Books for Everyone

Books for Everyone

9/28/16

The Cover Letter



When I started writing and submitting, the cover letter was one of the first things I learned how to write. It was impressed on me that unless I had a cover letter that popped, one that grabbed a publisher by the throat the second they read it, I could pretty much forget about having a contract offered.

Here I am, many years later, and the art of writing a cover letter, if one writes one at all, seems to have disappeared in the dust of the electronic age. Yet, with electronic submissions, with almost immediate responses when we hand a publisher our life’s work, shouldn’t the cover letter be the most important thing you spell check, reread to see if it will grab someone’s attention, and ensure that we’ve made a good first impression?

Absolutely. All of those things. The cover letter is still the first instrument a publisher uses to gauge if you are the right person to make part of their growing stable of writers.

Yet, in this electronic age, where many people have eschewed the desktop or laptop computer for their phone, the cover letter has become somewhat dated to those with the latest electronic technology.

What do I mean?

Below are examples of cover letters received. Names, places, etc have been removed so as not to cause undue embarrassment.

Yo, dude or dudette, here’s a book I wrote. Can U chk it out and give me a great contract? This bok will be the best 1 U ever got. Signed: The Most Fabulous Author In The World.

Uh… No. No, I will not send you a contract. No, I will not even open your submission to see if you actually wrote a real book instead of one full of abbreviations, a lack of knowledge about capitalization, and desperately in need of a spell check. I’m too busy to do anything more than send you the generic “Thank you for submitting but your book is not for us” response—a response I swore I would never use once I became an editor-in-chief, but have now discovered why it’s used.

Even better are these types of cover letters. They come in several times a month. One was even to announce a novel by the same title.

Dear Mr. or Ms. Editor-In-Chief,

My name is blah, blah, blah. I am currently working for major company as a whatever profession. I love to (add a long list of activities not related to writing) but in my spare time, I have been penning THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL for the last few days, years, months.

Of course, this cover letter goes on for the hard sell, about how the publisher will make millions off this novel, which apparently doesn’t need editing or proofreading. Why, the author will even provide their own cover art, designed and done by them, because no one else can grasp their concept. Of course, they added this cover art to the attached manuscript, so the clueless editor-in-chief can see what it looks like. In fact, all the editor-in-chief has to do is send along a contract and then the author will instruct us on what they want done next.

This particular cover letter does have my attention, in a staring at a disastrous incident and being unable to look away. I will open the submission, and then groan and reach for the coffee cup to refill it, knowing that I will need a triple shot of the cappuccino I save for special occasions to add to the regular coffee to stay awake.

Here is another individual who needs to learn the basic rules of grammar, along with a few other things. They have no clue about formatting. After viewing cover art that will not pass the review to get a print edition done, I’m usually staring at a really weird, nearly unreadable font that’s sized around seventy-two. Once I manage to find the actual book, after having to go through a very long table of contents, a dedication to everyone the author claims helped start them on their trek to instant fame—all the way back to kindergarten—I am very happy to have taken that triple cappuccino shot, or I’d be nodding off. The opening usually starts the book long before it should have, but that’s a subject for another day.

Back to the cover letter. It’s very simple to write a perfect cover letter.

First, you need to put your basic information on the electronic form you’re filling out—name, snail mail address, phone number if you are so inclined, and your email address. Please be aware, most publishers, especially small ones, won’t actually call you. Their staff is generally small and has a lot to accomplish during their work day.

A salutation is always good. Do your research here. Go over the publisher’s website. See who handles submissions. If you can’t tell, the editor-in-chief is the place to start. If they don’t handle submissions, they will forward your email to the proper person.

The first paragraph is where you introduce yourself. Please, be brief. We don’t need to know anything other than your name, the title of your book, and a five to ten word tagline. Taglines are another subject for another day.

The second paragraph is a short, to define short so there are no misunderstandings, two to three sentence synopsis of your book. This was probably the hardest thing for me to learn, how to take the synopsis I’d labored over and change it to one that would fit on a cover letter, which should only be one page long.

The third and final paragraph is where you thank the publisher for looking over your submission and indicate you will await their response, at their convenience. Then you sign off with a signature, or in the case of an electronic submission, just your name.

That’s all a cover entails. Use a plain font, such as Times New Roman or Arial. Don’t do bold or underlining. Italics is all right for your book’s title. Nothing else.

Why such an uncreative, boring letter. Because like a job you’re applying for at a business, the cover letter to a publisher is your application to become part of their company. You need to impress on the person reading it that you are a professional. 



9/27/16

Addictions



No one wants to be considered an addict. Anyone who has been caught up in that nightmare can tell others the difficult time they had “kicking the habit,” as the situation has been called. If asked, those who have stopped smoking, stopped using drugs, or controlled their overeating will go into great detail about the side effects—shakes, a desire to get their hands on whatever they’re trying to stop using or overusing, short tempers, even pushing away everyone around them who can actually help. If pushed hard enough, they will admit that they never should have started the habit. Now that they’re getting clean, they’re actually turning into someone else, a person you really don’t like much. Perhaps it’s their attitude, where they believe anyone who doesn’t “kick their habit” is a weakling and should be lectured from sunup to sundown and long into the night. Perhaps it’s because the friendship you shared was predicated on the thing to which they were addicted.

