I was at Listowel Writers' Week recently, gathering information for all you lovely blog readers. And can I just say a big thank you to everyone in the last month who has contacted me to say how useful this blog and my website are to them. I'm glad my small words of encouragement are hitting the mark. And remember - keep the writing faith and never give up!
Back to Listowel - I attended a most interesting panel session on Getting Published, chaired by writing.ie's
, head of the book department at United Agents in London, Irish agent,
, Ciara Doorley, Editorial Director of
and John Walsh from
. Among the topics discussed (many of which I've covered in this blog over the years) was covering letters and how to write them.
Faith gets 50 to 70 submissions a week and says that the cover letter is vital. She reads the submissions with the best cover letter first and incidentally she also said that she much prefers postal submissions . Even after many years of being an agent she still finds her post bag exciting. She said that the covering letter is your calling card - you must spend time on getting it right.
You must put your 1/2 line pitch (covered in this previous blog) in the covering letter. You should also explain (briefly) setting, characters and dramatic conflict. Keep this 'book' bit to one paragraph she suggested.
Edit your covering letter carefully. Both Simon and Faith agreed that it is perfectly acceptable to contact several agents at the same time as long as you are transparent about it. Simon suggested 'If you write like a particular writer, send it to their agent.'
It can take 3 to 4 months for agents to get back to you, so be patient and keep writing in the meantime.
Best of luck with writing your own perfect cover letter!
Yours in writing,