Things to Keep in Mind When You’re Writing That Cover Letter

cover-letter-impressive-resumesI’m quickly approaching the point in the writing process, where I need to start looking at  submission requirements for the agents/publishers I would like to contact with a proposal.

Agents and publishers have different requirements. It’s very important that you find out what those requirements are and follow them to the letter. Failure to do so could land your proposal in the rejection pile without being reviewed. It doesn’t matter how great you think your novel is. They will never know.

The first step to most proposals is the cover letter.  It should be no longer than one page. Not one and a bit, and not one in an uncomfortably small font. You may have a lot to say, but at this point, remember to keep it concise. Just because your plot is complex, doesn’t mean your letter needs to be.

The main aim of your cover letter is to give the agent/publisher more details about your manuscript and you, the author. Things like

  • manuscript title
  • genre
  • word count
  • manuscript blurb
  • market placement
  • target audience
  • author background
  • contact information (don’t forget this one)

Remember to follow the submission guidelines and tailor your letter to the requirements specified. For example, some ask you to say how you heard about them, and whether you have sent your work to other agents.

In every case, it is very important to address your letter to someone, rather than to a generic ‘To whom it may concern.’ Consider your cover letter an introduction to you and your work.

Also keep in mind that your cover letter, is the first impression any agent/publisher will have of your writing abilities. Therefore it should be straightforward and concise. Treat your cover letter as a business letter-after all that is what it is.

Lots of information and great examples of winning cover letters on the internet. I would recommend that you read a few, or maybe a lot-especially if this is your first attempt 🙂

-Jan Rouse

Things to Keep in Mind When You’re Writing That Cover Letter

Narrative Voice?

2812fa51-0be7-4e8e-83b6-c6805cfdedf6I’ve been writing seriously for the last few years, although I started my novel about five years ago. At that time I thought all you needed was to pick up a pen and paper and start writing. It wasn’t until I was rejected that I learned there were rules, strategies, and expectations that needed to be met for a publishable piece of work.

I’m still learning the rules and the writer lingo. Yes writers do have their own catch phrases and words that us non-writers may have heard but had no idea what they were talking about.

Have you ever had anyone ask you about your narrative voice? I know what the POV is and am pretty comfortable with that. Goodness knows I messed mine up so many times that I had to put some serious time in to figuring out what it was and how to use it properly, but narrative voice was not one of the options.

An article I read in Writers Digest this past week best described narrative voice. It’s the stream in which your story flows, the current carrying along the key information a story needs to thrive.

Setting descriptions, observations, philosophical musings, sensory imagery and more slip through the cracks between action, dialogue, and thoughts in your novel. All of that in-between material constitutes your narrative voice.

The narrative voice and the POV work together. If the narrative is the stream, then the POV is the swimmer stroking through it sending feelings and actions to the surface.

Now you have it. If anybody asks you about your narrative voice, you have a better understanding about what they are asking. There is so much more information available on the narrative voice and how it works with the POV but I want get into that today.

-Jan R


Narrative Voice?