How To Write A Killer Cover Letter

 

writingaletter

A cover letter introduces you and your novel to potential agents or publishers. This letter is your first point of contact between you and a publishing professional, therefore, it is crucial that aspiring authors know how write a decent cover letter.

Here are three common questions, answered for writers looking to pave a successful path into the world of publishing with a cover letter that leaves a good impression:

What do I need?

1. An ‘elevator pitch’ & hook

An ‘elevator pitch’ is a brief and punchy summary of your novel that could be told to a publishing VIP between floors of a short elevator ride. Condense the core ideas of your novel into a dynamic and enthusiastic couple of sentences. Remember that your cover letter should be no longer than a page, so this section can only take a up a paragraph or two. Show them why it’s worth reading and be sure to include a ‘hook’ – something that drags your reader into the story, and leaves them dying to know what happens next.

2. A target audience

Outline your target audience. A good way to start is by looking at previous novels they have published and whether these books fall in the same category as yours, and share a target audience. Remember to be specific, publishers need more information than ‘Adult Fiction’. Include your audience’s gender, age group, interests, etc., if applicable.

3. Novel titles comparable to yours

Give two titles comparable to your novel (even better if they’re published by the publisher/agent you’re reaching out to). This is a great way to establish direct relevance and relation to potential publishers. More than that, it gives them an idea of where your novel will sit in the marketplace and how it will work with their existing list.

4. A word count

A simple and necessary step to let them know how long your novel is.

5. A killer author bio

Be interesting, be readable and draw them in with who you are and what you intend to do with your work. Here is also the place to list existing publishing credentials, and relevant education such as writing courses or degrees. You want to be able to get publishers/agents to see that you are a capable, focused and passionate writer.

6. Contact details

Give yourself the opportunity to be contacted if they decide to get in touch for further questions or details. Include your phone number, address and most importantly, your email address.

How do I put it together?

Put the above elements together in an easy-to-read, simple form. Keep sentences short, purposeful and in an active voice. The desired length of your letter should no longer than a page. Opt for a 12pt standard font such as Times New Roman, and at least 1.5 spacing.

Many new authors make the mistake of attempting to detail their background, life achievements and a lengthy breakdown of their novel. Long, unnecessary paragraphs will irritate the editor and an irritated submissions editor is not someone you want reading your life’s work and deciding its future.

In addition to being concise, remember to keep it error-free. Creatively-written content may help you stand out, but keep in mind that your letter is still a business proposal. It also goes without saying that a successful pitch leaves no room for error so before you click send, proofread it again and again. Better still, have other writer friends review it and provide you with feedback.

Do I include my manuscript? 

Always follow the agent’s/publisher’s submission guidelines. These guidelines are usually accessible on their website. The most common request is to include the first three chapters. In addition, you might also be asked for a synopsis (usually no longer than 300-words). I cannot stress enough the importance of adhering to the guidelines – this shows that you care about their work as well as yours.

Some other useful tips

  • Address your cover letter by name. Avoid clichés such as “dear sir/madam” or “to whom it may concern”. It is more genuine and respectful.
  • Use more formal language throughout the letter.
  • Have a logical and readable structure.
  • Thank them for their time.
  • Sign off gracefully – e.g. “yours sincerely” – before your name.

With these tips, you’re good to go!

Via: https://writersedit.com/fiction-writing/how-to-write-a-cover-letter-to-publishers/amp/

5 Reasons Agents Don’t Explain Rejections 

 

BookCover-rejected2

Something I have heard a lot from Writer friends is how frustrating it is to receive a rejection without any other feedback as to why. Well, here from the horse’s mouth, are the reasons why:

Authors often express frustration that their rejection letters don’t contain any hint of the real reason the project wasn’t accepted (save for something generic like “the project doesn’t fit my needs at the present time.”) A writer told me she’s not asking for much — just “one word, maybe two” of explanation at the end of a form rejection. That’s not asking too much, is it?

