If you’re hoping to write for a magazine, newspaper or website – or to gain interest from a literary agent or publisher for your book – what to write in a covering letter is always difficult. But here’s some things guaranteed to get your new relationship off on the wrong foot…!
You say: People tell me my book will be a bestseller
We say: The editor will be the judge of that.
You say: My book will be a movie
We say: But it isn’t even published yet…
You say: I will ring you next week to sort a date for lunch to discuss my proposition.
We say: This is a big turn-off. Wait until he or she asks you…
You say: I will pop in and meet you next week.
We say: Don’t come over as a stalker! As above, it is not for you to suggest this…
You say: My book is copyright to me.
We say: The true mark of an amateur writer (all work is automatically copyrighted to the author in the UK.)
You say: I am waiting for your reply
We say: Is this a threat? It sounds it and you’re likely to wait a long time…
You say: How much money will I get?
We say: Being obsessed about cash isn’t a good first impression.
You say: Any news? (when you only sent it a few days ago.)
We say: Editors hate to feel pressurised. Don’t give them an excuse like this to turn you away.
You say: I’ve already got other agents clamouring to speak with me.
We say: Why are you contacting us? We suggest you go with one of them then. TIP: Never lie and say someone else is interested when they’re not…!
You say: We can help one another (when you have 30 twitter followers and they have 30,000 etc)
We say: The fact is your well known, well connected editor doesn’t need any ‘help’ from you…
But writing a good covering letter is simple…
* Keep it simple.
* Keep it short.
* Be polite.
* Don’t hassle.
* Don’t make ridiculous big-headed claims about yourself.
* Don’t make yourself look an amateur by talking about copyright and money – all of that comes much, much later.
* Realise you are approaching them. If it is an unsolicited approach – and many pitches to editors are – they do not have to reply to you.
Have you got a formula that’s worked for you when pitching to write for a website, blog, publication or to a literary agent or publisher? Do let us know your tips below…