Write A Cover Letter Or A Query Letter: The Basics

by | Mar 5, 2008 | Cover Letters, Editing And Editors, Literary Agents, Query Letters, Submit Your Writing | 14 comments

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Write A Cover Letter Or A Query Letter: The Basics

If you’re thinking of writing a cover letter or a query letter, you’re taking the first steps toward getting your writing published!

The prospect of writing cover letters and query letters often sends writers into a state of anxiety. But we’ve been helping writers compose cover letters and query letters since 1994! What follows is a basic introduction to cover and query letters.

For advanced strategies and techniques, visit our Free Writers Tool Kit!

What is the difference between a cover letter and a query letter?

What is a cover letter? The term cover letter is generally used to refer to the letter of introduction that accompanies your poetry and prose submissions to literary journals and magazines.

What is a query letter? A query letter is a type of cover letter that is geared specifically toward literary agents. Literary agents represent book projects and sell them to publishing houses. They rarely represent short stories or poetry.

In the freelance writing industry, the term query letter can be used to refer to a letter that is pitching a nonfiction article to an editor at a news magazine or other periodical. But in the book publishing industry, query letter describes letters that are sent to pitch books to literary agents.

What do cover letters and query letters have in common?

Literary agents and editors want concise, clear information. They don’t want to be distracted by gimmicks or bogged down by long-winded explanations.

Both cover and query letters are letters of introduction. Both contain author bios and basic information about what is being submitted.

The primary difference is that, while query letters include a synopsis of the project in question (in order to entice an agent to read more), cover letters do not.

A cover letter presumes that the editor who receives it will read the enclosed/attached materials.

A query letter must entice a literary agent to read the attached/enclosed materials or must entice said agent to request more pages of a manuscript.

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How long is a cover or query letter?

One page. Single-spaced. And, no, your letter is not the exception that can be longer than one page. 🙂

What’s the bottom line with cover and query letters?

Editors at literary magazines or literary agents may or may not read your cover letter, but you’ll still need to follow their submission guidelines carefully in order to be taken seriously.

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to create an amazing cover or query letter. Our free articles will help. Be sure to check out our Free Publishing Tool Kit!

Here are some other important posts about cover and query letters:

Cover And Query Letters: Striking The Right Tone In Your Writing

The Anatomy of A Query Letter

How To Handle Salutations

Top Query Letter Mistakes: Avoid These Amateur Errors

Fan Fiction: Should You List Fan Fiction Awards And Publications In Your Writing Bio?

Query Fail: How NOT To Write A Query Letter

Query Letters: When (Not) To Talk About Multiple Books, Including Sequels, A Series, And Other Projects

Self-Publishing: When (Not) To Include Your Self-Published Book In Your Query Letter:

How To Write And Send E-Queries

Want help writing a cover letter or a query letter? Contact Writer’s Relief!

14 Comments

  1. SANDRA RACHEL DAMANI

    I wish to place on record my thanks to Writer’s Relief.
    The guidelines were helpful and answered a few queries that I had.

    Reply
  2. Ez Assignment Writing Help

    A cover letter and a query letter are quite different. For poetry and short stories, most markets don’t have you query, just send the material, sometimes with a cover letter.

    It can be brief and to the point.

    Dear Mr. Editorname,

    Enclosed is my 2500 word story “Ralph,” about a man who vomits for a living. I hope you’ll agree the readers of Magazinename will enjoy it.

    Thanks for your consideration.

    Reply
  3. Academic Writing

    The term introductory letter is by and large used to allude to the letter of presentation that goes with your verse and exposition entries to abstract diaries and magazines. In the independent written work industry, the term inquiry letter can be utilized to allude to a letter that is pitching a verifiable article to an editorial manager at a news magazine or other periodical. An inquiry letter must allure a scholarly operator to peruse the joined/encased materials or must tempt said specialist to ask for more pages of an original copy.

    Reply
  4. assignmentwritingservice

    Presentation is key esp the cover letter design, fonts and presentation. More important is the person you are communicating.

    Reply
  5. EssayWritingLab

    We tend to tell one thing to all clients who contact EssayWritingLab with this question – all you have to do is know what to name the letter, and the rest is pretty much the same.

    Reply
  6. buy thesis

    Presentation is resolution esp the cover bird design, fonts or presentation. More necessary is the man or woman ye are communicating.

    Reply
  7. Emirates loan

    It’s the very first thing your potential employer will read, and 99% of the time it’s the last. Your chance to show that you know what they need, that you can match those needs, and that you can present yourself in a manner appropriate to their company. Only if that matches will they normally turn the page and start reading your CV

    Reply
  8. Folic Acid

    Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking about writing a very comparable post over the last couple of weeks, I’ll probably keep it short and sweet and link to this instead if thats cool. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Writer's Relief Staff

      We’re glad you found our article informative, and you’re welcome to link to our post.

      Reply
  9. چمن مصنوعی

    A cover letter and a query letter are quite different. For poetry and short stories, most markets don’t have you query, just send the material, sometimes with a cover letter.

    It can be brief and to the point.

    Dear Mr. Editorname,

    Enclosed is my 2500 word

    Reply
  10. henry jones

    Thanks for providing the news for cover and query letters. I really found this awesome. Thanks alot 🙂

    Reply
  11. writingessay

    Really appreciated tips about writing a cover before reading this basic I was too many mistakes thanks for sharing this helpful content.

    Reply
  12. perfecttime

    Thanks for providing the news for cover and query letters. I really found this awesome.

    Reply
  13. jamaima cyrus1

    Thanks for providing the news for cover and query letters. I really found this awesome.

    Reply

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