View Full Version : Covering letter

Eddyz Aquila
09-16-2012, 04:21 AM
UK agents routinely request covering letters - what do you write in a covering letter?

I imagine it's quite different from a query letter.

09-16-2012, 06:42 PM
A British covering letter is an American query letter.


Eddyz Aquila
09-16-2012, 06:47 PM
Thank you!

09-16-2012, 06:52 PM
A British covering letter is an American query letter.


From what I've encountered on British literary agency websites, the cover letter is something more basic than the query. They don't want the equivalent of a back page blurb, but only the essentials.

One of the best UK agencies, Conville & Walsh, has a dedicated reader for debut novelists, David Lewellyn. From a link on their website he says the following about the cover letter:

"The covering letter should be no more than a courtesy letter, containing a very short, two-line summary of the manuscript, reference to any other published or unpublished work and relevant personal details. ‘Relevant personal details’ is not meant to include the following: information on the author's writing history from childhood onwards; lists of favourite books and authors; what the neighbours, friends, children and extended family, think of their work; or any obscure information which will hinder the Reader from starting the assessment of the manuscript in hand. Be concise and be professional. The author may complain that this does not allow for an individual approach and does not allow him/her sufficient opportunity for self expression. The manuscript in hand will do that, so let the Reader get to it, as soon as possible. Allow time for the manuscript to talk for you."


So it's a different sensibility than the American approach, emphasizing the Manuscript's writing rather than a pitch. Hope that helps.

Old Hack
09-16-2012, 09:01 PM
Phyllo's right: the UK's covering letter is more like a business letter, while the US's query letter is much more of a sales pitch. The two are quite different.

09-16-2012, 10:52 PM
Just to make things really confusing :D

The last time I queried, there was a British agency I wanted to include in my query rounds. I gave a short introduction, then this:

I hope you enjoy what I have to offer, and that this is acceptable as a covering letter, as I'm not entirely sure how the format differs from an American query letter. Please forgive any Americanisms in my correspondence.

followed by my standard American query. The letter resulted in a request to read the MS, so I don't think they minded the format too much.

Eddyz Aquila
09-17-2012, 11:54 PM
I've inserted a slightly shorter version of the query and my bio immediately afterwards, and kept it professional. No useless details. Kept it simple.

Thanks for the heads up.