Is it Crap..Cover Letters...Four

August 1, 2005

Miss Snark
Mayor Mike's Metropolis,

Dear Ms. Snark:

MISS Snark. Miss Snark is relentlessly NOT PC.
If you know someone uses Miss or Dr or Great Grand Poobah, use it.
Otherwise Ms is fine.

I have perused your webpage extensively and would like to submit "Executive Lunch" for your consideration. Please find included both a synopsis and the first three chapters per your guidelines. Here is a quick teaser from Executive Lunch

You're bringing me lunch? Yum. Oh wait. you mean it's a ....novel? Book proposal? poem?
tell me what it is upfront. Otherwise I'm clueless as I read the teaser.

And I hate hate hate that "perused your webiste extensively" only cause it either means I'm so damn witty you bookmarked me, or I was so damn unclear you had to read the thing six times to figure out what I wanted.

Generally we both know you're the writer and I'm the agent. We know you've got pages and you want my attention. You can skip to the good part right away: whatcha got??

Sedona is given the opportunity of a lifetime: play an up-and-coming executive with all the trappings of wealth with someone else footing the bill. The catch: find out who is stealing computer equipment and charity checks before the criminals find out that the program is being debugged. Unfortunately, Sedona is better at writing computer code than deciphering political vitriol, and if she doesn't compile the clues quickly, her tests won't be the only things dying. By the time Sedona puts two and two together, the man that hired her has disappeared and her friend Turbo, able to put together a clue or two himself, is also gone. It's time to change the name of the game and soon, because if she doesn't, her friends will be shut down for good!

What's with these names!
And what the hell are you talking about here?
Give me six sentences of less than ten words that tell me WHO is doing WHAT to WHOM and why why I should give a rat's ass.

Start with telling me it's fiction so I don't panic.

I have a few credits; they are listed below. Please feel free to email me if you would like to see the full manuscript. If you have questions or suggestions, you may also email them to me. An SASE is included for any reply if this is more convenient. Thank you for your time.

they are listed below? List them here. I'm not going to email you. I'm going to write you a nice note. I don't give out my email address to anyone unless I want to see more than just a partial.

Consider: My writing credits include (being brave enough to submit to Miss Snark's blog). An SASE is enclosed. Thank you for your time and consideration (and the home phone number for George Clooney is underneath this page).

This needs work. LOTS of work. Query letters are a bitch to write. Writers tend to drop a synopsis into the center of it forgetting that characters and why the reader will care about any of this is more important.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Of course you would. What did you actually send? Never send only a cover letter. Send writing pages. Agents want to see how you write the actual work. Even if it's just five pages, send them.

Would be useful to add, "if the agent wants you to" -- I know people who followed this bit of advice (found in some books), and puffed up their queries with three or five pages, and then they had agents rejecting them with a note "please do not send unsolicited materials."

Miss Snark said...

Well, if an agent thinks they can figure out if a novel is good by reading only a query letter and not even a sample page, more power to him/her. You might ask for the winning lottery numbers too cause s/he has an ability to see beyond the page in a way Miss Snark envies.

Frankly rejecting three pages of writing with a cover letter as "unsolicited" is as shortsighted as it comes. It's like rejecting a prospective suitor cause he has the wrong color eyes.

Anonymous said...

well, what happened to requesting the partial? This way, an agent gets a synopsis for free ;)

Miss Snark said...

I don't request partials. I like to read the ms and see what's there. With e-queries, partials are easier to do, but as we know.. Miss Snark is e-resistant...not to be confused with irresistable which she also is, of course.

Anonymous said...

Well, if an agent thinks they can figure out if a novel is good by reading only a query letter and not even a sample page, more power to him/her.

---I thought it was mostly done to discover the concept of the book--if it is an unmarketable, hook-free concept, even the most brilliant writing wouldn't matter, would it?

Miss Snark said...

Brilliant writing trumps all.
I can cough up a concept.
I can cough up a hook ..or ten.
I can't cough up a good novel.
Or a narrative piece of non fiction.
That's your job.

Once you've got pages in my hand, I can read it and see things that might be hooks that you never dreamed of.

I've repositioned a lot of works cause I had fresh eyes and a different vantage point than the author.

I've also repositioned things when editors told me I was insane...but I blame the editors for being shortsighted of course.

Anonymous said...

Then you aren't who I thought you were, :) Because although that person is famous for absolutely refusing to do e-queries, they don't want any sample pages either.

Miss Snark said...

You're actually thinking of looking under Miss Snark's cloak? Eyes front and center bucko.

Go read a book.
Tolstoy should keep you occupied for long enough to refocus you on things that MATTER!!