We love helping authors reach their goals and realise their dreams, so we’re sad to say that it is asking too much. Here’s why:

1. We just don’t have the time.

The necessity to add “a word or two” of explanation could potentially triple or quadruple the time it takes for us to respond to each query. With a hundred or more queries a week, it adds up.

2. I know when a query doesn’t appeal to me, but it’s not easy to quickly explain why.

When you walk through the department store looking for clothes, do you stop at every single item of clothing and dissect why it’s not right for you? Of course not. But if you did, you’d spend an awful lot of time trying to identify exactly why it doesn’t appeal. Something about the style? The colour? Does it seem to old or too young? Too casual or too formal? Is it just plain ugly? Or is it…  just not what you’re looking for right now?

It doesn’t make sense spending all that time figuring out why you don’t like most of the clothes. You’re there to find something you can BUY, so that’s where the bulk of your time needs to be spent. It’s the same with queries. We must spend our time looking for what we can work with, and quickly dispense with the rest.

3. Our reasons might do more harm than good.

Would you really like to hear that we think your book idea is (in our opinion) unoriginal, boring, derivative, or poorly written? We don’t want to unnecessarily confuse, enrage, or depress you.  Any brief response we offer would only leave you with more questions than if we said nothing.

4. Our reasons, should we offer them, could be wrong.

No matter why we don’t want to pursue your project, we realise we are not the last word. The next agent might love it.

5. A literary agent is not obligated to help a non-client with their book.

Our obligation each and every day is to take care of our current clients. And yet, we try to  help the writing community anyway. We blog. We tweet. We teach at writers conferences. Hopefully, this is a good start start.

So where do you find the help you need? Critique partners, beta readers, editors, book doctors, and book mentors. And even reading blogs like this one!

So there you have it. Be reassured that the reason is not always because you suck and cannot write – writing, like any art form, is subjective, and just because one agent rejects it doesn’t mean they all will.

Good luck! x

Via: http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/reasons-agents-dont-explain-their-rejections/

Top 10 Reasons Books Are Rejected by Publishers

BookCover-rejected

The following article is provided by Keller Media as a public service. It is intended to help, support, guide and inspire writers to achieve their publishing goals. Wendy Keller is a Literary Agent who wrote this list for writers of non-fiction. However, after reading it, I would say most of her points apply to fiction writers too. I would advise every writer to read it, and make sure they aren’t doing anything on this list – regardless of your genre of writing. Enjoy!

It breaks my heart when would be authors write me back after my agency has rejected their forlorn book or book proposal. They often say, “What’s wrong with all you agents? Don’t you know good work when you see it?” Those are the angry types. Or the misguided but hopeful ones tell me, “I read that Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield were rejected (fill in the blank with any number) times before ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ became a worldwide best seller…I’m going to keep sending this out until one of you…”

Jack is a client of mine and he and Mark are both friends. I know some things new writers don’t know – basically, that they improved the content AND proved the concept by selling books themselves before Health Communications even took a small chance on them. Of course, there are several dozen stories of other authors throughout history whose books went on to be hugely successful despite original rejections – e.g., Dr Seuss, William Saroyan, etc.

Here’s the big difference between those eventual successes and 99.9% of the rest of the continually rejected books: those authors DID something (other than complain) while they were being rejected. And at this point in the publishing industry, the something you should be doing includes building a platform.

My agency sees many thousands of projects per year but I sell only 25-40 books per year – because most of what we’re sent is economically worthless. Why are so many rejected? I’ve noticed that most of the books we reject are rejected by all other agents and publishers too. There are REASONS for this!

Here are the Top Ten Reasons Authors Get Repeatedly Rejected:

1. You are writing on a topic that is glutted already – and you are saying nothing that is NDBM (New, Different, Better or offers the reader something More)

2. You are offering your content to agents who do not handle books like yours. This happens when you think bulk sending is going to increase your success.

