Workshop Transcript

Cover Letters & Follow-Ups

with Verla Kay


berries Close Window to Return



*** Verla has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to Workshop tonight at 9pm EST - Cover Letters & Follow-Ups

Verla: Hmmm. I need some help tonight.

ONTOIT: um - what day is the workshop on?

Verla: Who wants to set up the podium and make sure the microphone is working?

Verla: I need a glass of water, too

_Enchanted: The regulars will be poking in soon.

_Enchanted: Tonight, On!

Verla: It's tonight, about 12 minutes.

ONTOIT: I thought so - I've just clicked - it's day light savings here

Verla: And..this time..I'M the workshop leader. (RUN for your lives!)

ONTOIT: I thought I was late!! :>)

Verla: nope. Right on time.

_Enchanted: Verla -- didn't you have an article in Keystrokes about queries and covers? I couldn't find it.

Verla: No, I don't think so, enchanted.

Verla: I used to have one on my website for a while

Verla: Okay...if one of you will set up the podium and check the microphone for me...the other one can set up chairs and get my water....

Verla: Okay...SET UP THE ROOM for me, PLEASE?

Verla: I'll be right to get my OWN water....

_Enchanted: OK,OK ====I'm tossin' out the chairs. Somebody catch.

ONTOIT: Verla - here's a glass of pure New Zealand mountain spring water :>)

_Enchanted: *screeech* Now I'm pushing over the podium. Ah, who forgot to dust it?

ONTOIT: a- tishoo!

ONTOIT: <sniff>

_MS_SASE: I would help Enchanted...but I have this bad back....and carpal tunnel...and, well, I am lazy

_Enchanted: Now it matches the furniture in my house.

ONTOIT: hehe

_Enchanted: Lyra will probably be here soon with silly string, and that should about do it!!

ClaraRose: I printed out a couple cover letters...

Verla: Hi everyone. Are you all about ready to start?

Danni25: I am

Harazin: yes

ClaraRose: I think so, Verla

_Enchanted: Go, Verla

Verla: Is it time?

ClaraRose: I don't think quite yet.

Verla: Okay....let me set the topic

*** Verla has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to Cover Letters & Follow-Ups Workshop now in Session

Verla: Hi, Everyone. Welcome to Kidlit and our weekly workshop. Tonight our topic is: Cover Letters & Follow-Ups. And your discussion leader tonight is none other than me.

Verla: For those who don't know who I am, my name is Verla Kay and I write for children. I currently have four picture books under contract with G.P. Putnam's Sons and a fifth contract under negotiation.

katrapp: oh goodie, i haven't missed anything :)

Verla: My first picture book was pulled from the slush pile in 1994 without benefit of an agent or any "pull" or "knowledge" of the editors at the publishing house other than what I read in the CWIM. (Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market guidebook.)

Verla: Tonight we are going to examine my cover letter, talk about why it worked, and then take a look at snippets of YOUR cover letters to see what we can do to get them "working," for you, too.


Verla: There are many variables possible in cover letters and most of them will work for someone, somewhere. But in order to get your letters working for you, you need to find the best possible combination of things to say (and NOT say) in YOUR cover letter for YOUR stories that show off YOUR specific talents, credits and expertise in the best possible light.

Verla: During the workshop, which will be one hour long, please refrain from any personal chit-chat, hello's or goodbye's. But ALL comments and questions about the topic under discussion are welcomed and encouraged.

Verla: If you want to ask a question or make a comment of your own, DON'T WAIT FOR ME TO STOP "TALKING!" (Those who know me, know I NEVER stop talking.) Just jump in with your "on-topic" comments any time!

Verla: And if I don't answer it, I may have missed seeing it. POST IT AGAIN with a notation such as: "You missed this question, Verla...I asked: blah blah blah"

Verla: (Of course, I expect you will say something more important than Blah Blah Blah!)

Verla: If I get too many questions/comments all at once, I'll ask for everyone to stop for a moment to give me time to catch up. Then, as soon as those questions & comments have been addressed, we will continue as before.

Verla: Okay. Any questions on what we will be doing tonight or how this workshop will proceed?

Verla: Yo?

Verla: Questions?

_Lyra: not here...

dorii: None now, Verla

Verla: Very well. Here is the cover letter that *worked* for me. The cover letter itself, will be posted with ***** STARS ***** around it so that you can see the actual letter apart from the comments that will be made about it.