Or maybe by watching this person shed a bad habit, you’re seeing your own faults.

Just One More is a short story about a teen who relieves her stress by smoking. Even though she attends a school that is smoke free, she feels she needs to find ways to ease the stress in her life by having a cigarette when and where she pleases. She doesn’t think about consequences, until she finds herself in the unenviable of being suspended during finals.




Blurb

One more cigarette. Lydia continually fools herself, by imagining that she’ll relieve the stress in her life by smoking one more cigarette. Her habit results in being caught during finals at school, and being expelled. She learns who did this to her and vows revenge.

There is only one little issue left. Can she throw out the cigarettes or will she be caught in the same downward spiral as her brother?



Excerpt

Lydia draws hard on the cigarette, blowing toward the open window. She feels the stress of not studying for Government wash out of her, relaxing with each drag on the cigarette. Waving away the smoke wafting around her, she peers around the stall door.

Was that the bathroom door opening?

Taking two more quick drags, she drops the butt into the toilet and winces at the hissing sound. Flushing, she searches for breath freshener and perfume in her purse, liberally using both. Cautiously, she opens the door and glances around. Certain no one has seen her sneak the cigarette, she walks to the sink and checks her hair, sniffing furtively.

Nothing noticeable. Good. Time for my final.



9/26/16

Defining Your Book



The hardest part of being an author isn’t writing a book.

Now that I have your attention, let me repeat. The hardest part of being an author isn’t writing the book.

Yes, you labor over that book day in and day out for what seems like a lifetime. Your characters are so real to you that you may have conversations with them. Each scene is carefully plotted in order to find the right blend of action and description. You’ve spent days upon days developing your characters. And right about now, you’re wondering if I've been smoking those weird cigarettes or took a dive off a cliff right as the waves pulled out.

Let me assure you that I haven’t used any mind altering drugs and cliff diving is not on my bucket list. One other thing—I’m very serious in this statement.

You are about to embark on an adventure that will have you pulling out your hair and wondering if writing another book will be easier.

Just what is that adventure? Why, you’re about to start submitting to publishers. But there is one thing you need to do first—classify what kind of book you’ve written.

“Oh,” you say. “Is that all?”

Yeah, that’s all you need to do. Your new discoveries are about book classification, better known as how you’ll define your book. This adventure is about to put you on a high speed chase on a narrow two lane road, skydiving without a parachute, and sitting still while your two-year-old climbs onto a hot stove. Once you start attempting this feat of daring-do, you’ll decide those other hair raising activities are pretty tame.

“Oh,” you repeat. “Is that all?”

Most people think it’s fairly easy to define their book. After all, you’ve just spend a huge amount of time writing a book you carefully outlined at the beginning. You decided long before you wrote the book what category would define it. Your initial response will be to use thriller, young adult, romance, western, or any of the main categories to define your book.

Stop right there. You are about to make a mistake that will create difficulties to have your book rank high on Amazon and other sales venues. Sure, your book has a certain category you can safely slip it into, but how many thousands or millions of other books are also in that category? Take a peek and realize you are now in the “what will I do to get people to notice my book?” group that is desperately searching through the innumerable Amazon sub-categories to decide which one best fits your book.

I did warn you. A category search can take as long as it took you to write your book. It can consume hours you should be spending on creating promotional material. You are about to give up your sanity as you decide on the best sub-categories that will work for your book and give you the exposure you need.

I’m right there with you. Time for me to start hunting categories for my next book…


9/25/16

Everybody Reads YA ~ Secret From The Flames






Happy “Everybody Reads YA” Sunday! Today I’m sharing an excerpt from my paranormal short story: Secret From The Flames. Relatives can cause so many problems.





The sense of time gathers speed. For so long, she dwelled in limbo, awaiting the moment when she would reunite with him. He brings conflicting emotions. Tressa loved him, yet he killed her. Logic dictates that she must hate him.

Her death came about not because he loved her, but because he had to hide his acts, what he had done to ruin his family name.

Duke Turkin was incapable of caring about anyone but himself. The only things he really loved were power and money.





About the Author

Born and raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and coming up with innovative tales from the South and beyond.

She’s a multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Some of her short stories have appeared in anthologies, others in magazines. 









Everyone pays for the mistakes of their family, but for Ciara Tressa Lafferty, that particular mistake happened almost sixty years ago, and nobody will forget it. She's constantly compared to her great aunt, and even worse, she looks like the woman.

A senior in high school with a great future ahead of her, Ciara has no clue what this Halloween holds for her. That it's the anniversary her great aunt’s disappearance is just one more annoyance as she discovers her boyfriend's great grandfather refuses to let her move on with her own life. Then Ciara finds herself thrust in a nebulous existence within her own body when Tressa Anne Lafferty, her great aunt, possesses her. Ciara tries to break free, but Tressa refuses to release her until Ciara discovers the secret hidden within the charred remains of McLaren House--a revelation which will rock the whole town.