Writing a good query or cover letter will demonstrate to an editor or publisher just how serious you are about your work and getting it published.
There is a small difference between query and cover letters. A query letter is used to show an editor that your work is different and fresh. It is an introduction of you and your writing. It is a selling tool. A cover letter is a reminder that the editor requested your work. It accompanies your piece and is essentially a revamp of your query letter. Both follow the same guidelines.
The format you should use is that of a business letter. Use a standard font size and type, such as 12 point Times New Roman. Your letter should be single spaced with double spaces between paragraphs. Leave a one-inch margin on all sides.
If possible, find out the name of the editor. Address your query or cover letter directly to them. This could keep your work out of the slush pile and it allows the editor see that you have done your research.
In the body of the letter, you should tell the editor what you are sending and, briefly, why it is different and exciting. Give a short bio, no more than four sentences. Keep in mind this is the first writing sample the editor will see! Cite any works you have published and in which publication. Let the editor know that you have clips available and give information on how they can get copies of these clips. Give the editor every possible way to contact you; address, phone number, fax, and e-mail.
Wrap up your letter with a polite closing. Don’t forget to thank the editor for considering your work!
And always, always include a SASE!
This is a very basic, but important, tool for a writer. Learn how to utilize it to your advantage.