Verla: *****My name*****

Verla: *****My address*****

Verla: Of course, you all KNEW that, right?

ClaraRose: right

Verla: *****Ms. Big Shot, Executive Editor*****


Verla: *****Street Address*****

Verla: *****City, State, Zip*****

ClaraRose: You always put the name of the company in Caps?

Verla: I do, Clara

Verla: *****Date of Letter*****

Verla: *****Dear Ms. Big Shot,*****

Verla: we get to the MEAT of the cover letter.

Verla: What is the FIRST thing you want it to do?

dorii: Get their attention and interest

katrapp: introduce yourself

SallyA: Catch editor's attention

Verla: Good answers!

Danni25: So, to get their interest, should you try to be catchy, or strictly businesslike?

MelLane: both?

Verla: My story was I wanted to get the editor "in the mood" for my story...this is how I started my first sentence

Verla: *****Covered wagons plod slowly westward.*****

Verla: This drew the editor/reader immediately into the "flavor" of my story.


Verla: Next, by quoting a few of the most dramatic lines from the actual text of my picture book next, I hoped to peak the editor's interest and get her excited about reading my story.

Verla: *****"THUNDER! LIGHTNING! Floods of rain. Mucky, muddy, wet terrain. Falter, flounder, WHOOPS! In ditch. Wiggle, wriggle. Try a switch." *****

Verla: The next part of my letter is where I made use of my research at the local library and made my "pitch" to the editor to try and convince her that there was a real NEED for my book on today's market--that she really shouldn't pass this one up or she'd be missing a golden opportunity.

Verla: *****It was an exciting and dramatic period of our American history, but until now there have been almost no picture books on this subject for the 5-8 year old child. The only picture books listed in "books in print" are very long -- up to two thousand words. None of them are suitable for younger children.*****

Verla: Okay...any questions or comment up to here?

_Lyra: very good, Verla...of course few editors could resist THAT

_Enchanted: I like the research idea---proving that a "need" exists.

Verla: I started by catching her attention...then told her why MY book was needed in the marketplace today. That gave her "ammunition" to use when approaching marketing and higher-ups

ClaraRose: excellent idea

Verla: An editor who loves a story still has to convince the "powers that be" that it is a necessary book for their list. Anything you can give the editor to assist her will help sell your book

_Lyra: For fiction...I often include a sound bite about the book, for same reason

Danni25: Was your excerpt a sound bite, Verla?

Verla: I don't know, Danni. Please explain a "sound bite" lyra.

dorii: What's a 'sound bite?'

_Lyra: Like if you pick up any series book (which I write) you'll see some kind of concept-tag on the cover

Verla: Can you give an example, lyra?

Verla: WAS my exerpt a "sound bite," lyra?

_Lyra: Yours, Verla, was a sample of the story itself...

_Lyra: Then you included a very good pitch...but for a series book to sell now, they want a quick "sound bite" that says it all

Verla: okay..give us an example of a "sound bite," please, lyra?

_Lyra: I once had a rejection that said I didn't have a "quick hit tag line"

_Lyra: Okay--I found a "sound bite" for Animorphs

_Lyra: It says: Some people never change. Some do...

Verla: good. a sound bite is like a teaser about the theme of series stories

_Lyra: Like a commercial

_Lyra: yes, Verla

_MS_SASE: A jingle...something easily remembered

_Lyra: I have a GOOD one for my new proposal, but I can't share that one yet (g)

Verla: Great! That would work with ANY fiction piece, folks.

Verla: Okay, now...I will continue.

Verla: Next is where I tried to "tease" the editor/reader into getting really excited about reading my story.

Verla: *****The enclosed manuscript is only about 150 words long, but "Finding A Place" (publisher later changed the title to "Moving On") is full of vivid, concise descriptions of Mother, Father and Baby John struggling to complete the difficult journey across this vast country in a bouncing, jouncing covered wagon.*****

Verla: Okay...that's all I said about my story...Here is my next paragraph...tell me what I was trying to accomplish with it...

Verla: *****Although this is my first picture book, I have a second book (on the gold rush days) already nearing completion and I have been published in magazines. A copy of my latest short story, "Jump, Rabbit," is enclosed. It is one of the two featured stories in the 1994 Oct/Nov Issue of Turtle Magazine.*****

_Enchanted: establish credentials

Danni25: Show you're a professional?

Verla: right!

ClaraRose: what if you don't have any credentials?

