Book Proposals 101.: What Publishers Want by: Sophfronia Scott Lots of writers like to talk about writing books. You hear very few talking about writing book proposals. Maybe that's why it's easy to forget that a strong book proposal is the first step to getting a great deal for your non-fiction book. It's where you make the big pitch and tell the editor everything that's going to make him or her want to buy.
A book proposal is also a great time saver for you because you'll find in the course of researching your book proposal whether or not your idea is viable, or whether your category is already crowded with similar books. Here are the parts that make up a book proposal, and a few tips on how to make it really stand out to a potential publisher.
This is the first page of the book proposal. Your title should be centered and printed about two-thirds of the way down the page. In the bottom left hand corner you'll type in your name, address, phone number, email address and the name and contact information for your agent.
You'll want to have two to three pages explaining the overall premise of your book. You'll also want to include a Table of Contents that shows what points will be covered in each chapter.
This isn't just your usual resume stuff, this is a big opportunity to sell yourself as THE person to write the book. Write it in the third person starting with your education and credentials. You'll want to point out any experience that specifically relates to the subject matter of the book. Have you written articles or previous books on the topic? Note those as well. List any public speaking that you have done and will do in the future, including television and radio interviews. Include a really nice photo. It doesn't have to be a glamour shot, but you do want to look interesting and engaging. A 5"x7" is fine.
The publisher will want to know if there are books similar to yours already out there. It will help them to see that there is a market for such books. At the same time, you'll want to point out how your book will be different, or better, than what's already out there. Do not trash someone else's work. It's bad form. It's enough to say a competitor's book left something out, or doesn't cover a certain aspect. If you don't know what competing books exist, you can look them up in Books in Print. Most libraries have it in the reference section.
This will be your chapter-by-chapter outline showing what you will cover, point-by-point, in each chapter. You can plan on allotting about half a page per chapter.
This is where you get to show that you really can write! You should submit at least three chapters of content. It doesn't have to be the first three chapters, but if you haven't written anything yet those may be the easiest to do. Then again, some writers like to start in the middle of a book! The main key here is to be good--no typos, no misspellings and no factual errors.
The marketing section of your book proposal is so important that many publishers will often read it first. So make sure you spend the time to make this the best it can be. Lay out your whole marketing plan here. Explain who your target audience is, how big it is and why they will buy this book. How do you plan on reaching them? Are you buying your own advertising? If so, in what publications and what is their combined circulation? Will you be reaching out to book clubs, corporations or college classes where you book could be taught? How can you make your book stand out against the ones that are already out there? You want to make the case that there is a ready made audience out there and all the publisher has to do is reach out and grab them by signing you.
Remember, a publisher wants to acquire you and your connections, so this is another important section of the proposal. How will you put yourself out there for your book? You'll want to explain if you'll be doing public speaking, or maybe you have a huge list you communicate with via newsletter every month. How many are on your list? If you plan to hire your own publicist, put that fact in as well. Do you have famous connections that will help you get great blurbs? Do you have a budget? If so, how much? Yes, they do want to know if you plan on spending some of your own money!
Here you'll detail the length you propose for the book (in words) and whether the book will have any illustrations or photos. You'll also want to give an estimate for the time you'll need to turn in the finished manuscript.
And that's it. When your proposal is done you might want to hire an editor or a book consultant to go over it and give you some strong feedback. That way you'll know you have it in the best shape possible and you can feel confident when you're sending it out.
Author and Writing Coach Sophfronia Scott is "The Book Sistah" TM. Get her FREE REPORT, "The 5 Big Mistakes Most Writers Make When Trying to Get Published" and her FREE online writing and publishing tips at http://www.TheBookSistah.com.
In this free email course, I'll tell you everything I know about improving your writing, publishing it electronically and in print, and promoting it after the sale.
Two questions you should ask: (1) What will it cost me? (2) What does this Michael LaRocca guy know about it?
Answer #1 -- It won't cost you a thing. The single most important bit of advice I can give you, and I say it often, is don't pay for publication. My successes have come from investing time. Some of it was well spent, but most of it was wasted. It costs me nothing to share what I've learned. It costs you nothing to read it except some of your time.