3. You are a poor writer, use poor grammar or your work is rife with errors. We are professionals, you be too please.

4. You are evidently crazy. About 20% of everything my agency sees falls into this category. “I am channeling Elvis and he has an opinion on World Peace…”

5. You have no platform. That means you came up with your book idea inside your own ivory tower. You have not taken the effort to test it against the real world by building a social media following, getting paid speeches, doing any blogging or columns, etc. on the topic. (I’d say 80% of the nonfiction most agents reject happens for this one reason.)

6. You do not have any credentials related to the topic of your book. While the fact that you are now a successful immigrant to the USA may be amazing to your friends and family back in your native country, the fact that you bought a house, a car and put two kids through college doesn’t make you an expert on how to succeed in America unless you actually have helped others to achieve similar goals. Likewise, the fact you survived a bad divorce doesn’t make you an MFT or an attorney or even an expert on the topic.

7. You believe your life story has worldwide appeal. Writing a book as a way of sorting out your own personal history is an excellent therapeutic technique. It is rarely worthy of publication, however, unless you have been able to build a platform/association/charity/group of others who are helped directly by your story and/or methodology.

8. You are vehement, negative, angry, dismissive, rude, impolite, condescending, curt, vituperative, or churlish in the way you approach agents. We work on straight commission – nobody will put up with your behavior.

9. You plead and whine. This includes the surprising number of people whose (bad) book idea we’ve rejected who write back to beg, “If you sell this, I’ll give you DOUBLE the commission.” This one makes me smile, because $0 x 2 = $0.

10. You haven’t done a speck of research. You don’t know the competing books, you don’t know how to market a book, you don’t know how agents work, you don’t know how publishing works, and/or you have no clue how to prepare a book proposal. This a profession. The lone fact that your native language is English doesn’t mean you will succeed as a published author.

Here’s the weird corollary: Agents typically scramble and even politely “fight” over projects that are salable. If no one is even interested in – much less fighting – over yours, there’s a 100% chance that one of the ten reasons above applies in your case. As salespeople in a highly competitive industry, we are always urgently seeking new inventory. Provide it, you’ll get our undivided attention and a nice offer from a good publisher.

***

Wendy Keller has been a literary agent since 1989. In that time, Keller Media, Inc. has been pitched on +250,000 book projects. Writers who insist that she’s “wrong” about any of the 10 reasons above are typically those who fit into one of those categories themselves – and who end up unsuccessfully self-publishing or just grumbling for the rest of their lives. It doesn’t have to be that way! Adapt, learn and achieve your dreams!

Via: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/the-top-10-reasons-most-books-dont-attract-publishers

How I Got Published | Louise Beech

Louise-Beech

Today, an article all about “How I Got Published” by Louise Beech, which I hope you will agree is a very interesting read. Enjoy!

How did I get a book deal? It’s one of the things I’m frequently asked about at book events and festivals. How did I get published?

Unless the person asking – usually a hopeful writer, like I’ve been most of my life – has five hours, the determination to still keep writing despite my reply, and a pretty thick skin, I can’t respond fully. Time and a desire not to dishearten them prevents me answering in detail. Because my journey was long. Ten years long. People serve less time for serious crimes. It was littered with rejection upon rejection upon rejection. There was no satnav to tell me which way to go so that I arrived more easily at my destination.

There’s no magical right answer to the question of how to get published. Every single author will likely have a different tale to share. Some might have enjoyed a quick trip from writing a first novel to book deal, some may have got lucky with their tenth book, but most are probably still driving down the motorway, looking for the right exit.

All I can share is my story. And here it is. Are you ready?

