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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Novel Submission: The Query Package

Untitled-2After many years, my novel is finally done, now comes the hardest part yet… it’s time to submit it. I have to admit, I’d rather write another entire novel from scratch then do what comes next, but paraphrasing Theodore Roosevelt, “anything worthwhile never comes easy.”

This summer I’ve been taking the first steps in getting my novel ready for submission by writing a kicks cover letter (or sometimes called a query letter) and a handful of synopses (because it’s not good enough to have just one synopsis, but that’s another post!).

The first step I took in writing the cover letter and synopsis was to do research and see how the professionals were doing it. And I was also lucky enough to take a workshop about cover letters and synopses from science fiction author Gray A. Braunbeck last September. After a frustrating search, I finally managed to find my notes from his workshop. Yay!

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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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Fight Scenes All in One Document

fight-scene-screenshotI had a request to put my Fight Scene blog series from my notes from Jonathan Maberry workshop of writing kick ass fight scenes into one document. So I combined all five posts to one pdf file. Feel free to download it and use at your leisure.

Fight Scenes Full Document

Enjoy and feel free to share!

Fight Scenes Part 5: Psychological Warfare

Whew! We made it to number five! If you missed the other four parts of this fight scene series you can catch up Fight Scenes Part 1: An Introduction, Fight Scenes Part 2: Physical Differences, Fight Scenes Part 3: Hand to Hand Combat, and Fight Scenes Part 4: Weapons. Here is the last, but certainly not the least installment of the series. Check out how to get the upper hand with messing with people’s heads, or how a fight can mess with a your (main/other) characters head.

Something to remember... When you fail to do something in a fight, it can be a serious psychological blow.

The arrogance of power assumes they will always be successful and can’t be stopped. They also feel entitled to seize anything they can take.

Some psychological elements are…

  • Experience
  • Temperament
  • Desire/ intent
  • Mental state
  • Emotional state

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Fight Scenes Part 4: Weapons

Missed the fist three parts? Check out Fight Scenes Part 1: An Introduction, Fight Scenes Part 2: Physical Difference, and Fight Scenes Part 3: Hand to Hand Combat. Now let’s talk a little about weapons. These notes focus mostly on unconventional weapons or what Jonathan Maberry called natural weapons.

Weapons

The more a character knows how to use natural weapons the better he’ll be.

Types of Weapons…

  • Core Body Techniques
  • Surrogate Weapons
  • Actual Weapons

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Fight Scenes Part 3: Hand to Hand Combat

So far we have looked at Fight Scenes Part 1: An introduction and Fight Scenes Part 2: Physical Differences now lets get into the really fun stuff… hand to hand combat. My notes are more geared toward getting out of a fight and how touch can be important in a fighting situation. So without further delay…

Ways to Get out of a Fight…

Rule #1: The more injury you make the least able the attacker is able to attack.

A hit to the nose can end a fight to a non-experienced fighter (which even a child can do).

Things a hit to the nose does to a person…

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