- On September 29, 2020
As of now, I’m putting the final touches on The Vermicular File, and it feels great to have the finish line in sight. Over the past few days I’ve completed Chapter 13 — the one where the big climactic confrontation occurs — then penned a concluding chapter, tying up loose ends. This week I’m working on proofing and final edits. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, my next blog entry will be about having a COMPLETED MANUSCRIPT ready to go! I can’t wait!
That means I’ll soon be making the rounds looking for a literary agent, so I also need to produce something else: a cover letter. That’s a one-page introduction that sells not only the book but also me as a writer. To be successful, I’ll need a top-notch summary of the work, an explanation of its market appeal and a brief bio highlighting my past literary accomplishments. Sounds simple, right? Just like composing the synopsis was!
But no, it isn’t. With a cover letter, the pressure is high because this is the FIRST thing a potential agent will read, so it has to be killer: engaging, informative, compelling. If the cover letter is boring or stilted or full of errors, it doesn’t matter how terrific the manuscript is because it won’t be reviewed. Bad cover letters = the whole package goes into garbage, agent moves on to the next proposal. And trust me, there are PLENTY of proposals out there competing for agents’ and publishers’ attention!
Impress an agent with a great cover letter, and he or she will continue on, checking out the rest of the materials. That means finding the correct tone (funny, conversational, formal, introspective) as well as choosing the right words. I don’t want to be too folksy with an agency that prizes professionalism, or come across as aloof to a firm wanting its writers to feel like family. This requires doing research on the agents I’m pitching; it’s a time-consuming step but is absolutely vital if I want to achieve my goal. Luckily, the internet makes it a lot easier than it was in the ‘old days’ when I was finding my first agent!
That’s where I’m off to now — hopeful that a whole new world is about to open up. Next month, I’ll give an update on how ‘Agent Quest: 2020’ is going!