Submitting a Manuscript: Writing a Covering Letter

Many writers aspire to have their novel released via a publishing house after or instead of self–publishing, but have no idea how to approach the subject appropriately. When submitting your manuscript, it’s necessary to write a covering letter that is sent either before or alongside your work. It’s best to keep cover letters short and simple, while at the same time including enough vital information about your piece. We have listed below a few dos and don’ts when it comes to writing a cover letter.


  • Mention any positive reasons that you chose the publishing house, without using too much obvious flattery. Editors are interested to know why your work is so well suited for that particular company.
  • Very briefly summarise the novel, describing the genre and touching on the basic plot synopsis, and perhaps including what current market or trend the novel fits into. Next time we will be touching more on how to write an effective synopsis for submission.
  • Keep the submission about the novel; personal biography should be kept short and to the point.


  • Be aggressive or arrogant; try to stay as humble and polite as possible. After all, it is unwise to suggest you are doing an editor a favour by writing to them.
  • Use flowery or over-complicated language. Recipients will not be impressed with an overly formal, unreadable letter that suggests you do not know what style is appropriate. Keep it well written, simple and to the point.
  • Challenge the editor. Fairly obvious, but questioning whether a publisher is bold or brave enough to take on a groundbreaking new manuscript may not give the best impression of its writer.

Next Friday we’ll be giving you a quick update of all the happenings at Rowanvale Books, so be sure to drop by. Don’t forget that you can request tips or guidance on specific topics; just leave a Comment and we’ll do our best to help!

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