View Full Version : Query cover letter?

01-05-2012, 08:54 AM
I've seen a few agents mention something about submitting a query and cover letter in their submission guidelines. What does this mean?? Do they want me to write a cover letter introducing the query? Isn't a query letter basically already a sort of cover letter in itself? If anyone can shed some light on this, I would be totally grateful! :)

Corinne Duyvis
01-05-2012, 03:44 PM
Both a query AND a cover letter? That is genuinely weird. I've never once seen that. Can you quote or link us to the submission guidelines?

01-07-2012, 08:55 PM
Sure, here's what one of them says:

Please include your query and cover letter in the text of your email as for security reasons we often do not open attachments. We regret that we do not accept submissions by snail mail unless specifically requested.
We consider a cover letter to be an especially important tool in presenting your work. In two or three paragraphs, you should articulate the key aspects of the book, including theme, style and approach. A brief synopsis of the book and author credentials should be included.

Any thoughts? Am I misreading this somehow?

01-07-2012, 09:17 PM
Here's another one:

Enclose a cover letter, outline or brief synopsis of the work (with word count if possible), a sample chapter, and a stamped, self-addressed envelope for our response. Please type all of your correspondence and double space everything other than the cover letter. E-mail queries are fine, but keep them brief and make sure your cover letter is in the body of the e-mail.

Old Hack
01-07-2012, 09:34 PM
The first quote you provide implies to me that by "query" they mean "the work that you're querying" (not an entire manuscript--they'll probably detail how much they want to see, but if they don't I'd send the first fifty pages or so); the second sounds like you're querying UK agencies, as the protocols are different here to the US. Instead of asking for a query letter and nothing else, UK agents usually want a sample of your work (usually around fifty pages), a brief synopsis, and a covering letter (which is not the same as a query letter).

01-07-2012, 09:38 PM
They're both located in the US. Also, the work I'm querying is non-fic...

Old Hack
01-07-2012, 09:59 PM
Ah, non-fiction! I should have realised. Sorry.

You query non-fiction in a different way to fiction: you have to write a proposal, which includes an outline, sample chapters, covering letter and so on. You don't write a query for it in the same way you do for fiction. I'm sure it's been discussed elsewhere here.

01-07-2012, 10:07 PM
Thanks Old Hack! I'm still not entirely clear on what they mean by cover letter, though

01-08-2012, 06:47 PM
I think cover letter is basically synonymous with query. At least that is my impression.

"Enclose a cover letter, outline or brief synopsis of the work (with word count if possible), a sample chapter, and a stamped, self-addressed envelope for our response."
-Means to me "include a query, synopsis and sample chapter"

I might be wrong here but if I were to see it from a fiction agent that is what I would assume.

Old Hack
01-08-2012, 07:34 PM
A cover letter isn't the same as a query.

A query letter is designed to sell a book to an agent all on its own. It's the entire package. A cover letter introduces a book proposal package, which would usually include the cover letter, a synopsis, a few sample chapters, and the proposal itself.

In the UK we tend to ask for cover letters plus a writing sample and an outline or synopsis; in the US, for fiction, query letters alone are more usual.

01-10-2012, 08:25 AM
Hmm...so would I be remiss if I sent just my query letter to the first one, and the query plus proposal and sample chapter to the second one? They're both in the US and they both represent fiction and non- fic. I agree, Tromboli, that cover letter is probably synonymous with query in the first example, I just wanted to get a second opinion before submitting anything.