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Five Letters Every Writer Will Need
by Rose Ross Zediker

Return to The Business of Writing · Print/Mobile-Friendly Version

You've mastered query and cover letters, but guess what? There is a few other letters writers need.

The following are five examples of business letters nearly every writer will throughout his or her career. Since editors are busy, remember the rule of threes: Keep each of these letters to three short paragraphs.

Guidelines/Sample Copies/Book Catalogue Letter

Editors want submissions tailored to their publications. That's why they offer guidelines, samples and catalogues.

The first paragraph of this letter states your request. In the second paragraph, tell the editor what you've enclosed. Thank them in the third paragraph:

I am requesting the current writer guidelines and a sample copy for Boy's Life.

Enclosed please find a check for $3.60 and a 9 X 12 SASE as instructed in your market listing.

Thank you for your time.

Address this letter to the editor listed for submissions. Mark the outside of the envelope with "Guidelines Request".

Status Update Letter

You sent your polished manuscript off to the editor. Now the response time listed in the market guide listing has passed. Don't assume your manuscript is under consideration; it could be lost in the mail or have gone astray somewhere within the organization.

The first paragraph of your status inquiry letter tells the editor why you're writing. The second paragraph asks them if they received your submission. State any enclosures and thank the editor in the third paragraph:

My records show my manuscript, Carousel Styles, was submitted to GP4K.com in June 2004.

Please advise me on the status of this manuscript so I can update my records. If you did not receive this manuscript, I will be glad to submit another copy.

Enclosed is a stamped self-addressed postcard for your reply. I look forward to hearing from you and thank you for your time.

The enclosed postcard should have choices for the editor to check mark:

  • Received & considering

  • Never received

  • Received and rejected

Pull Manuscript

Whether you submit book or magazine manuscripts, you will use this letter at least once in your career.

Some magazines hold manuscripts indefinitely and pay on publication. That may be okay in some instances, but if a writer has a chance for guaranteed acceptance of that manuscript, they should take it.

A few book publishers take only exclusive submissions, but most understand why a writer may decide to submit non-exclusively. If you submitted exclusively but haven't heard from an editor after the allotted consideration time in the market listing, it's in your best interest to make the submission non-exclusive.

Begin the first paragraph with your submission information. This helps the editor locate your manuscript.

In the second paragraph inform the editor of your decision. Thank them in the third paragraph for complying with your decision.

My records show my manuscript, "The Legend of the Robin Red Breast," was an exclusive submission to Faith Kids in August 2003.

This letter is notification that this manuscript is no longer an exclusive submission. Your guidelines state you consider non-exclusive submissions.

Thank you for continuing to consider my manuscript as a non-exclusive submission.

This letter doesn't require an SASE enclosure. If your request was to have the manuscript returned, the editor will have the SASE on file from your original submission.

Work-for-Hire Letter

Magazines like Science Weekly and book publishers like Capstone Press are examples of work-for-hire publications. They ask for writers to send specific information to be considered for an assignment. Your cover letter to them should recap that information.

The first paragraph tells them you are a freelance writer that would like to work with them. Tell them in the second paragraph what your enclosures are and in the third paragraph tell them thank you.

I'm a freelance writer interested in writing work for hire books.

I've enclosed my resume and two samples of my writing. Both samples are published manuscripts; the publications are listed on my resume.

Thank you for your time and future consideration of a work for hire assignment.

These editors want to see if your writing style fits with the writing style of their publications. Your work samples should be specific to what they publish, non-fiction samples to a non-fiction publisher.

Change of Address Letter

If you have any pending business with a publication, a manuscript on hold or contributor copies, send them a letter notifying them of your change of address.

Ask them to update and note your address in the first paragraph. Use the second paragraph to remind them of the pending transaction. Again, thank them in the third paragraph.

Please update my address, referenced above, in your files.

My writing records reflect I have a manuscript, "Grandma It's Me," being held for future publication in The Friend.

Thank you for your time.

There is no need to include an SASE with this letter.

It won't take long to master these "other" letters. Set up a template for each of these letters in your word processing program then tweak them to fit your current need. These letters can also be adapted for email inquiries.

Copyright © 2007 Rose Ross Zediker
This article may not be reprinted without the author's written permission.

Rose Ross Zediker is a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature course and has published more than 60 stories, articles, crafts, and devotions. Her work has appeared in Children's Ministry, Cricket, Discoveries, Highlights, Keys for Kids, Primary Treasure, and Writer's Digest, to name but a few. Rose has also written a romance ebook, Through The Eyes Of Love, which will shortly be published by Wild Rose Press. Rose can be contacted via her website at: http://roserosszediker.blogspot.com/.


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