Cover Letter Example for Fiction Writers to Agents

Writer Berniece L. contributed this sample cover letter to a literary agent. In this case, she had a connection to the agent, so her letter was brief and to the point. Just prior to submitting her book to this agent, she had also sent a query letter to her friend's editor at Hyperion.

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123 Lovely Lane
Pretty town, NY 11111
(xxx) xxx-xxx
blwriter@gmail.com

December 18, 2015

John Doe
Brilliant Literary Agency
123 42nd Street
New York, NY 10012

Dear Mr. Doe:

One of your authors, my friend Olivia Oh, spoke with you recently about a middle-grade novel I wrote. I am sending it for your consideration.

It's Me! Rhonda Michaels is a contemporary story set in a high rise apartment in Los Angeles. The hero is thirteen-year-old Rhonda Michaels, who is on a quest to find her brother, who has run off with the circus. It is my first novel, and it is 38,000 words long.

The book is enclosed. Thank you in advance for your time.

Sincerely,
Berniece L. Writer

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The point of the cover letter is to give context to what an agent is about to read, to interest the agent in you as a writer, and to give the agent some ideas about how they might begin to market and sell your work to editors and publishing houses.

Notice how Berniece is concise and to-the-point. She does NOT pad her cover letter with unneeded information, nor does she waste time getting to the facts.

One of the most important aspects of the letter to note is that Berniece begins her inquiry by referencing who recommended her (Olivia Oh). Any connection you may have to the agent is extremely important and might be the difference between having your manuscript read or tossed. Therefore, always begin with your "in."

Berniece does not mention any previous publications, and because this is her first novel, we can assume this is her first attempt at a fictional publication. However, if you have publications that are relevant (ie: fictional publications in literary magazines, other books published, or relevant essays) then mentioning those in your cover letter is also a good idea.

Similarly, if you have relevant experience, you should also mention it. However, do not use your cover letter as a biography page or resume. By relevant experience, we are referring to an experience that somehow informs your abilities as a writer. For example, if you have graduated from an MFA program or won an award for your writing, you should mention these accomplishments as well. 

Follow Berniece's progress with her follow-up letter to this same agent.

Read general advice about the process in "How to Find a Literary Agent" and the Literary Agent FAQs.

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