I’ve been writing since I could hold a pen. I filled notepads and exercise books with entire novels (chapters and contents page included) from the age of nine. Writing was then – and still is – pure joy to me. The place I escape to, the place I feel safest, the only place in the world where I really feel I know what I’m doing, and that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be. As a teenager, I started my own magazine to rival the school one, and told anyone who would listen that I’d one day be a world-famous novelist. (That I’m still hoping for.) Then life took over a bit when I got pregnant at nineteen…

In my early thirties, I sent some pieces I’d written to our local newspaper and was offered my own column, Mum’s the Word, in which I wrote for ten years about being a parent. I also began to write short stories. Lots of them. I sent some out to magazines, entered some in competitions. Rejections came thick and fast. I cried the first time. But only once. I got up, wiped the tears away, and decided I had to improve. I wrote more. Slowly, they began being accepted. First by small ezines, and eventually by national magazines. I shortlisted twice for the Bridport Prize.

That was what gave me the confidence to write a novel. Every bit of advice I’d read suggested a writer hone their craft via the precise art of producing short stories, and by joining forums to gain harsh critiques in order to improve. I’d done both. So, after we flooded in 2007 and I had more time due to giving up work to care for my ill daughter, I started Maria in the Moon. It took me six months. It was a labour of not only love, but of tears. When I write, I give everything, and that can be draining afterwards. I let it ‘settle’ and then edited it some more. Then I sent it out to every agent and publisher. Over a period of a year, every single one of them rejected it.

I took time to recover – it’s hard, there’s no denying it, when your lovingly created work is rejected by everyone – and in 2009 I started a second novel, The Lion Tamer Who Lost. I tried to use all the advice I’d been given on forums, and all the tips I’d read by successful authors, but most of all I went back to the place where I knew I was supposed to be. Writing. Six months later I sent it out to every agent and publisher. They all rejected it.

In 2011, I went back to Maria in the Moon and tried to improve her. I tried a couple of new agents. Success! (Or so I thought.) A lady from United Agents invited me to visit her. Carol really liked it and took me on. She did everything, but – again – all the publishers she sent it to said no. One of them liked the style and asked if I had any more ideas for a novel. I told her about The Lion Tamer Who Lost but she didn’t like it. I mentioned one I had in my head, and she liked the sound of it. So, in 2012, I wrote The Mountain in my Shoe.

She said no. Carol sent it to other publishers. They all said no. Some had positive comments, but the general problem seemed to be what I was. Where I fit. I was that difficult creature – I didn’t fit into a genre. But I refused to conform. When I write I can only write what must be written. I can’t fit into some narrow niche. It isn’t me. But this was only going to make things harder.

Ironically, after being told that not fitting into a genre would hinder me, in 2013 I started the novel that was my most unusual and hardest to define – How to be Brave. This was one book that refused to kowtow to any market. I knew this would be my hardest sell, and yet I had to write it. Just as I finished, Carol told me she was retiring. She did everything to try and secure me another agent, but no one was interested. I was on my own again. I had written four books now.

I sent How to be Brave to every agent and publisher. They all said no. At the end of 2014 it shortlisted for a big competition. This is it, I thought. The prize was a book deal. And I was going to win. I wore my lucky red dress, told husband Joe that I knew someone in a red dress was going to win. We arrived at the prize-giving and another writer had on a red dress. She won. I was genuinely happy for her, because I knew how happy she must be. But I cried all the way back to the hotel. I was inconsolable.

I’ll admit, that was the hardest time. Friends asked how I could go on writing in the face of constant rejection. I said I did because I knew one day it would happen. I really did. But I began to lose my faith a little. I began to wonder if I could write a fifth book and go through it all again.

Then on Twitter I saw that a vivacious woman called Karen Sullivan was starting up Orenda Books. She wanted to publish beautiful books. Books she loved. I cheekily (this goes against all professional advice, folks!) tweeted her and asked if she would read How to be Brave. She said yes. She and slush reader Liz liked it. I had a tense wait for a definite answer, between Christmas 2014 and February 2015.

