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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Why Word Count Doesn’t Matter

It’s like “the thing” every writer talks about in reference to writing… word count. Have you ever had a conversation about a project you are working on or another writer is working on without asking or telling about the word count? Impossible, right?

It’s always about the word count whether it is self-imposed or a count the publisher set. And it’s sad, because there is so much emphasis put on word count, a writer can be fooled into thinking it matters, when really it doesn’t.

Oh boy. I know I pissed off people with that statement. lol… Good, because what I have to say next is important, so listen up.

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Context 24: Why Conventions are so Important

Denise Wyant, Me, Lesley Conner and Nora Azzi
Anyone who is serious about writing should be serious about attending conventions, especially writing conventions. I’ve gone to several and plan on expanding to more. This time around I went with three other writing friends of mine to Columbus, Ohio to attend Context 24, which is a convention for horror, science fiction, and fantasy writers. The best part is you don’t even have to be into the horror, science fiction or fantasy genres to get something out of this convention, because it’s main goal is to appeal to the writer.
I took several workshops one exploring the importance of details in a story and the other talking about the business side of writing. The rest of the time I spent going to panels with titles like Blogging for Beginners, Anthologies for Beginners, Balance in Writing and in Life, Writing for Different Mediums/Venues,  and Horror: Books and Movies.
Michael Knost and the Knosty girls!
When I wasn’t learning, I had a great meeting great writers including: Linnea Sinclair, Michael Knost, Lawrence Connolly, Tim Waggoner, Michael West, Shelby Rhodes, and many more! And even editors such as David Hartwell, and Jason Sizemore!
Conventions are fun, but they are also important for learning more about the craft of writing as well as meeting writers, editors and publishers. I enjoyed every second of my time in Columbus and look forward to doing even more in the future! The only downside was that it didn’t last longer.
Denise Wyant, Maurice Broaddus, Michael Knost, Jerry Gordon, Me, Nora Azzi, Lesley Conner, Shelby Rhodes