicated guide.

Explain Why You’re a Good Fit for the Company

As skilled and experienced as you may be, that’s not all the hiring manager is looking for.

They also want someone who’s a good fit for their company and who actually wants to work there.

Employees who don’t fit in with the company culture are likely to quit sooner or later. This ends up costing the company a ton of money, up to 50% of the employee’s annual salary , so hiring managers vet candidates very carefully to avoid this scenario.

So, you have to convince the hiring manager that you’re passionate about working with them.

Start by doing some research about the company. You want to know things like:

  • What’s the company’s business model?
  • What’s the company’s product or service? Have you used it?
  • What’s the company’s culture like?

Chances are, you’ll find all the information you need either on the company website or on job-search websites like Jobscan or Glassdoor.

Then, pick your favorite thing about the company and talk about it in your cover letter.

But don’t just describe the company in its own words just to flatter them. Be super specific—the hiring manager can see through any fluff.

For example, if you’re passionate about their product and you like the company’s culture of innovation and independent work model, you can write something like:

I’ve personally used the XYZ Smartphone, and I believe that it’s the most innovative tech I’ve used in years. The features, such as Made-Up-Feature #1 and Made-Up-Feature #2, were real game changers for the device.

I really admire how Company XYZ strives for excellence in all its product lines, creating market-leading tech. As someone who thrives in a self-driven environment, I truly believe that I’ll be a great match for your Product Design team.

So, make sure to do your fair share of research and come up with good reasons why you're applying to that specific company.

Is the company you want to work for not hiring at the moment? Check out our guide to writing a letter of interest .

#6. Wrap It Up and Sign It

Finally, it’s time to conclude your cover letter.

In the final paragraph, you want to:

  • Wrap up any points you couldn't make in the previous paragraphs. Do you have anything left to say? If there’s any other information that could help the hiring manager make their decision, mention it here. If not, just recap your key selling points so far, such as key skills and expertise.
  • Express gratitude. Politely thanking the hiring manager for their time is always a good idea.
  • Finish the cover letter with a call to action. The very last sentence in your cover letter should be a call to action. This means you should ask the hiring manager to do something, like call you and discuss your application or arrange an interview.
  • Remember to sign your cover letter. Just add a formal closing line and sign your name at the bottom.

Here’s an example of how to end your cover letter :

I hope to help Company X make the most of their Facebook marketing initiatives. I'd love to further discuss how my previous success at XYZ Inc. can help you achieve your Facebook marketing goals. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at the provided email address or phone number so that we may arrange an interview.

Thank you for your consideration,

Alice Richards

Feel free to use one of these other popular closing lines for your cover letter:

  • Best Regards,
  • Kind Regards,

Cover Letter Writing Checklist

Once you’re done with your cover letter, it’s time to check if it meets all industry requirements. 

Give our handy cover letter writing checklist a look to make sure:

Does your cover letter heading include all essential information?

  • Professional Email
  • Phone Number
  • Relevant Links

Do you address the right person? 

  • The hiring manager in the company
  • Your future direct supervisor
  • The company/department in general

Does your introductory paragraph grab the reader's attention?

  • Did you mention some of your top achievements?
  • Did you use numbers and facts to back up your experience?
  • Did you convey enthusiasm for the specific role?

Do you show that you’re the right candidate for the job?

  • Did you identify the core requirements for the role?
  • Did you show how your experiences helped you fit the requirements perfectly?

Do you convince the hiring manager that you’re passionate about the company you’re applying to?

  • Did you identify the top 3 things that you like about the company?
  • Did you avoid generic reasons for explaining your interest in the company?

Did you conclude your cover letter properly?

  • Did you recap your key selling points in the conclusion?
  • Did you end your cover letter with a call to action?
  • Did you use the right formal closing line and sign your name?

15 Cover Letter Tips

Now you’re all set to write your cover letter! 