Verla: If you don't have any credentials, clara, then you have to be very creative. Tell the editor why YOU are the person to write THIS story.

Verla: Many people will tell you to NOT say you are a new author. I disagree. Everything every editor has ever told me at any workshop or conference is that they LOVE to "discover" first-time authors. IF my story is professional enough, and IF I come across as a totally professional person, then the fact that I am *new* should not work against me.

_MS_SASE: It also shows you have another book that would be a good follow-up for the same publisher

_Lyra: Just as long as you don't say your kids or students love the story (g)

Verla: right, lyra!

Verla: If you wrote a story about a child who has been molested...and you know a child who was...then mention that you have been close to someone who was in this situation

_Lyra: ONLY mention that IF it enhances the story (in my opinion)

Verla: right, lyra

Verla: If you have been a teacher, mention that.

Verla: (Editors LOVE teachers. They know that teachers have learned to meet deadlines and they are educated people. They also have to have a certain degree of patience or they wouldn't be able to work with kids.)

Danni25: So, if I write a funny book, and say I work in a library, where I see kids usually want funny books, is that good?

Verla: Yes, danni. That is an excellent credential

Verla: If you have worked in a daycare or library or school (even as a volunteer!) be sure to mention your experience with children

Verla: especially if they are the ages of the children you are writing for

Verla: Okay..anyone else have any questions or comments for this?

_Lyra: I would personally keep those type of comments brief--stick to the story and publisher's needs, etc.

_Lyra: (that comment was for the teacher, daycare mention)

SallyA: If it's non-fiction should the length of time for research and your contacts for the info be mentioned?

Verla: All you want to do in this part of your letter is establish the fact that you are a professional and can do the job for the publisher

SallyA: I thought it might help establish the fact

Verla: If it's non fiction, Sally, your bibliography will tell the publisher how hard you researched it.

Verla: If you have had personal contact with someone important, I would briefly mention that fact

SallyA: Ah so. Thank you.

MelLane: How does a cover letter differ from a query letter?

Verla: A cover letter introduces YOU and why the book will be important to the publisher. A query letter ALSO needs to make the editor want to read the whole manuscript. My cover letters are really queries in disguise...

Danni25: What do you mean, introduces you?

Verla: This is where I let her know I *was* a professional and not just a "one-book" author. My letter was businesslike, but not "cold or clinical-feeling." I have indicated passion for my work, but also that I am a reasonable, responsible person that she will WANT to work with.

Danni25: I'm scared of sounding clinical

Verla: You want them to feel like YOU are the BEST person to have written this story.

Danni25: Sounds hard

Verla: If you write your letter with passion, danni, you won't come across as clinical...even if you are professional sounding.

katrapp: i think i sound too friendly and chatty

Verla: It's a fine line, danni. I work harder on cover letters than I do on manuscripts.

Verla: But your letter should sound like YOU, not a stereotype from a book.

Verla: Let a little of your personality come through.

Verla: When I wrote my letter...I did NOT tell the editor that I had only been published in two magazines! Or that the second story had JUST been published the month before.

Verla: When I got my acceptance phone call...

Verla: the editor thought I'd been published in lots of magazines!

zzap: But a cover letter for a pic book can be very very simple. The ms. will speak for itself. Just don't shoot yourself in the foot in the cover letter.

Verla: right, zap!

MelLane: But what if you're writing a genre book? They're not unique, so how do you make them appear unique?

_Lyra: I keep my queries/cover letters very simple...the more simpler the more I learned about writing

Verla: good comment, lyra

_Lyra: I just have three paragraphs usually

Verla: Just a line or two on each of the really important points you want to make to the editor

Danni25: What if you haven't been published before? How do you convince them you're not a one book author?

Drewwriter: ?

Verla: Don't worry too much about that, danni. IF you have a second book you are working on, mention it in passing...but don't dwell on it. Most publishers want to worry about just ONE book at a time. (Except series books)

Verla: The message you want to convey, is that you are a professional writer. (And you can have a professional attitude without ever selling anything yet!)

MelLane: So, how do you present a genre book? There are hundreds of genre books. I can understand how to present a non-fiction, but genre?

MelLane: One can't read ALL the genre books (although I must admit, I give it a good try)

Verla: Which genre are you referring to, mel?

_Lyra: Do you mean paperback originals, Mel (like series)?

MelLane: mystery. Fantasy. Science fiction. Particularly mystery.