Answer #2 -- "Michael LaRocca has been researching the publishing field for over ten years."
This quote, from an ezine (electronic newsletter) called Authors Wordsmith, was a kind way of saying I've received a lot of rejections. Also, my "research" required 20 years.
But in my "breakout" year (2000), I finished writing four books and scheduled them all for publication in 2001. Then I spent almost a year as an editor and Author Development Specialist for one of my publishers.
After my first book was published, both my publishers closed. Two weeks and three publishers later, I was back on track. All four books were republished, and a fifth will be released in 2004. Written in 2003, no rejections.
See how much faster it was the second time around? That's because I learned a lot. 2004 EPPIE Award finalist. 2002 EPPIE Award finalist. Listed by Writers Digest as one of The Best 101 Websites For Writers in 2001 and 2002. Sime-Gen Readers Choice Awards for Favorite Author (Nonfiction & Writing) and Favorite Book (Nonfiction & Writing). 1982 Who's Who In American Writing. Excuse me for bragging, but it beats having you think I'm unqualified. Also, I found more editing jobs. That's what I do when I'm not writing, doing legal transcription, or teaching English in China (my new home). But the thing is, if I'd become an editor before learning how to write, I'd have stunk. I'll tell you what's missing from this course. What to write about, where I get my ideas from, stuff like that. Maybe I don't answer this question because I think you should do it your way, not mine. Or maybe because I don't know how I do it. Or maybe both. Once you've done your writing bit, this course will help you with all the other stuff involved in being a writer. Writing involves wearing at least four different hats. Writer, editor, publication seeker, post-sale self-promoter. Here's what I can tell you about my writing. Sometimes a story idea just comes to me out of nowhere and refuses to leave me alone until I write it. So, I do. And, whenever I read a book that really fires me up, I find myself thinking, "I wish I could write like that." So, I just keep trying. I'll never write the best, but I'll always write my best. And get better every time. That's the "secret" of the writing "business," same as any other business. Always deliver the goods. I read voraciously, a habit I recommend to any author who doesn't already have it. You'll subconsciously pick up on what does and doesn't work. Characterization, dialogue, pacing, plot, story, setting, description, etc. But more importantly, someone who doesn't enjoy reading will never write something that someone else will enjoy reading. I don't write "for the market." I know I can't, so I just write for me and then try to find readers who like what I like. I'm not trying to whip up the next bestseller and get rich. Not that I'd complain. Nope, I have to write what's in my heart, then go find a market later. It makes marketing a challenge at times, but I wouldn't have it any other way. When you write, be a dreamer. Go nuts. Know that you're writing pure gold. That fire is why we write. An author who I truly admire, Kurt Vonnegut, sweats out each individual sentence. He writes it, rewrites it, and doesn't leave it alone until it's perfect. Then when he's done, he's done. I doubt most of write like that. I don't. I let it fly as fast as my fingers can move across the paper or keyboard, rushing to capture my ideas before they get away. Later, I change and shuffle and slice. James Michener claims that he writes the last sentence first, then has his goal before him as he writes his way to it. Then there's me. No outline whatsoever. I create characters and conflict, spending days and weeks on that task, until the first chapter really leaves me wondering "How will this end?" Then my characters take over, and I'm as surprised as the reader when I finish my story. Some authors set aside a certain number of hours every day for writing, or a certain number of words. In short, a writing schedule. Then there's me. No writing for three or six months, then a flurry of activity where I forget to eat, sleep, bathe, change the cat's litter... I'm a walking stereotype. To assuage the guilt, I tell myself that my unconscious is hard at work. As Hemingway would say, long periods of thinking and short periods of writing. I've shown you the extremes in writing styles. I think most authors fall in the middle somewhere. But my point is, find out what works for you. You can read about how other writers do it, and if that works for you, great. But in the end, find your own way. That's what writers do. Just don't do it halfway. If you're doing what I do, writing a story that entertains and moves you, then you will find readers who share your tastes. For some of us that means a niche market and for others it means regular appearances on the bestseller list. Writing is a calling, but publishing is a business. Remember that AFTER you've written your manuscript. Not during. I've told you how