Before you start typing, here are some cover letter tips to help take your cover letter to the next level:

  • Customize Your Cover Letter for Each Job. Make sure your cover letter is tailored to the job you're applying for. This shows you're not just sending generic applications left and right, and it tells the hiring manager you’re the right person for the job.
  • Showcase Your Skills. Talk about how your skills meet the company’s needs. And while your hard skills should be front and center, you shouldn’t underestimate your soft skills in your cover letter either.
  • Avoid Fluff. Don’t make any generic statements you can’t back up. The hiring manager can tell when you’re just throwing words around, and it doesn’t make your cover letter look good.
  • Use Specific Examples. Instead of saying you're great at something, give an actual example to back up your claim. Any data you can provide makes you sound more credible, so quantify your achievements. For example, give numbers such as percentages related to your performance and the timeframe it took to accomplish certain achievements.
  • Research the Company. Always take time to learn about the company you're applying to. Make sure to mention something about them in your cover letter to show the hiring manager that you're interested.
  • Follow the Application Instructions. If the job posting asks for something specific in your cover letter or requires a certain format, make sure you include it. Not following instructions can come off as unattentive or signal to the hiring manager that you’re not taking the job seriously.
  • Use the Right Template and Format. Choose the right cover letter format and adapt your cover letter’s look to the industry you’re applying for. For example, if you’re aiming for a job in Law or Finance, you should go for a cleaner, more professional look. But if you’re applying for a field that values innovation, like IT or Design, you have more room for creativity.
  • Express Your Enthusiasm. Let the hiring manager know why you're excited about the job. Your passion for the specific role or the field in general can be a big selling point, and show them that you’re genuinely interested, not just applying left and right.
  • Address Any Gaps. If there are any employment gaps in your resume , your cover letter is a great place to mention why. Your resume doesn’t give you enough space to elaborate on an employment gap, so addressing it here can set hiring managers at ease—life happens, and employers understand.
  • Avoid Quirky Emails. Your email address should be presentable. It’s hard for a hiring manager to take you seriously if your email address is “[email protected].” Just use a [email protected] format.
  • Check Your Contact Information. Typos in your email address or phone number can mean a missed opportunity. Double-check these before sending your application.
  • Mention if You Want to Relocate. If you’re looking for a job that lets you move somewhere else, specify this in your cover letter.
  • Keep It Brief. You want to keep your cover letter short and sweet. Hiring managers don’t have time to read a novel, so if you go over one page, they simply won’t read it at all.
  • Use a Professional Tone. Even though a conversational tone isn’t a bad thing, remember that it's still a formal document. Show professionalism in your cover letter by keeping slang, jargon, and emojis out of it.
  • Proofread Carefully. Typos and grammar mistakes are a huge deal-breaker. Use a tool like Grammarly or QuillBot to double-check your spelling and grammar, or even get a friend to check it for you.

15+ Cover Letter Examples

Need some inspiration? Check out some perfect cover letter examples for different experience levels and various professions.

5+ Cover Letter Examples by Experience

#1. college student cover letter example.

college or student cover letter example

Check out our full guide to writing a college student cover letter here.

#2. Middle Management Cover Letter Example

Middle Management Cover Letter

Check out our full guide to writing a project manager cover letter here.

#3. Team Leader Cover Letter Example

Team Leader Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing a team leader cover letter here.

#4. Career Change Cover Letter Example

Career Change Cover Letter

Check out our full guide to a career change resume and cover letter here.

#5. Management Cover Letter Example

Management Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing a management cover letter here.

#6. Senior Executive Cover Letter Example

Senior Executive Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing an executive resume here.

9+ Cover Letter Examples by Profession

#1. it cover letter example.

IT Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing an IT cover letter here.

#2. Consultant Cover Letter Example

Consultant Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing a consultant cover letter here.

#3. Human Resources Cover Letter

Human Resources Cover Letter

Check out our full guide to writing a human resources cover letter here.

#4. Business Cover Letter Example

Business Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing a business cover letter here.