MelLane: paperback or hardback.

_Lyra: The genres are only that clearly divided in the adult field, Mel

_Lyra: The juvenile books tend to be a mix of all genres and often very unique

Verla: If you have a mystery story, mel, you would "pitch" it just the same way. Tell the editor WHY THIS story is different from all the rest...why the genre NEEDS this story.

Verla: and why YOU are qualified to write it.

Verla: Have you been infatuated with Sci Fi stories all your life? Mention that.

MelLane: So, research the genre story just as a nonfiction?

Verla: Yes, mel

Drewwriter: Should you include any marketing specifics? In a query?

Verla: If you know something that will be beneficial to selling your book, YES, drew!

Verla: For instance, my second book, Gold Fever, had the 150th anniversary of the California Gold Rush coming up in five years..I mentioned that in my cover letter and it helped to sell that book. They knew they would have a "built-in" sales boost.

_Enchanted: what a marketing plug, Verla!


Verla: Do you live near a space station? Mention that

MelLane: (mysteries, Verla, I just added the others)

Danni25: That's a problem. How do you say that you ARE the only one who can write a particular story?

Verla: You tell them whatever your qualifications are for writing that book, danni.

Verla: If you can get a couple of magazine credits while you are waiting for a book sale, then you can mention those. And they DO help.

Verla: Okay...moving on...

Verla: (little pun there...)

zzap: Danni25, I think the advice given you was general, not specific. I think in some instances you may have written a manuscript that you can not explain why *you* are the only person who could write this. Don't get hung up on that. Your manuscript WILL speak for itself.

Danni25: Thanks, zzap

_Lyra: The bottom line IS the story...that's what will make a sale

zzap: But when there IS something special, mention it.

Verla: Thank you zap & lyra. GOOD comments. IF you have something you can say, say it. If not, say nothing!

Verla: Here is the next thing I wanted to "pitch" in my letter:

Verla: *****I am very impressed by the quality of picture books that <name of

Verla: publishing company> publishes and hope that you will be interested in considering "Finding A Place," for your list.*****

NOTE: Finding A Place title was temporarily changed to Moving On. This may change one more time before the book is published.

Verla: Everyone loves to be flattered. This would be a good place to mention a book that has been RECENTLY published by the company. Do NOT mention an "old" book from your childhood days!

Verla: Publishers LOVE to hear that you like what they do.

Verla: And they like to hear that you have done your "homework" and not just picked them blindly from a market guidebook..but that you actually have SEEN some of the books they have published.

_Lyra: True, Verla...and that's not something I knew until hearing editors speak

Verla: Go to your local bookstore and look at what's new

Danni25: What about


Drewwriter: It seems presumptuous to tell an agent or publisher about marketing ideas. How is it done?

Verla: Only if it is something special, I had with Gold Fever.

zzap: I heard recently that the proper time to talk about marketing was after the editor expressed interest in your ms.

zzap: Not in cover letters.

Verla: Not a LOT, zap...only one short sentence IF it is appropriate for your book

Verla: What you want to do, is give that editor as much ammunition as you can so she can sell the idea to the rest of the house.

MelLane: Don't they just want to be assured that you're as serious about your work as they would be to publish it?

MelLane: And what you can do to help?

Verla: yes, mel

MelLane: How can you tell if it's appropriate for your book?

_Lyra: Ask one of your GOOD friends (g)

NOTE: (g) = grin

MelLane: LOL... right, Lyra.

NOTE: LOL = Laughing Out Loud

Verla: YOU wrote the book, mel. You will know what might make it sell well.

Verla: Okay..I'm going to speed up a bit so we can get to some of YOUR letters

Verla: *****Please note that this is a simultaneous submission.*****

Verla: This letter was sent to seven publishers, all of whom accepted simultaneous submissions according to their guidelines.

Verla: *****Sincerely,*****

Verla: *****My name

Verla: & phone number went here.*****

MelLane: Do you have to tell how many publishers you sent it to?

_Lyra: no

Verla: No, mel. Only that they are not the only one.

MelLane: I put Re: Simulataneous Submission of "Name of Manuscript" at the top, like a business letter. Is that ok?

Verla: As long as it's on the letter somewhere and will be noticed by the editor it should be fine, mel.

