Your first step in getting a publisher's attention is writing a publisher cover letter. It’s a simple yet powerful letter that can influence the future of your book.
In this article, you’ll learn about what a publisher's cover letter is, why it's important, and how to put one together.
You’ll also review a sample cover letter for more guidance when you create your own!
What is a publisher cover letter?
A publisher cover letter has the simple job of introducing you and your book to a publishing company.
In your book cover letter, you will state who you are and your experience. Not unlike a cover letter for a job. It’s essentially your elevator pitch.
But keep in mind that it’s also a letter to a publisher that can set your manuscript apart from the dozens of other submissions that publishers receive!
When do you need a book cover letter?
If you’re thinking of submitting your manuscript to different publishers then a book cover letter is an essential part of your submission package. This is because book publishing is a business.
And ideally, you want your cover letter to explain to agents or recruiters how your experience and your book will help their business grow.
Outside of the book publishing world, cover letters are also an important aspect when submitting manuscripts to journals.
What to include in a letter to a publisher
Constructing a publisher cover letter is like baking a cake. There are instructions to follow and you can’t write too much or too little or else the letter won’t be well received. Add too much salt or too little vanilla to a cake and it throws off the taste.
To write an ideal cover letter make sure you follow these instructions and include the following elements.
1. Start with an attention-grabbing introduction
The introduction of your book proposal cover letter is the most important part. According to Blue Pencil Agency, the first part of your letter should give details of your book such as title, genre, and word count.
After that, you want to hook them in with your second sentence. This sentence should describe the most interesting aspect of your book.
Following the hook, you’ll want to summarize the main points of your book by giving an intriguing synopsis.
You don’t want to share every aspect of your book, but instead, entice publishers to want to read more.
2. Include why you wrote your book and what makes your book interesting
Once you’ve got the publisher's attention, you can explain why you wrote your book and what makes it different. Use this section of your publisher cover letter to share your unique why.
What special experiences or knowledge do you have that motivated you to write this book? What are you hoping your audience will take away from the book?
Also, explain how your book differs from other books in its genre.
Are there more diverse characters? Does your book take a unique perspective for your niche?
Explain how your book stands out.
3. Share who your book is for
In addition to explaining your great storyline, you’ll want to mention your target audience. Who is your book for? Who is meant to read it?
This knowledge helps publishers when considering how marketable your book is.
4. Share your background as a writer
This part of your letter will focus on you as a writer. Whether you’re a new author, self-published, or have been previously published you’ll want to focus on different aspects of your career.
Here’s what to include in this section based on your experience.
If you’ve never been published, your book cover letter will focus on other written work and your fan base.
For instance, if you have a blog or group of followers on your mailing list you can mention that in your letter to a publisher.
If you don’t have a following you can share how your unique expertise makes you a credible writer.
For example, your can share how your field experience as an anthropologist helped you to build a more realistic and intriguing storyline for your historical fiction novel.
If you’ve self-published before, you want to share about the success of your self-published book. Important things to share include rankings and feedback from readers.
Previously published authors
If you’ve previously published don’t be humble, share your achievements. Use this opportunity to share the success of your book.
Mention how many copies you sold, along with sharing some of the top reviews and endorsements.
Also, include how you’ve built a fan base or a following from your previous book.
5. Don't forget to add your contact details
To end your book proposal cover letter you’ll want to thank publishers for their time and include your contact details.
Make sure to include your name, address, telephone number, and email address. Without your contact information publishers can't contact you to move forward.
These key components are the most critical elements of your letter. Use these tips to increase the chances of your letter being read.
No more than one page
With the large volume of requests that publishers receive on a weekly basis, many publishers don't have the time to read lengthy requests. Keeping your book proposal cover letter to one page helps you to write concise and insightful information.
Aim to write around five paragraphs
To help keep your book cover letter to one page it’s best to write five paragraphs. By doing so you can avoid writing unnecessary information.
Don't make your book sample a part of the cover letter
When writing a cover letter for book submission, it can be tempting to want to include a sample of your book.
However, a publisher's cover letter is meant to be an introduction to your book and who you are as an author.
If you do include a book sample, it should be a separate document.
A sample proposal letter
In order to demonstrate how to put all the previous information together, below is an example publisher cover letter for a book submission.
Dear (Insert the name of publisher),
My name is Susie Que and I’m the author of the book Climbing to the Top, a 60,000-word non-fiction book. My book is an inspiring and impactful story that focuses on how rock climbing some of the most dangerous mountains taught me how to become stronger and how to excel in life.
This book will challenge you to examine your own fears and personal dreams and help you find the strength and resilience you need to achieve them. In this book, I provide the tools you need to move away from your comfort zone, face your fears and triumph over any obstacle.
What makes this book valuable is that I draw from my personal life experiences climbing over 30 summits. I did this while overcoming medical issues as well as mental health challenges. The surprising part is I'm over 40 years old, a wife, and a mother to two children.
My book is relatable to mothers, and women in their 40s and older who think that it's too late for them to have the success they desire.
I currently have a blog with over 100,000 readers and have been a guest on podcasts such as Ambitious Women, and Fearless Women.
Along with this, I currently have 300,000 followers on Instagram, and 120,000 subscribers on YouTube. I have a strong base of supporters and fans that will be eager to read Climbing to the Top.
Thank you for reading my letter. Attached are copies of the first three chapters of my book. If you’re interested in moving forward you can contact me at (insert phone number) or by email at ( insert email).
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Write a cover letter that publishers will love!
A cover letter for book submission has one main purpose. Your purpose is to get publishers interested in your book and have them believe in your capacity as an author.
You achieve this interest by hooking them in with the intriguing introduction in the first paragraph. Keep them captivated by sharing the most interesting details of your book.
Then you share your expertise as a writer and your experience in the field. And always end the letter with gratitude and your contact information.