Louise Beech screen-shot-2017-07-03-at-11-11-45

Then on 9th February 2015 Karen emailed to say she loved the book, and of course it was a yes. I think, having read my journey, you can imagine how I felt. It makes me teary now to revisit. I know now that I only got rejected because I was supposed to be with Karen. She’s the only one who ‘got’ me. Got my books. Two years on, she has published the other novels no one wanted. Next year she will publish The Lion Tamer Who Lost too.

And I’m back to do doing what I love, but without all the tears. Writing. I’ve started book five, loosely titled Star Girl. And it’s exactly like when I was nine and filled notepads with words. It’s where I’m supposed to be. What I’m supposed to be doing. And I’m glad I never gave up.

Via: https://louisebeech.co.uk/2017/07/03/how-i-got-published/

The Five Stages of Publishing Your Book

It goes without saying that, first, you have to write the book. But if you are at that glorious stage where the book is actually written (and edited, and redrafted) then you might be asking – now what?

So, here is some handy info to help you answer that question:

Stage 1: Submission

  1. Read the subs guidelines! I know they’re annoying and it’s a pain to have to format (I submit too, so I have a lot of sympathy for the never-ending task of re-formatting things) but it really does make reading easier.
  2. And on the same note, please send the amount asked. If the guidelines wants 10,000 words, a little under or over is fine…but don’t send your entire manuscript.
  3. Having a synopsis is nice; it gives the reader some idea of how the story unfolds. They often won’t have time to read the entire thing, so the first 30 pages and a synopsis is excellent.
  4. Tell them something about you; you don’t have to seem quirky, but just some insight into who you are is nice. However, your work will speak for itself, so if (like me) you’re fairly self-conscious when it comes to showing off, you won’t miss out by not giving a huge bio.
  5. And lastly (again) – read the guidelines! You want to make the publisher’s job as easy as possible – and that means sending what they’ve asked for. Yes, it sucks when every single submission wants a different style and set of information, but them’s the breaks. Just do it.

Stage 2: Waiting. And waiting. And more waiting.

However, there is quite a lot going on behind the scenes…

  1. Slush-pile read; this is simply someone working through the submissions. At this stage, if you get rejected then you’re likely to get a form rejection. It sucks, but take it as a learning opportunity. Was there anything you could have done better? Did you submit to a publisher who might not want your genre or type of story? Are there better forums for your work? Or, put bluntly, does your work stink? (Most awful writers seem to believe they’re amazing, so if you’ve got a healthy dose of self-doubt then you’re probably fine.)
  2. The deafening silence. If you don’t get an immediate rejection, take heart; they’re considering your work. Most publishers will have guidelines for when you can bug them; please do remember that reading takes time, and the publisher might have 50 or 100 things to read!
  3. Request for a full manuscript. Yay! They liked it!
  4. Acceptance or rejection! You may get more feedback at this stage; most publishers are too busy to go into much detail, but they won’t lie – so if they say they liked it, then they liked it. Usually the choice simply comes down to tone or style. Again, treat it as a learning opportunity; was there anything you could have done better? What could you improve?

Stage 3: Editor’s read

Your story will get read by The People Who Matter – usually the editor(s). The manuscript may come back to you with comments; you might need to change a lot or a little, and then it goes back to the editor. This could be repeated multiple times, and you might find that it’s a repeat of your alpha- and beta- process…but this is up to the individual editors, and up to you how much you want to change your story. Again; you are the author, and you have the final decisions on changes. Take their comments into consideration, and weigh up how much you want to be published against how much your story is changing. Hopefully, your story is good enough that the edits will be minor!

Stage 4: Book creation

This involves quite a lot of administration, usually involving external services. The big publishing houses will have in-house copy-editors and cover-artists, and it’s rare that the author is involved here. With a smaller indie press, more of this work is done externally, and there’s more chance for the author to be involved.

  • Copyedit & proofread (again!).
  • Typeset – and you’ll usually get a PDF proof at this point to check on the typesetting.
  • Cover produced.
  • Manuscript sent to printers, and – if you’re doing hard copy – a proof is produced.

