Submitting to a Publisher: Cover Letters

Writing a Cover Letter

A good letter could help your work stand out from the pile and increase your chances of your work being published. The format and focus for a letter will depend entirely on what you’re submitting to, but above all: be professional and concise.

Do include:

  • Evidence of your commitment to writing. Steer clear of statements like ‘I was born to write.’ Instead, give examples of how you have committed yourself to your writing.

  • Any relevant professional development opportunities. Use your common sense and ask whether something is really relevant. Including anything tenuous will be a waste of valuable space and time.

  • 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, and then check them again!

Don’t include:

  • 'My friends/children/colleagues love my work and think I should be published'. Your nearest and dearest are not necessarily going to give honest feedback. Allow the person reading your work to make their own decision.

  • Your life history. Try to keep your submission as concise as possible.

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

  • Anything too gimmicky. 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.

If you would like further advice about submitting funding proposals contact Cultural Enterprise Office for information about their next ‘Making Applications and Proposals’ workshop.

A note on email submissions:

It may be quicker and easier to submit your work by email, but don’t be tempted to skip corners or take risks with your submission. You should follow the same guidelines as above, but also remember:

  • Do not copy several publishers into the same email. This will appear rude and the publisher will know immediately that you haven’t properly researched or tailored your submission to them.

  • Don’t attach more work than necessary. This is true of paper submissions, but the temptation is even higher when showcasing your work is a simple click away. If you do this, there is a risk that a publisher or agent will ignore your submission or block communication from you entirely.