#5. Sales Cover Letter Example

Sales Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing a sales cover letter here.

#6. Social Worker Cover Letter

Social Worker Cover Letter

Check out our full guide to writing a social worker cover letter here.

#7. Lawyer Cover Letter

Lawyer Cover Letter

Check out our full guide to writing a lawyer cover letter here.

#8. Administrative Assistant Cover Letter

Administrative Assistant Cover Letter

Check out our full guide to writing an administrative assistant cover letter here.

#9. Engineering Cover Letter Example

Engineering Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing an engineer cover letter here.

#10. Receptionist Cover Letter Example

Receptionist Cover Letter Example

Check out our full guide to writing a receptionist cover letter here.

Need more inspiration? Check out these cover letter examples to learn what makes them stand out.

Plug & Play Cover Letter Template

Not sure how to start your cover letter? Don’t worry!

Just copy and paste our free cover letter template into the cover letter builder, and swap out the blanks for your details.

[Your Full Name]

[Your Profession]

[Your Phone Number]

[Your Email Address]

[Your Location]

[Your LinkedIn Profile URL (optional)]

[Your Personal Website URL (optional)]

[Recipient's Name, e.g., Jane Doe],

[Recipient's Position, e.g., Hiring Manager]

[Company Name, e.g., ABC Corporation]

[Company Address]

[City, State/Country]

Dear [Recipient's Name],

As a seasoned [Your Profession] with [Number of Years of Experience] years of industry experience, I am eager to express my interest in the [Job Title] position at [Company Name]. With my experience in [Your Industry/Sector] and the successes I've achieved throughout my education and career, I believe I can bring unique value and creativity to your team.

In my current role as [Your Current Job Title], I've taken the lead on more than [Number of Projects/Assignments] projects, some valued up to $[Highest Project Value]. I pride myself on consistently exceeding client expectations and have successfully [Mention a Key Achievement] in just a [Amount of Time] through [Skill] and [Skill].

I've collaborated with various professionals, such as [List Roles], ensuring that all [projects/tasks] meet [relevant standards or objectives]. This hands-on experience, coupled with my dedication to understanding each [client's/customer's] vision, has equipped me to navigate and deliver on complex projects.

My key strengths include:

  • Improving [Achievement] by [%] over [Amount of Time] which resulted in [Quantified Result].
  • Optimizing [Work Process/Responsibility] which saved [Previous Employer] [Amount of Time/Budget/Other Metric] over [Weeks/Months/Years]
  • Spearheading team of [Number of People] to [Task] and achieving [Quantified Result].

Alongside this letter, I've attached my resume. My educational background, a [Your Degree] with a concentration in [Your Specialization], complements the practical skills that I'm particularly eager to share with [Company Name].

I'm excited about the possibility of contributing to [Something Notable About the Company or Its Mission]. I'd be grateful for the chance to delve deeper into how my expertise aligns with your needs.

Thank you for considering my application, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

The Heart of Your Job Search - Creating a Killer Resume

Your cover letter is only as good as your resume. If either one is weak, your entire application falls through.

After all, your cover letter is meant to complement your resume. Imagine going through all this effort to leave an amazing first impression in your cover letter, only for the hiring manager to never read it because your resume was mediocre.

But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered here, too.

Check out our dedicated guide on how to make a resume and learn everything you need to know to land your dream job!

Just pick one of our resume templates and start writing your own job-winning resume.

resume examples for cover letters

Key Takeaways

Now that we’ve walked you through all the steps of writing a cover letter, let’s summarize everything we’ve learned:

  • A cover letter is a 250 - 400 word document that’s meant to convince the hiring manager that you’re the best candidate for the job.
  • Your job application should always include a cover letter alongside your resume.
  • To grab the hiring manager’s attention, write a strong opening paragraph. Mention who you are, why you’re applying, and a standout achievement to pique their interest.
  • Your cover letter should focus on why you’re the perfect candidate for the job and why you’re passionate about working in this specific company.
  • Use the body of your cover letter to provide details on your skills, achievements, and qualifications, as well as make sure to convey your enthusiasm throughout your whole cover letter.
  • Recap your key selling points towards the end of your cover letter, and end it with a formal closing line and your full name signed underneath.