Verla: *****Enclosures:*****

Verla: *****Manuscript*****

Verla: Everything that was in my letter was the line in ****STARS****

Verla: *****Copy of published story, "Jump Rabbit" *****

Verla: I was VERY proud of this story. So I copied the story in black & white on a copy machine and stapled the pages together to make a mini story book. (two pages, folded in half.) I also copied the cover of the magazine and the title page, showing my story as one of the two "featured" stories of the month.

MelLane: It is a VERY good story, Verla.

Verla: Thanks, mel!

Verla: *****SASE*****

Verla: Self-addressed, stamped envelope for return of manuscript

Verla: *****SAS Postcard*****

Verla: Self-addressed, stamped postcard so I'd know it arrived safely

Verla: The postcard was simply a 3X5 index card with my name & address on the front and a one line message on the back that read: The following manuscript, <Name of story>, was received on ________________. (Place for them to stamp or write in the date.)

Verla: Okay. You have sent off your manuscript and cover letter. Hopefully, you got back the postcard you included, so you know the manuscript is at the publishing house. Now. How long do you wait before you follow up?

zzap: A long time. <vbg>

ClaraRose: Look at the guidelines

ClaraRose: if it is beyond what they say in the guidlines, a followup would be appropriate.

NOTE: vbg = Very Big Grin

Verla: Good answers!

Verla: First: Read your market guidebook or author's guidelines from this publisher. How long does it say the usual time is for a response? One month? Three? Six? Whatever it is...add one to three months to their estimated time and then send a follow-up letter or postcard.

Verla: EXAMPLES: If they said, "One Month" then I would follow-up after two months. If they said "Three Months" then I would follow-up after five months. If they said "Six Months" then I would follow-up after nine months.

Drewwriter: Thanks

Drewwriter: WHat if you don't get that sasP returned? Can you call to confirm receipt?

NOTE: SASP = Self Addressed, stamped Postcard

MelLane: Hmmm.... You send a postcard with a book mss?

NOTE: mss = manuscript/s

Verla: I do, mel. I want to KNOW it arrived safely.

MelLane: Have you had good response with the publishers returning them?

Verla: Most of them return them, mel

Verla: How do you follow-up? Write a SHORT letter or send a SASP (Self-addressed, stamped postcard.) Keep it to one or two paragraphs at the MOST. It should be simple and to the point.


Verla: *****On XXXX date you received my <short story, article, picture book manuscript, Mid-grade novel/proposal or whatever it was you sent>, NAME OF MANUSCRIPT. Could you please tell me its current status?*****

Verla: (If you got back your SASP, then you know what date they received your manuscript. If you didn't, then put in the date you mailed the manuscript to them instead of the date received.)

MelLane: If your mss sold before you received notification from the other publishers, do you notify the ones not heard from or wait till you hear from them?

Verla: Mel, that happened to me with Moving On...(Finding A Place) I immediately called all the other six publishers to let them know the story had been accepted by another publisher and then followed up the phone calls with a written letter formally withdrawing my manuscript from their consideration.

_Enchanted: That had to be a bittersweet duty.

Verla: Here's the rest of this follow-up letter:

Verla: *****Manuscript is under consideration. We hope to have an answer for you by _________.*****

Verla: *****Manuscript is still waiting to be read. We should get to it by __________.*****

Verla: *****Manuscript was returned to you on __________.*****

Verla: *****Other _________.*****

Verla: *****Thank you very much for taking the time to assist me in this matter. Sincerely, Screaming-in-frustration-at-the-long-delays Author*****

ClaraRose: cute

MelLane: I love the author's name... think I'll change mine!

Verla: lol! Very funny, mel

Verla: By doing it this way, and giving them boxes to check off or just write a simple date in, they can give you a quick reply with only the effort of finding out where your story is. They don't have to write a letter...they don't have to address or stamp anything. Make it EASY for them and you will often get a speedy reply. (Well, "a speedy reply" SOUNDS good, doesn't it?)

Verla: ALWAYS give them an "Other" choice! Often I have gotten MUCH more in the reply than I would have expected when they wrote something in the "Other" box instead of using one of the quick-reply choices.

zzap: Hint: If you have several mss. circulating, the wait will seem less lengthy. Don't put all your hopes into One Story.

Verla: Good idea, zap! And VERY sound, too.

Verla: To recap:

Verla: Make sure your cover letter introduces you in the BEST possible light.

Verla: Tease the editor with a few lines of your writing. Make her WANT to read your story.

