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Cover Letter Samples for Book Submissions

The cover letter for a book submission is critically important. It's often the first introduction of your book idea. It showcases your writing skills (or lack of). The cover letter also provides a glimpse into why you are the right person to write this book.

Too often writers spend years writing and revising a book but then introduce their book to an editor or agent with an unpolished cover letter. Or the writer may not include the information the editor or agent expects and needs. 

Cover letters can be tough. Just as you have your manuscript or proposal critiqued, be sure to provide the same considerations for your cover letter. The cover letter should not be rushed.

Let's get started with some cover letter details--with examples--for the book publishing world.

Is It a Cover Letter or Query Letter? 

Most writers use these terms interchangeably, but there is a difference. 

A cover letter is submitted with a manuscript or proposal. Think of the cover letter being at the top of a stack of papers that include your manuscript or proposal—if they were to be printed out. So the cover letter covers the other papers. A query letter is submitted on its own. The query letter indicates the question, “May I submit my manuscript?”

It's 2024. Safely assume all cover letters will be part of an email or an online submission process.

Cover Letter Standard Format

The cover letter is always one page or less in standard style unless otherwise indicated in submission guidelines.

   Times New Roman

   Size 12 font

   1-inch margins


Parts of a Cover Letter for a Manuscript Submission

 The cover letter of a manuscript submission includes three paragraphs. It also has a greeting and closing. Let's take a look at each of these. 


It’s always best to use a name here, but if you don’t know the editor’s name after doing your homework, write “Dear Editor.”

I have sent unsolicited emails using first names (and received an offer). I would rather use a first name than use a title incorrectly. (I’ve known multiple people who have what I thought were a traditional gendered names. I was wrong. Kelly can be for a male. Ryan can be for a female. I’m sure you can add to the list.)

   Dear Anita, 

   Dear Juan,

   Dear Mandy Elwes,

   Dear Editor,

All of those are appropriate. 

Paragraph 1: Introduction or Connection 

What makes this publisher/editor/agent one you want to work with? Did you meet them at a conference? Say so. If you don’t have a personal connection to an editor, create a connection to their books. Are some of their titles similar—but not competition—for your book idea? Say so.

I also like to use this short, introductory paragraph to state the name of my manuscript (in all caps). It’s also a great place to include the genre and word count. Who is the target audience? Be specific. Some of these details can be added later if you prefer, especially if your second paragraph is short.

Want an example? This is the connection I included for what became Whooo Knew? TheTruth About Owls. You might notice I didn’t say it was a nonfiction picture book. Because the sidebars include owls talking, it’s not 100% nonfiction. A way around that is saying it’s an informational picture book. I should have done that. 

Thank you again for your passion for children and children’s literature. Your workshops inspired and motivated me during the Writing First Chapter Books and Early Readers last month. As you requested, I’m submitting WHOOO KNEW? DISCOVER OWLS, a picture book for 8-10-year-olds, for your consideration.

 Yes, the subtitle changed. I love the new subtitle. (And it's now part of The Truth About animal series.)

 Need another example? How about for an unsolicited manuscript submission? This was for The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide. This was my first submission. I would change it now and at least mention the title/genre, but it was effective. 

I think the same readers who enjoy the books Colonial Kids and The American Revolution for Kids from Chicago Review Press will also be drawn to my book.

Paragraph 2: Hook and Book

The second paragraph is not a full book summary, but it includes the hook and a bit about the book. Hooks are hard. But don’t submit until you have yours ready. And vetted by writing friends. Use this second paragraph to also discuss the structure of the book if it’s nonfiction. This is a great place to mention competition or comparisons. Word count and other details should be mentioned here if not included in the first paragraph.

Kirsten W. Larson shared a few hooks by fellow nonfiction authors. Here are hooks for the picture books she shared. (She said nonfiction hooks for older readers are coming soon.) Despite mine being included, I was also inspired to make some changes for the next submission.

Ready for some examples?

In Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls, I used the first lines of my manuscript as the hook. Then I included additional book information not mentioned in the connection paragraph.

The haunting call. The glowing eyes. The fierce beak. You recognize an owl when you see one, but do you really know these birds? In question and answer format, WHOOO KNEW? answers 13 questions children have about owls. The completed text will be about 900 words of main text with additional humorous sidebars which provide information from the owls’ perspectives. 

 A sidenote: It’s pretty much unheard of to submit a picture book manuscript prior to its completion. However, during the conference with the Highlights Foundation, this editor requested I do just that. I think because it’s expository and in a question-and-answer format, the editor trusted the future of the book.

Want to see another? This is for my most recent book, Quirky Critter Devotions: 52Wild Wonders for Kids. (Yes, the title changed for good reasons. We’re all happy with the new title. The publisher definitely asked for and listened to my thoughts about it.)

Fifty-two devotions inspire curious children, ages 8-12, to get wild about their faith in WILD WONDERS: ANIMAL DEVOTIONS FOR KIDS. Did you know pebble toads curl into a ball and roll away from predators, wolf spiders carry their young on their backs, and sloths move slowly to conserve energy? WILD WONDERS displays God’s magnificent creatures and creatively draws life applications from them. Practical faith challenges and hands-on activities help readers think more about personal faith and animals. WILD WONDERS combines Christianity and science while fitting in with Tyndale’s devotionals such as the Did You Know Devotions and The One Year Devos for Animal Lovers

There's a lot more to say about blog posts, but this is getting too long. In this blog post about cover letters for book manuscripts, we covered 
• cover letter vs query letter
• cover letter format
• cover letter greeting
• cover letter paragraph 1, introduction
• cover letter paragraph 2, hook and book

In my next blog post about cover letters for book manuscripts, we'll cover 
• cover letter paragraph 3, biography
• cover letter single sentence ending
• cover letter closing and signature
• additional resources about cover letters

I hope you have already connected with writers and have critique partners. However, if you're looking for professional critique or coaching services for children's writers, I may be able to help you. (I also critique book proposals and cover letters for all writers.) Learn more about my services at

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  1. Excellent post. Off to share! Carol Baldwin

  2. Jan Cauffiel ZinnMay 30, 2024 at 6:49 PM

    Good, practical information and advice! Your insight is always appreciated, Annette.