At Novorésumé, we’re committed to helping you get the job you deserve every step of the way! 

Follow our career blog for more valuable advice, or check out some of our top guides, such as:

  • How to Make a Resume in 2024 | Beginner's Guide
  • How to Write a CV (Curriculum Vitae) in 2024 [31+ Examples]
  • 35+ Job Interview Questions and Answers [Full List]

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how to write a cover letter for a book

How to Write a Cover Letter

S omebody hiring you for a job will skim your resume, or may use an applicant tracking system to review it, but they will read your cover letter if considering you for a position .

Resumes are a vital tool for landing a job, and no job seeker should rush writing it, but the cover letter is worth lavishing time and attention on, too.

So if you’re looking for tips on how to write a cover letter, open up a document, and let’s get writing.

What Is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a letter that you’ll submit to an employer along with your resume and anything else, like a portfolio of your work, when you apply for a job. The cover letter makes a case for why you’re the person the company should hire.

If your resume is analogous to your brain – offering the facts and the logical reason why you should be hired – the cover letter is your heart – possibly striking an emotional chord with the employer and at least getting to the heart of the matter of why you, and no one else, is right for the job.

The resume should convince the employer that you have the background for the job; the cover letter should make it clear that you’re going to be an amazing employee and a pleasure to work with. After all, if all goes well, these people may be hanging out with you on their lunch break or working closely with you when you’re dealing with stressed out or difficult clients. That's arguably almost as important as you actually being capable of doing the work you're being hired for. And because of that, an employer would like to have a sense of your personality and who you are. A well-crafted cover letter can do that.

Choosing a Header

So how should you start the cover letter? Most resume experts will tell you to try and find the hiring manager's name, if at all possible. Assuming you have it, then you'd go with "Dear Mr. Smith" or "Dear Ms. Smith." You might want to address the person by their first name, according to Jennifer Fishberg, founder of Career Karma Resume Development & Career Services, which is based out of Highland Park, New Jersey.

That is, if you’ve already had contact with the person, or there has been a referral, going with a first name might be fine, Fishberg says.

“But if you’re unsure, err on the side of the formal,” Fishberg says.

And what if you’re applying blindly and have no idea who is going to read the cover letter? Perhaps the classic and tried-and-true “To Whom It May Concern”?

That would be a hard no, according to Fishberg.

“’To Whom It May Concern’ is a non-starter,” she says. “It just screams that this is one of a hundred mass-produced letters you've sent out and couldn't be bothered. Part of the job of the cover letter is to humanize you to the reader, so an impersonal greeting doesn't help your cause there,” Fishberg says.

So what should you go with? “If you really can't find a name, then ‘Dear Hiring Team’ can work,” Fishberg says.

The Opening

So once you’ve addressed whom you’re writing to, as you can imagine, you’d better seem pretty compelling quickly. You’re competing with a lot of job applicants.

“A strong cover letter grabs the reader's attention from the first line,” Fishberg says.

Easy to say, not always easy to pull off. But Fishberg suggests that you might want to highlight what you know of your employer’s “pain points” and your ability to offer solutions. Your employer has some sort of problem or wouldn’t need to hire somebody. The employer hopes that by hiring you, you will solve those problems.

“Start with an attention-grabbing sentence,” says Deb Harrison, a former high school English teacher and now growth and change consultant who has worked with companies in recruiting and with individuals searching for jobs. She is based out of Montgomery, New York.

Harrison says that attention-grabbing sentence might involve a relevant quote, statistic or anecdote. But don’t go overboard with your quotes, statistics or anecdote. “Make it clear in the first paragraph why you are applying for the specific job,” Harrison says.

