International Bon Vivant and Raconteur (nick_kaufmann) wrote,
International Bon Vivant and Raconteur

Notes from the Front Lines: Cutesy Cover Letters

It never ceases to amaze me how people think it's a good idea to write cutesy cover letters and queries. Here's the opening line from one I received recently:

I've never written one of these before.

Really? I couldn't tell from the fact that this is how you opened your letter to me. Next time, please consider a standard salutation line instead, such as "Dear So-and-so." Just like when you write a letter to grandma.

Or how about this one:

Ugh, writing query letters must be the bane of every writer's existence!

Not really, no. Most adults know how to write a business letter, even if only by receiving one even two weeks from their bank alerting them to a negative balance -- and that's all queries and cover letters are, really. Business letters. Imagine you're in the color copier business and you find a lead on a new start-up company that may be looking for supplies. Are you really going to start your introductory letter to them with, "Ugh, writing these business letters is SO HARD! How about you just buy stuff from me, okay?"

And then there's this one:

I know what you're thinking...Pass!

Well, I am now!

See, you might think cutesy letters will form an instant rapport with the person reading your query or submission, that it will charm us and make you stand out in the crowd, but no. It just makes us cringe, usually, since most of these kinds of letters are not nearly as funny as the author thinks they are.

Remember, kids, your queries and cover letters are business letters, not posts to your favorite message board or texts to your peeps in Williamsburg. If you treat your project with respect, rest assured we will too. If you treat it like a joke, well, you can guess what happens then.

Also, the next person to send me a query addressed "Dear Agent" will receive a form rejection addressed to "Dear Writer." Seriously. What's the matter, you can't do two seconds' worth of research on the company website, which has names all over it?
Tags: notes from the front lines, writing
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