Verla: Tell the editor why THIS book will be important to her list. Why it will sell, who will want it, why she just CANNOT pass up this story.

Verla: Let the editor know that you have *hand-picked* HER house. What books her house has published in the past that make you feel that your book will fit into her list.

Verla: Why YOU are the BEST person to tell THIS story.

Verla: Close with a professional, yet friendly greeting.

Verla: ALWAYS enclose an SASE and SASP and relevant clips if you have any.

Verla: ALWAYS make a copy of the letter you have sent! That way, you will know WHO you sent the story to, at WHAT house and WHEN.

zzap: and include that Wonderful Manuscript. (important)

Verla: LOL! Yes, zap. It IS important to remember to put your manuscript in with the cover letter!

Verla: TIP: I have one file basket that I use for my "Awaiting Reply" file. EVERYTHING that I have sent to anyone that is waiting for an answer goes in that file - from a toy I ordered out of a catalog to manuscript submissions.

Verla: ALWAYS write down when you send the manuscript off. (Use a calendar, file card posted on a bulletin board, paper or computer tracking log or SOMETHING. But DO keep track of it!)

MelLane: There's a very good FREE tracking program on the internet called SAMM.

MelLane: designed by a writer, no less.

Verla: Okay...any more questions or comments? Anyone bring a cover letter that we can help make better?

Verla: (If we don't have time to do everyone's, I will stay after class...)

ClaraRose: I've got one.

Verla: Okay clara...

Verla: Where does it need help?

ClaraRose: Everywhere... I don't know!

Verla: LOL

Verla: Okay. Give us the beginning

Suzy-Q: From start to finsh ClaraRose?

Verla: and is this for fiction or nonfiction?

Verla: Picture book, novel or something else?

ClaraRose: This is a picture book - fiction

Verla: (It will help us to know what kind of story it is...)

Verla: Okay...first lines are?

Verla: If anyone else wants some help on theirs...get your problem lines ready to post...

ClaraRose: Our hero has somthing special to tell their mom today. But, a busy mom, and an active imagination make it nearly impossible for our hero to tell it! A Telling Tale (title) is an easy reading adventure with a sweet simple ending.

ClaraRose: --- that was the first paragraph.

Verla: Okay...I see one big problem right off...

Verla: Our hero tell their mom

Verla: tense change. One person is not a their.

Verla: What's the hero's name?

ClaraRose: hmmm... do I have to decide male/female?

_Lyra: Yes--use the name

ClaraRose: No name is given.

Verla: Never in the book?

ClaraRose: nope

Verla: What do you call your main character in the book?

katrapp: could you use his/her mom today?

MelLane: How about deleting "their"?

_Lyra: Then say something like How does a kid get Mom's attention...?

Verla: Good phrase, lyra!

zzap: Then there must be a lot of dialog or monologue?

ClaraRose: Good idea, Lyra

_Lyra: I seem to be good at this kind of thing--anyone need help, just email me (g)

MelLane: I always do, Lyra. You know that! <vbg>

_Lyra: (g) for Mel

Verla: How about starting it like this? In "A Telling Tale" our hero uses an active imagination to solve this problem.

ClaraRose: yes, that would work.. except the imagination is part of the problem... not the solution.

Verla: Ah....okay..

Verla: In "A Telling Tale," our hero has to overcome not only a busy mom, but also an active imagination to solve his problems.

ClaraRose: good

Verla: Is this a query, Robin? Or a cover letter with the manuscript?>

ClaraRose: Query

Verla: If it's a query, you need to put this in...okay.

MelLane: I'm still not sure I understand the difference between a cover & a query.

Verla: A query is sent without the manuscript, mel. It's a letter to the editor asking her if she would like to request the full manuscript to read. A cover letter is included on top of a manuscript...the full manuscript is right there for the editor to read as soon as the "introduction" letter has been read.

_Lyra: I consider my letters query letters, because usually I'm attaching chapters or the whole book

_Lyra: But it could also be considered a cover letter as I'm only introducing myself and the book

Verla: Awk! Our time is up!

ClaraRose: it went quickly

_Lyra: always does (g)

_Enchanted: And you made some valuable points, Verla. Thanks!

Verla: Oh, you are MOST welcome, enchanted.

MelLane: Quick! Some steal Verla's clock, I mean hide it.

guest-Lyn: Interesting discussion. Thanks, everyone.