Writing the Body

OK, you feel good about how you’ve addressed whoever is reading your letter. You’ve got the reader hooked. Now here’s where things can either soar or start to fall apart.

There’s so much to think about, including:

Length. Most job sites will encourage you to write a cover letter that’s half a page to a page long. Harrison says that “recruiters have a lot to look through, so too much information may not even get read, but it should provide enough to stand out to the recruiter.”

Tone. “Type like you are speaking in an interview ,” says Pete Milne, managing director of Robert Walters North America, a professional recruiting firm. “It is so easy to be overly formal in written form.”

That may sound like the opposite of what you want since formal would seem to equate being professional, but no, Milne asserts. Being overly formal can really backfire.

“The tendency to use bigger words or complex language is tempting in order to show your intelligence levels. However, long sentences, difficult to read paragraphs and convoluted language are all signs of poor communication,” he says. “No one should have to dissect what you are trying to say. Make it obvious and super easy to read.”

Milne adds: “Also, imagine the shock when you turn up to an interview and sound nothing like your highly formal, legal-sounding cover letter. Stay true to yourself and be confident with your real tone of voice and personality.”

Details. As in, they matter, but don't go overboard here either. “Stick to the important stuff – a cover letter isn’t a biography,” Milne says. “As much as I encourage professionals to spend a good amount of time on a cover letter, there also needs to be an understanding that this will likely be scanned over by your prospective employer – hence the need to keep the language simple. See a cover letter as your highlights reel."

And only, Milne adds, including the highlights that are relevant to landing the job.

But if you feel like your cover letter needs a little something else, even if it has nothing to do with the job, you can probably get away with it, within reason, according to Milne.

“There is no harm in including that you are an avid surfer, but don’t go on about it unless you like to compete on a professional level, and tie in how getting to the finish line is a core makeup of your personality," Milne says. "All roads lead back to whether you will be good at this particular job or not.”

You may start to feel like this cover letter is as hard to write as a novel or television script, but you don’t have to close with a powerful ending for the ages or a cliffhanger, fortunately. Harrison advises that in your final paragraph and sentences you encourage the reader to take action – that is, reply to you (and be sure to provide your contact information). She also suggests you reiterate your enthusiasm for the position and thank the reader for considering your application.

Kyle Elliott, a career coach who lives in Santa Barbara, California, had a suggestion for the ending, if you have room and think it needs more punch.

"Because social proof is powerful, a creative and powerful way to end your cover letter is with a testimonial from a supervisor, colleague or client. You don't need to ask for an entire letter of recommendation here either. You can repurpose a testimonial from your LinkedIn profile or take a snippet from a performance review you received at work," he says.

And there you go. You’re done. Almost.

Review Your Cover Letter

That was just a first draft. You need to look over your cover letter again, especially if you really want this job . There are a lot of pitfalls that you want to make sure you didn’t stumble into while writing your letter.

For instance, you shouldn't only worry about typos or misspelling names, but getting basic facts incorrect.

“Frustratingly, the No. 1 thing that professionals can often get wrong in a cover letter is the company name or role that they are applying for,” Milne says.

Think about how that looks to a recruiter or potential employer, misnaming the company or even the type of job you’re applying for.

“Often the reason this happens is because job hunters typically use the same cover letter for multiple applications – barring a few tweaks,” Milne says.

"A copy and paste job when it comes to cover letters is lazy and can be borderline offensive or off-putting to recruiters or organizations depending on how obvious it is that you are firing off the same cover letter to multiple organizations," Milne says.

Repetition can also be a problem. In other words, are you repeating everything in the cover letter that you put in the resume? Not a great idea, according to Elliott.

“You want to avoid the common mistake of summarizing your resume when writing your cover letter. Instead, use your cover letter as an opportunity to express your interest in the company and role, as well as what sets you apart from other candidates,” Elliott says.

Sure, you knew that already – but it’s still easy to fall into the repetitive trap.

