Cover letter for partials

Miss Snark,
I have recently been asked to submit several partials of my manuscript. What are agents looking for in a cover letter when I send the pages? Anything specific I need to say, or can I just thank them for their request, etc.? Thanks. I visit your site everyday (when I'm taking a writing break).

Sleepless in PA

Dear Miss Yawninski:

I'm very much in favor of sending the query cover letter again with an opening line that says something like "thanks for requesting the first three chapters of Ma and Pa Kettle Meet Godzilla. "

I may have the original query letter lying around but it never hurts to send it again.

Answer any questions the agent asked. It annoys the crap outta me when I've asked some detailed questions and get no response. I instantly suspect shenanigans of course.

And make sure you've included all of your electronic digits and snail trails.

And a twenty dollar bill of course.


Anonymous said...

I always include a copy of their request, either a printout of an email or whatever they sent in my SASE.

I'll recap with my one sentence hook -- "Thank you for asking to see XX, my such and such a kind of novel where Pollyanna meets James Bond."

And yes, if the agent asked any questions, answer them. Then get out fast so they can read your pages.

And I'll include another SASE and let them know they can recycle the pages if I don't want them back. In these days of having to jump through hoops for anything weighing over a pound, it's not worth the postage. Also, I've heard that a lot of editors or agents might be scribbling things on the ms pages that they don't want you to see.

Anonymous said...

Hate to come off as a dork/nitwit, but what did you mean by electronic digits and snail trails?

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

Now I know why I'm not getting an agent--I only include a ten-spot!

Anonymous said...

What about a couple extra liver cookies in case they have a KY of their own. Better safe than sorry.

Anonymous said...

The timing of this response is perfect for me. I could have written the original letter, but didn't. Thanks, Sleepless in PA (a/k/a Yawninski). Thanks, Miss Snark.

BTW, electronic digits = e-mail. Snail trails = mailing address.

Anonymous said...

I have alcohol but no money - will that do?

Mazement said...

There was a story in the "New York Times" a while back about child actors and their parents. It talked about the importance of gift baskets:

"In addition to training, Simmons encourages parents to work to boost their children's visibility. Simmons suggested that Liana take part in one of her marketing ploys — hand-delivering gift baskets to casting directors at the studios. Simmons prepares the baskets, sometimes with muffins and Starbucks coffee. Each displays the participating student's head shots and résumé, and her own. "If I brought it in, they'd say, 'O.K., just leave it there,"' she told me, "but this cute little blond, blue-eyed kid?"


"At the first basket drop at a studio, the assistant at the desk smiled at Liana. She'd clearly seen the cute girls with baskets before. The casting director, however, came out and accepted it awkwardly. At the next stop, the secretary told Liana to place her basket beside the other gift baskets on the casting director's desk, including several still unopened that said, "Happy 2006!"

---Hollywood Elementary (It's moved to the pay section of the site.)

1 - Does this work in the publishing world, too?
2 - If it works, do agents get gift baskets, or does everybody go straight to the publisher?
3 - Miss Snark, if you've been given excess gift baskets and they're just going to get thrown out, can I have one?

Anonymous said...

Oh, my. The same letter again. That makes things a lot easier. Except when they specifically ask for a cover letter highlighting your "pitch" and explaining why you're the best person to write this book. That's when I head downstairs to drink myself silly and bang my head repeatedly against the side of the minivan. What the fuck is a pitch? And I'm the best person to write this freaking story because I'm the one who thought of it, right?


Anonymous said...

If I include two $20's, or maybe a $50 or $100, will my manuscript move to the top of the pile? If I don't send cash, and only include an SASE, do I move to the bottom of the pile, or get shoved into File 13? What exactly is the money for - An incentive to represent my ms? A bribe? A thank you? A tip? Honestly, I'm not trying to be a smart ass, but I'm curious.

Anonymous said...

Exactly, Kis. You're the one who wrote this book, so you're OBVIOUSLY the one best qualified to write it!

Sheesh. Somebody run & get the Clue Gun.

This sort of thing drives me to head banging against the wall. "Gee, Miss Agent, ma'am, I didn't stop to think before I wrote this 100,000 word love story, whether I was the best person to write it. Maybe I should've sent the idea to Nora Roberts? She can sell her own do-lists...I'm so dreadfully sorry it was merely Mrs. No-Name Soccer Mom who wrote this, but unfortunately, it was I..."

You get the drift.

I will not travel down this road to idiocy. Here's the book. I wrote it. Deal with it.


Carrie said...

Thanks for all of the great comments. Much appreciated.

Sleepless in PA

Now, off to take a swig from the gin pail in an effort to catch some Z's.