Danni25: And your cover letter was great. Now I HAVE to read your books

Verla: ahahha. You just got two verses from Moving On, Danni....more than most people have ever seen.

Suzy-Q snatches Verla's clock.

MelLane: Quick, SQ! hide it!

_Lyra: we can STILL chat...just off the record now (g)

Verla: I'll stick around for a while so we can work on some of these cover/query letters a little longer. :-)

NOTE: :-) = a sideways smiley face

MelLane: Whew...

MelLane wipes forehead.

Suzy-Q hides the clock where Verla won't want to look.

_Lyra: Lyra does NOT ask SQ where!

Suzy-Q: LOL

_Enchanted: Well, I know my cover letter's too long. Gonna take a hatchet to it.

Verla: One page at most, enchanted.

Verla: Okay, Next problem cover letter?

tinaeva1: Imagine that your baby brother is allergic to your best friend. It can happen when your best friend is a cat. In "Missing George," Emmie tells her own story of having to give up her favorite playmate. The reader feels through Emmie's feelings her journey from loss to acceptance and finally enjoyment of her new playmate ? her little brother.

tinaeva1: I had it ready, Verla

_Lyra: nice opening, Tina!

Verla: Oh, for a query that is GREAT, tina.

_Lyra: But I would have rather had the cat!

tinaeva1: It's a query-no luck yet

Verla: It captures the editor's attention immediately

Verla: And tells the story in a full, interesting way

tinaeva1: Wish I could find a buyer!

Verla: Hmmm. Can you insert one or two of the most interesting lines from the actual book, tina?

MelLane: How about changing the "reader feels" to the "reader empathsizes"?

_Lyra: or "the reader experiences Emmie's feelings"

tinaeva1: I've sent the manuscript to a few but it didn't catch either

Verla: How about leaving the reader out completely? Just make it...Emily's feelings journey from loss to acceptance...etc

tinaeva1: That's a good idea, Verla.

_Lyra: ah--better, Verla!

_Lyra: Don't tell editors how "readers" should feel--they can figure that out

Verla: Right. The editors want to make up their own minds as to how they will feel. Tell them how EMILY feels.

Verla: Okay, next?

katrapp: Enclosed is my manuscript for a picture book named . . . and goldfish don't like Jell-O (337 words). This is a story about Perkey and his devilish pet boy, Samson.

katrapp: is this not what I want to say?

Verla: Hmm. With a title like THAT, katrapp...I would use that title for a "hook" to catch the editor's eye immediately. How about....

Verla: Goldfish don't like Jello gelatin. And Perkey is a goldfish who has his very own pet, a devilish boy named Samson.

Verla: Use the title in caps...(I added the Gelatin to make all the protesters be quiet, kat)

katrapp: i had it underlined

Enchanted: Are you going to have a problem using a trademark in the title, katrapp??

MelLane: Don't you just have to use the registered mark?

MelLane: Letting people know it is a registered trademark?

Suzy-Q: she could say gelatin

tinaeva1: No, you must put what it is beside it, ie Jell-O pudding

katrapp: I think that could be gotten around by the fact that all gelatin is called jell-o

Verla: No, kat. All gelatin is NOT called Jello. You will need to find out if you can use this name or not.

_Enchanted: she could say "pudding" or "dessert". I think you need permission and the publisher will probably have to pay, but I'm not sure.

Suzy-Q: You have to get permission from the Jello company

MelLane: Guess it's something that needs research!

_Lyra: Trademarks are VERY tricky

katrapp: it is about a boy that puts jello gelatin in the goldfish's bowl

_Enchanted: He could call it "jiggle juice".

MelLane: LOL, Enchanted! Jiggle Juice! I like it!

_Lyra: yeah--that's cute

_Lyra: A long time ago when my first book came out, I had it originally placed in Disneyland, but was told we couldn't use it

MelLane: Verla, would one have to use the r circle thing?

MelLane: At the end of the name, I mean?

_Enchanted: Hey -- most goldfish can't read.

MelLane: Most? Do you know some that do? <g>

_Enchanted: only the chipmunk.

Verla: (Enchanted's do, I'm sure.) That's a question for copy editors, mel. I'm not up on all of that. I just know that you DO have to get permission to use a copyrighted brand name.

katrapp: so... should i write jell-o?

Verla: You will have to find out what the laws are on that, kat..or change the name to something Goldfish Don't Like Wiggly Gelatin

tinaeva1: Jiggly Gelatin

_Lyra: cute, Verla!