Stage 5: Publication!

Hard copies get distributed to shops, and records get created in electronic stores. You’ll be given a release date and whatever copies you’re entitled to; you may get paid at this stage if it’s a flat fee, or if you’re getting royalties then they will trickle in. And you get the wonderful satisfaction of seeing your book in print or on the screen; it’s out there for everyone to read.

And if you’ve got this far, congratulations! You’ve got a piece of your writing published.

Via: https://www.dystopianstories.com/five-stages-publishing-book/

5 Simple Ways to Make Your Manuscript Solicited

4609827016_1bb49bf82c_z

You may be familiar with the phrase “we don’t take unsolicited manuscripts” on publishers’ websites. It can be a disappointing sight for an aspiring writer yearning to be published. Fortunately, publishers are always soliciting; you just need to know how to get your work into that category.

1. LITERARY AGENTS

While many publishers don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, some literary agents do. Literary Agents are there to connect writers with publishers and to help handle the legal documents regarding copyright (including print, film and radio) and royalties.

2. COMPETITIONS

Entering writing competitions is a great way to get your name and work in front of publishers. Winners and those short-listed are often named in literary media—the same media that publishers read.

In addition to the publicity, some competitions also offer publication as a prize. The publication could be in media such as a magazine or newspaper, or it could be as a printed anthology or book. Manuscript competitions and awards have also helped many first-time writers publish.

3. PITCHING

Publishers and editors may not have time to read manuscripts, but they do have time to listen to pitches. A pitch is a short, sweet and powerful way of sharing your manuscript. If you can capture the essence and selling points of your story in a quick and compelling way, you could get someone willing to read your whole manuscript.

4. PORTFOLIO

A portfolio is a collection or sample of your work. If you are a long-prose writer it might be beneficial to work on your short-prose skills, as portfolios usually aren’t made of novels. Portfolios can be attached to your resume, but if you want a publisher to notice you, you want it out in the world.

5. NETWORKING

Lastly, but certainly not least, you need to know the right people. If you want a publisher to hear about your manuscript, you want to tap into that publishing network. Pitch your manuscript to the right people, and they might know a publisher who could be interested and pass it along.

For more tips and tricks on how to get your foot through that door, visit the rest of the article here: http://writersedit.com/5-simple-ways-take-manuscript-unsolicited-solicited/

Book Rights And Wrongs And Traps To Avoid

Book-Rights-And-Wrongs-And-Traps-To-Avoid-1

Never give away your book rights for nothing

There are so many avenues available now for authors to publish a book.

At the top of the list, of course, are the five big publishers and their myriad of imprints, followed by medium and small press publishers.

Then there is a long list of hybrid publishers, micro-publishers, vanity publishers and lastly, untrustworthy charlatans.

For a new author, it can be daunting to know which is the best avenue to take, especially for those not confident in taking the self-publishing route.

Whenever an author considers using a publisher, the most critical element is making a decision will be in regard to the author’s book rights. Whether in part or in total, publishers will always want the rights to a book before they publish.

Generally, if a publisher is offering an advance, then it is logical to expect that an author would agree to sign over the rights to a book. But advances are a rarity in today’s publishing world.

For new authors, the far more common occurrence is that a publisher will demand the rights, but offer no money in return. In an increasing number, due to a lack of financial resources, small publishers ask for money from the author, to cover a part or even all of the publishing costs. This is definitely a danger signal.

Signing up with a publisher might sound exciting, but signing away the rights to your book without knowing how financially sound a publisher is, or checking on how successful they have been, can lead to serious problems.

Almost every day there is news of publishers going out of business, and this is when trouble can really strike. Getting your book rights back could take years, and that may even be optimistic.

So what can a new author do to avoid making a huge mistake? Find out here: https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/book-rights-and-wrongs-and-traps-to-avoid/