Friday, August 13, 2010

Cover Letter Hell

There are a zillion online articles and blogs and websites and classes that try to teach how to write a query letter or the cover letter for a submission. But the people who need those most are the ones who don't bother learning. (And likely are not reading this blog, I'm just preaching to the choir.) One self-described "grumpy" agent keeps us entertained with some of the worst lines from query letters.

It's especially fun for other agents and editors to read, because we've all gotten very similar stuff. (Please, please don't tell me about your goat farm, or your personal sexual hangups, or how you got the idea for this story while cleaning up after your puking child.)

It cannot be said enough - make the letter professional, write only about your story and not your personal life. And keep your ego in check.


Barbara Elsborg said...

I remember - long long ago, after getting yet another formal rejection from a literary agency in the UK, I parceled up the first three chapters yet again and fired up a terse letter something on the lines of - I don't suppose for an instant you'll want this. You'll just say no along with 'just because we don't want it doesn't mean there isn't someone who will'. I know I'm wasting a stamp, wasting your time and wasting my life but here it is, the first three chapters of the novel I've slaved over for years. Stamped addressed envelope included, just send it straight back. I'll brace myself. Don't worry that I'll cry for hours- again. I'll get over the disappointment eventually. Not quite ready to slit my wrists. Of course I won't hold you responsible.
My mother might. She's licensed to carry a gun.
Yours truly....

Needless to say - I got another rejection.

ECPI Editors said...

Oh lawdy, I'm very thankful you didn't write to EC like that! But I can understand the frustration.