Friday, February 12, 2010

Cover Me

A few weeks ago, the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal online chapter of RWA invited us to post on their blog. We were asked to provide some insight on what editors really look for and consider in submissions. Something more detailed than the standard checklists; a look into the editor’s mind. So over the next few days, we will share with you here at Redlines and Deadlines what we had to say about cover letters, the first page, “clean” submissions, and an author’s public image.

Cover Me
First Impressions Part One
by Kelli Collins, Editor-in-chief, Ellora’s Cave Publishing Inc.

I read dozens of submission cover letters each month. Well…from those who care to include them, anyway. (Tip #1: Do!) And while the information contained within can be an endless source of amusement, there is such a thing as TMI. (Tip #2: Just because you’re submitting an erotic romance does not mean I want to read scintillating tidbits about your personal sex life. Gah!)

The first and best piece of advice I can offer in regards to cover letter: Keep it simple. I’m looking for specific things in your letter, which include:

Your real name
Your pen name
Book title
Word length
Genre (Tip #3: Know your publisher! EC publishes erotic romance and erotica. Please don’t send me your book of first-person inspirational poetry.)
Short blurb

And that’s it. No, really. An intro is nice, but keep it short. A mention of memberships to writers’ groups is fine, but keep it short. A list of previously published books isn’t necessary, though some authors like to mention other houses that currently publish their work, which is fine by me. And while authors absolutely love to include every contest they’ve entered for the last five years, this is another piece of information most editors skip over. I’m sorry; it’s true. If you must include contest details, limit yourself to first-place wins only. (Tip #4: That fifth-place win might seem impressive…until I discover there were only five finalists. Which means your book was—that’s right—last place.)

Short, sweet, to the point. If you want to make an impression, show me that you appreciate my valuable time by not sending a three-page cover letter intimately explaining how your backyard garden inspired your food-fetish erotica novel. My visual imagery works too well for those kinds of details.

Oh, and Tip #5: Spellcheck. No matter how short and sweet that cover letter is, if it’s filled with errors…I might not bother with the submission.

See you in the slush pile.

1 comment:

Lesley Speller said...

I always struggle with cover letters. They never seem right to me no matter how many ways I phrase and rephrase them. Thanks for the tips!