There were many posts last week about how much trouble you can get in posting pictures on your blog. I will probably have to go through all my posts and delete tons, but meanwhile, I'm a bit afeared, so for today's eye candy I will include something which has nothing to do with anything but whichI know I'm allowed to use, a lovely portrait of me reading to a first grade class, drawn by an artistic member of the young audience:
|You will note my face, apparently covered by blond hair - I should have shaved:)|
Phyllis talking from my unusually constructed arm from which I am also reading
and the enraptured audience of 4 behind me :)
What with all the special events going on lately, we haven't had an Oh Susanna day in a while, and poor Darshana has been patiently waiting for the answers to her questions so let's dive right in, shall we?
Q1) What is the difference between a query letter and a cover letter for a picture book manuscript?
Q2) Which do you use when submitting a PB manuscript to an editor?
Q3) Which do you use when submitting a PB manuscript to an agent?
Darshana's 3 questions are so closely related that I included them all, and I'm betting she's not the only one wondering about this topic, because it's tricky and kind of splitting hairs.
The basic answer is very simple: a cover letter accompanies a manuscript, a query letter does not.
A cover letter is so named because it covers a manuscript. It would include that a manuscript is enclosed.
Otherwise, both letters should include the following:
- The basic facts about the manuscript: title, word length, genre, intended age range (e.g. Hillbilly Bob is a 400 word picture book for ages 3-7.)
- What makes your manuscript stand out from previously published competitors and why it's a great fit for this particular editor/house (e.g. there are few if any picture books about... or, this book about apples will fit beautifully into the kindergarten curriculum...)
- Your publication history or relevant background and, if appropriate, anything that made you uniquely qualified to write this particular book. (This would probably be more applicable in the case of non-fiction, e.g. if you wrote a book about space travel and you were an astronaut.)
- A mention of other enclosures or attachments such as your resume, or a bibliography if your submission is non-fiction
- Whether or not it's a simultaneous submission
- Your contact information
- Anything else requested in that specific agent's/editor's/house's submission guidelines.
(For works that aren't picture books, a sample outline or a chapter synopsis might also accompany a cover letter, but that does not pertain to picture books as a general rule :))
A cover letter should supply the basics, but not much more. You don't want an agent or editor getting so bogged down in the cover that they never get to the actual manuscript!
A query letter is essentially the same thing, it just invites the editor or agent to request the manuscript from you if it sounds like something they might be interested in reading.
As to when you would use one or the other, most agents and editors are clear about what they want. Their guidelines will say, send full manuscript for picture books (that means you'll need a cover letter) or accepts queries or queries only (that means a query letter.)
Some houses that are closed to unagented/unsolicited submissions are still open to queries, so that is your chance to sell your idea and get the editor to request it.
No matter what, query or cover is a place where you can use that pitch you've worked on in Would You Read It Wednesdays to hook either editor or agent. It's no different from your manuscript in that respect - grab their attention and don't let go!
I hope that answers your question, Darshana. If not, please feel free to ask for clarification on anything in the comments. And if any of you highly experience readers out there have anything to add, I'd be grateful for any extra information or clarification you can add!
Have a great day, everyone! Hopefully I'll see you all around the blogosphere as I play catch-up to all your wonderful posts etc! :)