To entertain myself, and occasionally my children, I create political cartoons. My latest creation ran in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News on November 21, 2016. The cartoon was also offered to the Spokesman Review for the Huckleberries Online Blog, a site which has previously published my work. Unfortunately, they declined this one, stating, “I don’t like the word “racist” used on my blog to label anyone unless someone is a card-carrying, Richard butler-type racist — dfo.” C’est la vie.
I just finished my novel: 112,632 words, 381 pages, 21 chapters, 5 appendices, 3 maps, a calendar, and a family tree. All that’s left to do now is finish my cover letter and mail it off. I have never been so terrified in my entire life. I’m more nervous than when I defended my thesis. Then again, my thesis was only 80 pages long, so maybe anxiety is directly proportional to word count.
Now, about that dreaded cover letter. Whether or not a novel will ever be read depends entirely on that letter. In that single sheet of paper I must summarize all 112,632 words, define my genre and target audience, provide some kind of proof that my writing is worth reading, and include a pithy author biography. It’s a lot to accomplish in a single page.
Some of the information, like the genre and summary, is straightforward. Other information, like writing credits, can leave an author feeling confused about what they should and should not include. After a bit of research I created a list possible writing credits, ranked them from best to worst, and provided a list of what authors should avoid mentioning if they want taken seriously.