Verla: Or...Goldfish don't like Jiggle Juice (as someone mentioned earlier....enchanted?)

_Enchanted: Sounds very Patricia Reilly Giff, Verla.

Verla: Hmm. I wonder if enchanted meant that as a compliment or not?

_Lyra: I would think SO ... P R Giff is good

_Enchanted: A compliment--I think I paid her mortgage a few years ago.

Verla: Really? Goodie. You going to pay mine this month, too? (Heh heh heh.)

Verla: Anyone else want us to tear their cover/query letter beginning up?

_Enchanted: OK--two sentences.

Verla: away, enchanted.

_Enchanted: Bree and Peter Nichols lived in the fishing village of North Cove nearly all of their young lives. Yet they never heard about the summer solstice storm...or the people who vanished from the west side of the island, at Kirby's Thicket, nearly one hundred years ago.

Enchanted: Problem #1 -- title character, the antagonist, isn't even mentioned until my 3rd paragraph.

Verla: Ah....

Verla: I think you can make it more enticing, enchanted....

Verla: How about...

Verla: One hundred years ago, people vanished from the west side of the island during a summer solstice storm...but Bree and Peter Nichols didn't know about it.

tinaeva1: That's good, Verla--more to the point

Verla: That immediately sets up a question in the reader's mind...What is going to happen? I want to know MORE.

MelLane: I wanna know more, with a sentence like that!

tinaeva1: Is this fiction, Enchanted?

_Enchanted: middle grades fantasy

tinaeva1: sounds very exciting

_Enchanted: from your lips to the Big Guy's Ears!

tinaeva1: sure

Verla: You want the editor to IMMEDIATELY be drawn into the fantasy, mystery, excitement, drama of your story

Verla: Make the editor WANT to read the whole thing.

Verla: (We are talking query letters here, now....not cover letters)

_Enchanted: Thanks, Verla. It definitely needs an overhaul

Verla: Start with something like the example I gave you, enchanted. Pull the editor right into the drama of your story

Danni25: My cover letters are all boring. Just the name of the book, the type (rhymingpicture book), length and age group.

Verla: Take a dramatic moment from YOUR story, danni...and use that for your opening line.

Danni25: Okay, here's a verse. How would this sound at the beginning? (Wait a second while I type)

Danni25: Arrgh! I can't find the file I typed it in

Verla: LOL. Keep looking danni. I'll hang around and wait

Danni25: I have it memorized, but I can't decide which is the most dramatic moment

Verla: hehehe.

Verla: give us a couple of them, danni and we will choose our favorites

Danni25: ok, here's a verse. Of all the pirates/ From centuries back/ None were so evil/ As Old Blacktooth Jack

Danni25: That's the first one

Verla: That's a GOOD beginning, danni

guest-Lyn: Wow.

_Lyra: nice, Danni

_Enchanted: I like it!

Verla: Good rhythm and meter, too, danni. Excellent verse!

Danni25: Thanks. Meter isn't usually my strong point, but this story just seemed to write itself

Verla: Ah ha!

Verla: Okay, anyone else?

katrapp: Enclosed is my manuscript for a picture book named Jeepers Peepers! (173 words), and could also be sold with a matching stuffed frog.

katrapp: This is not a story about sunglasses. It is a fun whimsical story about Spring Peeper frogs. One summer, Spring Peepers kept popping up in the house.

katrapp: that is another one

_Lyra: Excellent opening, Kat!

Verla: Okay...START your letter with that last line, kat

Verla: One summer, Spring Peepers kept popping up in the house.

katrapp: so i should drop the enclosed until later

Verla: Yep. You can put that at the end of the letter...

Verla: Okay, folks. That officially ends this workshop session. You are welcome to stay and chat later if you wish. :-)

Suzy-Q: Great workshop

Verla: Thanks, sq

guest-Lyn: I have to go now. Will this group meet next week?

_Lyra: More often than THAT, Lyn

Suzy-Q: we meet every night guest-Lyn

guest-Lyn: Okay, see you soon. And Verla, I loved your suggestions.

Verla: Some of us are here every night, lyn...but the workshops are only on Tuesday nights

_Enchanted: Y'all have a nice night. Very good points, Verla. Now I've got work to do!!! Bye, all!!!

ClaraRose: Great job as always, Verla!

Verla: thanks enchanted. Thanks clara

------END OF WORKSHOP------



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