Letters of Application and Submission Letters: A brief guide

Most writers will have to write a letter of application or submission letter at some stage in their career. A good letter could increase your chances of your novel being published, or funding secured. There is no set format for writing these letters, but there are a few things which you should take in to account. Most importantly you should ensure the letter is both professional and concise. Whoever is reading your letter will almost certainly have many letters to read, and they will not want to trawl through pages of irrelevant information to find out what they need to know. Here are some of the things you should include in a letter, and some things that you definitely should not.

Do include

• Evidence that you are committed to writing. Try to steer clear of statements like ‘I was born to write.’ Instead demonstrate how you have committed yourself to your writing.

• Any professional development opportunities you have taken up which are relevant to your writing. Use your common sense here; anything too tenuous will appear unprofessional.

• Everything requested in the submission guidelines. This may sound obvious, but many people send applications which are missing vital pieces of information. Read the guidelines, then read them again, and always double check that you have included everything you have been asked for. You should also make sure that you have addressed the letter to the correct person (note that it not advisable to address a letter ‘Dear Sir’, there are a lot of women in publishing and grants administration!).

Don’t include

• ‘My friends/children/colleagues love my work and think I should be published’. People you know are not necessarily going to give honest feedback. This is also true of people who work closely with children. Yes, your primary or nursery class may respond very positively to your work, but they may also be responding to your enthusiasm. Allow the person reading your work to make their own decision.

• Your life history. Try to keep your submission as brief and professional as possible. At this stage, the person reading the submission is unlikely to care about whether you have been married, divorced or how many children you have.

• How many times you have been turned down by publishers/agents. This is likely to cast doubt on your abilities.

• Anything too gimmicky. In most cases it is best to be as professional as possible. Your ideas, synopsis or manuscript should be enough to demonstrate your creativity.

For further information on submitting information to publishers we recommend that you read the Writers and Artists Yearbook: www.writersandartists.co.uk

If you would like further advice about submitting funding proposals contact Cultural Enterprise Office:  www.culturalenterpriseoffice.co.uk/website for information about their next ‘Making Applications and Proposals’ workshop.