Friday, September 27, 2019

is a cover letter a query?

My question is about the agents out there who do not ask for a query letter, but instead request cover letters; are they the same thing? Can I just send them my query, or do I need to master a whole new genre of introductory letter? As always, thanks for all you do for us anxious woodland creatures.

Generally: yes and yes.

I did a search for agencies and publishers using the phrase "cover letter" and there were several.

In each case, cover letter meant the letter with the submission which is what a query letter is.

University presses used "cover letter" a lot.
They also list what they want the cover letter to include.
Of course, you know to follow the directions.

Bottom line: you don't need a cover and a query. One letter can be the template for what an agent wants to see.


E.M. Goldsmith said...

I thought maybe a cover letter went with non-fiction book proposals in lieu of the query letter for fiction. Interesting. I will keep this in mind.

By the way, it is all I can do to NOT query right now, but I am waiting on my last beta read to complete and know there are some minor tweaks I will still have to make from middle-of the night hysterical texting about continuity bits I totally missed.

From previous experience, for first time query writers, do not query until your full, well-revised book is ready to send. What will happen is you will get that full request. Following the hysterical, irrational happiness that follows, you will be all like I just need to make one more revision. It shouldn't take more than a week. Six months later...the opportunity has gone. Sorry for being off-topic. So nervous about this next jump into the query trenches due to the scars obtained from the last.

Good luck, OP, with your query/cover letter.

Annalisa Crawford said...

The term 'cover letter' is common here in the UK, where a submission package is usually a synopsis, the first 3 chapters and a cover letter to tie it all together - therefore the letter doesn't need to be so detailed, just a paragraph or so to introduce the rest of the submission.

Brenda said...

Best wishes, EM.

The different format I wonder about are the query forms we fill out with some agencies. So far, I just break my query letter up to fill the necessary boxes. Why don’t they just have a query letter box?

KariV said...

I queried a UK agency that specifically stated they wanted a "cover letter" and NOT a standard query. For them, I tweaked my query to be more of a business letter. More formal. I mostly rearranged my paragraphs. From my experience with UK agents, there is a difference between a cover letter and an American query - they usually want all the book details up front and often ask for themes. BUT they are agents just the same and are looking for something saleable. If your query is getting requests from American agents, chances are a UK agent will be interested even if your query isn't formatted exactly as a cover letter. They are, after all, practically the same document serving the same purpose.

Janet Reid said...

Brenda If I were to guess, I'd say cause a lot of writers don't have all the parts of the query in their query. Unless prompted, they don't include word count, or comps, or bio.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Elise... All the very best to you. You've certainly done your due diligence. Your talent and hard work is to be commended. I'm eager to see what waits around the corner for you.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I was just looking at Baen Publishing's website the other day, and they ask for a cover letter for their science fiction submissions. Of course, they do a lot of things a little oddly anyway!

Craig F said...

A long, long time ago, whilst beating my head against a thriller query** I came across an agency that wanted a cover letter, query, synopsis, and 15. I figured it was a leftover from the last millennium, snail mail. The other thought was that they were in need of people to suck up to them. I stayed away from any that requested cover letters after that, just in case it was the second reason. I am not one to suck up to people I do business with.

** That query never came together and I tabled the book. I decided to write something a little simpler, to make query writing easier. I found out that I can't write simple.

With that I bid you a pleasant weekend.