Novel Submission: Writing an Effective Cover Letter

516TFGYGF9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_We talked about Novel Submission: The Query Package, but now let’s get more specific and discuss how to actually write a cover letter (and FYI, writing a novel cover letter is different than a short story cover letter, in fact there are some publications that don’t even require a cover letter for short story submissions).

The following post is an accumulation of what I learned from Gary A Braunbeck’s worksop on cover letters and synopses, research I’ve done, and my own observations as I wrote the cover letter for my novel.

Here are some important things to keep in mind as you begin to write the cover letter (or what some call a query letter)…

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Writing Groups: Not for All Writers All of the Time

One of the first pieces advice I received as a young writer (about eight or nine years ago now) from multiple sources (mostly from writing books and sage advice from published authors) was that to be successful at writing one must join a writing group. I was told writing groups would make me a better writer by giving me a place to talk and learn about writing as well as put me around other like-minded individuals for the support I needed to keep writing.

I took that advice to heart and joined a writers group two years after I began my cool hobby of writing, because I wanted to take my cool hobby to the next level.

It was the best decision of my life.

Until that defining moment of joining my first writing group, writing was a fancy. Something I did in my spare time. I had big ideas of being published, but it was a pie in the sky kind of thing. Joining a writing group made me realize that writing isn’t as romantic as I first thought. It’s lot of hard work (and a building of strict discipline and great effort), but work that had a hell of a pay off in the end (and I’m not talking about being published).

Through the help of my new writing friends, I learned that writing was not just something to do or some passing fancy for me, it was a way of life… my new way of life. And for two years, I went to every single writing meeting religiously (every other Saturday afternoon). And no sickness or excuse would keep me from going (okay, so if I was running a fever I wouldn’t go, but you get the idea).

Then I started getting restless. Something was wrong, very wrong and I didn’t know what it was. The meetings weren’t as fulfilling anymore and more times than not I would come home from a meeting totally frustrated, wondering why I’d wasted hours talking about writing and other things that had nothing to do with writing (because my writing group did love to get off topic a lot).

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The Art, Craft and Business of Writing Fiction

Here are some notes I took from a workshop I did by Linnea Sinclair when I went to Context a few weeks ago. I found them helpful and thought I would share. 


Are you a writer or author?
Writer= isn’t serious about being published
Author=  has published works
Writing is an art and craft, but it is also a BUSINESS!
 

All About the Art and Craft


  • You have to couple good writing with original thought.
  • Read as much as you can of what is available in the genre that you write and other genres as well.
  • Too many writers stop at the art, at the muse. Move past this and get into the craft of writing.
  • Craft is the only way to tame the muse.
  • Art lives in the emotions, but only craft can give your words life.
  • Craft allows you to refine your words.
  • Decent craft has good plot, logic, characterization and conflict.
  • It is the author’s job to manipulate the emotions of the reader.

All About the Business

  • Network! Meet and greet as many as people you can that will help you move forward as an author this includes other writers, editors, agents and publishers.
  • Do your homework! A subscription to Publisher’s Lunch is essential in this endeavor. It is a bible of information for finding agents and publishers. If you know what’s being published you can find how published it and what agents are looking for.
  • Build up your resume
  • Beware of the trend in New York. If you want to be picked up by big name publishers use New York as your source of information for what’s wanted on the market.
  • Have an elevator pitch ready to sell yourself. An elevator pitch is being able to pitch your story in the time it would take to ride an elevator.
  • Know your read-a-like.What current author do you write like? You should know this to give as a pitch to potential agents and publishers.
  • Analyze your own writing to discover where it fits and makes sure it’s in your query letter.
  • Be prepared to market your own work. In fact when submitting a novel manuscript, you should have a marketing plan already written up.

Sites to Check Out!

Must have books!

I also highly recommend her online classes as well. You can check them out at linneasinclair.com/news.html