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How to Write a Cover Letter to a Publisher

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Writing a Great Cover Letter Is Key to Publishing Your Manuscript

Are you ready to embark on a thrilling adventure into the world of publishing? Whether you’re a seasoned wordsmith or a budding author, an attractive publishing cover letter is the golden ticket to capturing a publisher’s attention and getting your book on shelves. Though writing a cover letter can be a daunting task, fear not! We’re here to help unravel the mysteries of how to write an engaging, effective cover letter to a publisher.

Once you’ve got yours together, you can submit your cover letter and manuscript to our team here at Atmosphere Press!

A Thoughtful Opening

First, let’s talk about the basics: the salutation. It may be tempting to take the easy road and slap on a standard “To Whom It May Concern,” but this is a chance to personalize the letter and show the publisher you’ve done your homework. Avoid generic greetings that scream “copy and paste,” and instead do some research and address your cover letter to a specific person (usually the acquisitions editor of the publishing house). This will make your letter stand out like a phoenix rising from the ashes!

Generic: To Whom It May Concern,
Personalized: Dear [Acquisitions Editor’s Name],
Example: Dear Ms. Smith,

A Quick Hook

Next, your cover letter should include your name and a brief introduction to yourself and your work. Hook the reader and dazzle them with your passion. Share why you’re interested in their publishing house and why your manuscript is a perfect fit. Be genuine and let your enthusiasm shine through. Remember, you’re not writing a résumé—you’re crafting a tale to bewitch the publisher. It’s important to keep it concise, as publishers receive countless submissions and don’t have time to read lengthy letters, no matter how engaging they may be.

Introduction: My name is [Your Name], and I am thrilled to submit my manuscript for your consideration.
Example: My name is John Doe, and I am an avid fantasy writer excited to share my latest work with Atmosphere Press.

Pitch Your Book!

Now it’s time to weave your writing spells and cast a spellbinding synopsis of your manuscript. Keep it brief but punchy. Highlight the unique and captivating aspects of your story. Avoid spoilers and focus on the plot, characters, and setting. Use descriptive language that paints a vivid picture in the publisher’s mind and leaves them hungering for more.

Then let the publisher know why your manuscript will be a bestseller—cast a confidence charm! Share your target audience, market research, and any promotion ideas you have in mind. Show them you’re not just a one-hit wonder, but a writer who’s willing to put in the effort to make your book a success. Be bold, but not boastful, and let the publisher know you’re ready to rock the literary world with your words.

Blurb: My manuscript is a thrilling tale of adventure set in a world where magic reigns supreme.
Example: My manuscript, The Chronicles of Eldoria, follows the journey of a young mage who must unravel the mysteries of an ancient prophecy to save her kingdom from darkness.

After pitching your book, let the publisher know what makes you the chosen one to pen this tale. Share your writing credentials, awards, and any relevant publishing credits. Don’t worry if you’re a rookie writer without a long list of accolades; you can still work magic by sharing your writing style, your love for the genre, and your unique perspective as an author.

Awards: I have received several awards for my short stories and poetry.
Example: I am the winner of the 2023 Fantasy Writers Guild Short Story Contest.

A Strong Closing Statement

Finally, the closing flourish: end your publishing cover letter with a gracious goodbye. Thank the publisher for their time and consideration and express your sincere interest in their feedback or the opportunity to submit your manuscript for review. Avoid begging or pleading and maintain a professional tone. Leave them with a warm and positive impression, and they’ll be eager to take the next step on the publishing journey with you.

And there you have it—a guide to crafting a cover letter that will charm the socks off of any publisher. Remember, a well-written cover letter is the key to unlocking doors of opportunity in the publishing world. So, channel your inner wordsmith, sprinkle some humor and creativity, and let your cover letter work its magic! With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to enchanting your would-be publisher and getting your work published.

Gratitude: Thank you for considering my submission. I look forward to hearing from you.
Example: Thank you for your time and consideration. I am eager to discuss how The Chronicles of Eldoria could find a home with Atmosphere Press.


Some bonus tips to make your cover letter even more enchanting:

— Avoid using clichés or overused phrases. Be original and let your unique voice shine through.

— Keep it professional. While humor and creativity are encouraged, make sure your cover letter maintains a professional tone and is free from any inappropriate language or jokes.

— Customize each cover letter! Avoid using a generic template and tailor your letter to the publisher you’re submitting to. Research their publishing house, submission guidelines, and recent publications to show that you’ve done your homework.

— Follow submission guidelines. Publishers often have specific guidelines for submitting cover letters and manuscripts; follow these meticulously to show that you’re a professional and detail-oriented writer.

— Proofread, proofread, proofread! Don’t let any sneaky typos or errors break the spell. Double-check your grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and consider asking a trusted friend or fellow writer to review your cover letter as well.

Further, there are plenty of online resources available to help you in writing a cover letter!

Writer’s Digest and The Write Life offer numerous articles, guides, and webinars on various aspects of the publishing process, including crafting effective cover letters.

You could also check out Query Shark, where literary agent Janet Reid critiques real query letters and provides insights into what works and what doesn’t in submissions to agents and publishers, or peruse Manuscript Wish List, a database where literary agents and publishers share their specific manuscript preferences. Writers can browse through the listings to get a sense of what publishers are looking for and tailor their cover letters accordingly.

Still Need Help Writing a Cover Letter?

Strange as it sounds, sometimes writing an effective publishing cover letter is one of the most difficult steps for even the most accomplished writers. What’s more, it’s just one step within the publishing process, alongside choosing the best publisher, ensuring your book is polished, and identifying the best target markets and audience for your book.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, our expert publication team at Atmosphere Press offers free publication consultations to help budding authors take the next step. Schedule yours today!

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Atmosphere Press is a selective hybrid publisher founded in 2015 on the principles of Honesty, Transparency, Professionalism, Kindness, and Making Your Book Awesome. Our books have won dozens of awards and sold tens of thousands of copies. If you’re interested in learning more, or seeking publication for your own work, please explore the links below. 

Atmosphere Press was founded in 2015 on the principles of Honesty, Transparency, Professionalism, Kindness, and Making Your Book Awesome.

We hold true to those principles today.

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