“Specificity is your friend when writing your cover letter. Give specific examples as to why you're drawn to this company compared to its competitors,” Elliott says. “Additionally, explain what distinguishes you from other applicants. If you offer a specific type of experience, knowledge or skill, be sure to call this out in your cover letter.”

Final Tips on Writing a Cover Letter

Finally, the important thing is to take writing a cover letter seriously.

"Cover letters often get a bad rap these days, both from job seekers and from the hiring side," Fishberg says. "Treating the cover letter as an obligatory nuisance is a missed opportunity to differentiate yourself from other applicants."

And if you can differentiate yourself, you'll have really pulled something off. You may even get hired .

"The perfect cover letter is the one that shows you've done your homework and understand this particular job and this company's needs. It's not one-size-fits-all," Fishberg says.

Copyright 2023 U.S. News & World Report


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Ina Garten Debuts the Cover of Her 'No-Holds-Barred' Memoir Be Ready When the Luck Happens (Exclusive)

The Food Network star will release her memoir, 'Be Ready When the Luck Happens,' on Oct. 1

how to write a cover letter for a book

Austin Hargrave

Ina Garten never wanted to write a memoir. "I just didn't think anybody would find my life that interesting," she tells PEOPLE exclusively.

Lucky for her millions of fans, Garten, 76, was convinced otherwise. The Barefoot Contessa star will release her memoir, Be Ready When the Luck Happens , on Oct. 1.

Garten's friend and collaborator on the book, Deborah Davis, changed her mind. "She said, 'Somebody's going to write your memoir and it should be you,' " Garten recalls. "I thought, 'Oh, my God, she's right.' "

That was four years ago — and Garten has been working on it ever since. Be Ready When the Luck Happens will chronicle her incredible journey to becoming one of the most beloved stars on Food Network . Garten will detail her "difficult childhood," according to a press release, and her remarkable love story with husband, Jeffrey Garten .

"In her unmistakable voice (no one tells a story like Ina), she brings her past and her process to life in a high-spirited and no-holds-barred memoir that chronicles decades of personal challenges, adventures (and misadventures) and unexpected career twists, all delivered with her signature combination of playfulness and purpose," reads the release.

Ina had plenty of material to pull from. "Jeffrey used to write letters to me when we first met, when I was in high school. And then through college. And then when he was in the military, he would write to me almost every day," she tells PEOPLE. "And I kept all those letters."

Ina and Jeffrey's romance began in 1963 when she was 15 visiting her brother at Dartmouth College, where Jeffrey was also a student. They were married in 1968 and Jeffrey was deployed to Thailand shortly after. They would eventually live in Washington, D.C., where Ina worked as a nuclear-budget analyst at the Office of Management and Budget under the Jimmy Carter Administration.

Her time in D.C. was one the more challenging eras to relive for her memoir. Ina recalls becoming "completely unglued" while writing it. "I completely lost it," she says.

"I'd forgotten how much I hated being there and how frustrated I was that I wanted to do something creative and something challenging that was mine," she adds.

There is a happy ending, of course. Ina answered an ad for a speciality food story in West Hampton, N.Y. called Barefoot Contessa, which would become her brand name and the beginning of her culinary stardom. When the shop closed, Ina continued to write her cookbooks and shoot her cooking shows from her home in East Hampton, N.Y.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Ina only let Jeffrey read the last draft of Be Ready When the Luck Happens. Jeffrey is dyslexic so he typically reads for just short periods of time.

But with her book, "He sat down after lunch and read it, and he didn't get up until 7:30 at night," says Ina. "He read the entire thing in one sitting. And I was like, 'Whoa.' I kept bringing him snacks and coffee. He just loved it."

Ina hopes others will be as receptive. "It was really fun to do," she says. "I wasn't scared at all, but the thought of sending it out in the world is a whole other story."

Be Ready When the Luck Happens , published by Crown, will be released on Oct. 1. An e-book and audio book read by Ina herself will also be available. It's available for pre-order now.

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