An Honest Cover Letter

Dear Publisher or Literary Agency,

I love reading. I love writing. I bet you hear this all the time, but I just want you to know that I mean it. When I begin to talk about books, I feel my stomach leaping and the tips of my toes curl in excitement. When I sit down to write every day, I feel as if this is something I will gladly be doing for the rest of my life, even if it doesn’t result in a lot of money. I’m fully willing to become a waitress to support my writing habit.

However, it’s probably harder getting published as an unknown waitress who writes during her hours off than as a literary agent or editor at a publishing house. Working with you will give me an “in.” Am I being too blunt? Forgive me, but that’s the point. I’ve spent the last two and a half hours drafting (or attempting to draft) clever, concise and comprehensive cover letters in which I subtly explain why I will get down on my knees and beg to work for you. My mind is fairly wrung out, and so in order to refresh and cleanse it, I’m telling you the truth.

The truth is that while my biggest goal isn’t to become a publisher or literary agent, these are jobs that I would do a lot to get if they would help me support my writing habit while also letting me deal with books all day. I’ve been working in a bookstore during the last month, and I’ve found that the mere presence of hundreds of books is enough to keep me motivated and happy. Only think how well I’ll work for you at a job that would involve not only seeing books but reading manuscripts and writing letters!

I fear that my formulaic cover letters will get swallowed in the mass of other likely, qualified candidates that will contact you. If I had the guts, I’d send you this letter instead – although, to be fair, I’d probably work at it a lot longer and make it wittier and more touching than it is.

The bottom line (or, rather, lines) is that I love books, I’m passionate about the written word, and I would love to work anywhere that helps in the process of getting a book from the writer’s personal hard-drive and into the bookstore where I happily purchase it. Even though you’re businesses and your goal is to profit, you also save my life along the way by continuing to publish the books without which I wouldn’t know how to survive the emotional and mental turmoil that every human being goes through.

Hire me, hire me, hire me,

Help me keep writing and books in my life forever by letting me leap into the publishing world during my sophomore year at college,

(I promise you won’t regret it,)

Sincerely,

SlightlyIgnorant

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6 thoughts on “An Honest Cover Letter

  1. I am in the Human Resources field right now (though I am trying to switch to journalism by getting a degree) and I have to go through thousands of resumes and cover letters in a week. If I saw this one, I’d definitely give you a call.

    I think I shall use this as an inspiration for the next cover letter I send to a publishing house!

    Good one!

  2. I wonder if this would work for my agent.

    For what it’s worth, you’ll learn a lot about the industry if you do work on the inside — but you might not like what you see! The illusions and fantasy will burn off quickly as you deal with crazy/diva/neurotic writers; MIA publicists; unrealistic editors, etc…

    I’ve published two NF books with NYC houses and, while I totally get your passion, working on the inside doesn’t necessarily open the door to a book deal. Talent, hard work, blablabla will.

    Good luck…

  3. Ah, man! It’d be delightful to send the cover letter under someone else’s name (from your own apartment) and test the response. I used to help my mom draft resumes and cover letters, which I’d tweak as fitted the job. The slightly unusual ones did get a lot more response than the just-right ones, perhaps because they stood out.

    I do emphasize “slightly.” There’s good variance and crazy variance, as you know. In any case . . . fingers crossed for you, in this venture and in writing! I’ll be looking forward to seeing how everything plays out.

  4. I’m glad an HR rep commented too… because seriously, this kind of cover letter could get you noticed. It is witty and honest, not bogged down in bull-crap that people put in just to please the “man”. It’s refreshing, well-written, and even a joy to read.
    You should consider doing something like this for your official cover letter. You may be surprised.

  5. Erin M says:

    Hee! Love it! 😄

    I agree with broadsideblog, though: working at a publishing company is not a surefire step towards publication.

    BUT, I hope you get an internship, and I hope you adore it! Definitely a good place for people who love words and books. I have my fingers crossed for you!

    xoxoxoxo

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