I write. For me. The next step is self-editing. Fixing all the mistakes I made, that I can identify, in my rush to write it before my Muse took a holiday. Several rewrites. Running through it repeatedly with a fine-toothed comb. Then what? There are stories that get rejected because the potential publisher hates them, but far more are shot down for other reasons. Stilted dialogue. Boring descriptions. Weak characters. Underdeveloped story. Unbelievable or inconsistent plot. Sloppy writing. That's what you have to fix. After my fifteen-year hiatus from writing, I started by using Free Online Creative Writing Workshops. What I needed most was input from strangers. After all, once you're published, your readers will be strangers. Every publisher you submit to will be a stranger. What will they think? I was far too close to my writing to answer that. Whenever I got some advice, I considered it. Some I just threw out as wrong, or because I couldn't make the changes without abandoning part of what made the story special to me. Some I embraced. But the point is, I decided. It was my writing. After a time, I didn't feel the need for the workshops anymore. I'm fortunate enough to have a wife whose advice I will always treasure, and after a while that was all I needed. But early on, it would've been unfair to ask her to read my drivel. (Not that I didn't anyway.) I don't know how far along you are in your writing, but if you've never used a workshop, I keep a list of them at http://freereads.topcities.com/creativewritingonline.html. Your goal when you self-edit is to get your book as close to "ready to read" as you possibly can. You want your editor to find what you overlooked, not what you didn't know about. To that end, I offer two resources. http://freereads.topcities.com/usefullinksforauthors.html contains links to online quotations, grammar and style guides, dictionaries, encyclopedias, thesauruses, scam warnings, writer groups, copyright stuff, etc. http://freereads.topcities.com/commonwritingmistakes.html contains a list of the most common mistakes I've seen in my years as an editor. I still reread it from time to time just so I don't forget. Your story is your story. You write it from your heart, and when it looks like something you'd enjoy reading, you set out to find a publisher who shares your tastes. What you don't want is for that first reader to lose sight of what makes your story special because you've bogged it down with silly mistakes. Authors don't pay to be published. They are paid for publication. Always. It's just that simple. And later, I'll tell you where to get some free editing. But there's a limit to how much editing you can get without paying for it. Do you need more than that? I don't know because I've never seen your writing. But if you evaluate it honestly, I Think you'll know the answer. As an editor, I've worked with some authors who simply couldn't self-edit. A non-native English speaker, a guy who slept through English class, whatever. To them, maybe paying for editing was an option. This isn't paying for publication. This is paying for a service, training. Just like paying to take a Creative Writing class at the local community college. By the way, I don't believe creativity can be taught. Writing, certainly. I took my Creative Writing class in high school, free, and treasure it. But I already had the creativity, or else it would've been a waste of the teacher's time and mine. If you hire an editor worthy of the name, you should learn from that editor how to self-edit in the future. In my case it took two tries, because the first editor was a rip-off artist charging over ten times market value for incomplete advice. That editor, incidentally, is named Edit Ink, and they're listed on many of the "scam warning" sites mentioned at Useful Links For Authors. They took kickbacks from every fake agent who sent them a client. (I'll talk about fake agents later.) If you choose to hire an editor, check price and reputation. And consider that you might never make enough selling your books to get back what you pay that editor. Do you care? That's your decision. The first, most important step on the road to publication is to make your writing the best it can be. ** PUBLICATION ** My goal is to be published in both mediums, ebook and print. There are some readers who prefer ebooks, and some who prefer print books. The latter group is much larger, but those publishers are harder to sell your writing to. I want both, because I want all the readers I can get. Thus, I advocate something of a stepping-stone approach. Publish electronically with a quality place, enjoy the benefits of free editing and almost instant gratification regarding publishing time. Later, if you think you can sell your book to a traditional print publisher, you have a professionally edited manuscript to submit. Before you epublish, check the contract to be sure you can publish the edited work in print later. If you know your book just plain won't ever make it into traditional print, print-on-demand (POD) is an option. Some of my books fall into this category. The best epublishers will simultaneously publish your work electronically and in POD format, at no cost to you. A lot of authors swear by self-publication, but the prospect just plain scares me. All that promo, all that self-editing, maybe driving around the countryside with a back seat full of books. I'm a writer, not a salesman. But, maybe you're different. I self-published once, in the pre-POD days. Mom handled the sales. I had fun and broke even. With POD, at least it's cheaper to self-publish than it was in 1989. If you're flying solo, POD can range anywhere from US$99 to over $1000. Don't pay the higher price! Price shop. Also, remember that POD places publish any author who pays, and do no marketing. Print Publishing vs Electronic Publishing http://freereads.topcities.com/printpublishing_electronicpublishing.html This site provides a comparison of the two mediums. Each has plusses and minuses. Even if you already know what epublishing is, take a look. Electronic Publishers http://freereads.topcities.com/onlinefictionbooks.html A list of the ones I believe are reputable and my criteria for selecting them. Plus, a link to award-winning author Piers Anthony's totally excellent in-depth analysis of many more epublishers than I'll ever list. How To Break Into Print Publishing http://freereads.topcities.com/printpublishing.html If you're at the beginning of my stepping-stone approach, seeking an epublisher, you'll probably just want to bookmark this one for a year or two. That's fine, because it's not going anywhere. I plan to use it myself in a year or two. If, on the other hand, you're ready for traditional print, use it now and I wish you success! Print-On-Demand Publishing http://freereads.topcities.com/printondemand.html What is it? Should you use it? If so, how? What to beware of if you do. ** PROMOTING YOUR PUBLISHED WRITING ** It doesn't matter how you publish your book. Self-published, epublished, POD, or traditional print publishing from an absolute powerhouse. Marketing falls largely on you, and the same things always work. Book signings, interviews in the local newspapers and on radio. Start with http://www.kidon.com/media-link/index.shtml. It will allow you to look up all the local media outlets in your area that have websites. If you write to them all, you're a spammer. Plus, it'll take ages. Look for the ones with a legitimate interest and fire away. If you find a stale URL, and I think you will, look for the name of that media outlet at some place like Google. Spend some time looking for the right press contacts, spend some time writing your press release, and do what you can. Most of these sites list email, snail mail, and phone calls. Since I live in China, I've only used email. Book reviews, author interviews, book listing sites, and book contests are something we can all do, regardless of where we live. Again, I'm going to give you some web pages to visit. Pages where I keep my resources, so I don't lose them. Some of the sites I mention do ebooks, and some do not. The POD option can help e-authors here, but balance cost vs. likelihood of gaining enough readers to offset that. Some are ezines and some are websites. Some are printed newsletters, some are printed magazines, and some are newspapers. This is just a starting point. If you visit them all, and you have time for more promotion, you can find many more. Book Reviewers, Author Interviews, Book Listing Sites http://freereads.topcities.com/bookreview.html Book Contests http://freereads.topcities.com/bookcontests.html Okay, let's get back to my overseas angle. Aside from two radio interviews and a seminar in Hong Kong, and some emailed press releases to the LOCAL media back in the US which may or may not have succeeded in anything, my marketing has come from the Internet. I have a website. I have a newsletter. I'm giving away a free ebook, the essence of which you're reading now. You found me somehow, right? Here's the type of message I receive often in email. To be more precise, in spam. If a million people see your ad, and you get 1% of them, that's 10,000 readers and therefore $15,000 profit and you only paid $1000 for those million addresses. NO!! It doesn't work that way. Need I use the words dot-com bust? My website is free. My newsletter is free. I don't buy mailing lists, I don't harvest email addresses, and I don't spam. I want interested traffic, not just sheer numbers. Do you think the Phoenicians tried to sell sails to people a thousand miles from the water? Internet marketing isn't a replacement for the methods mentioned above, but a complement to them. And by using it, I got you here. Your goal in marketing is this. There are certainly people in the world who like what you like. And since you like your book, they probably will too. But you have to find those readers and make them interested, without spamming them and without just "playing the numbers game." If you're an e-author, let me state the obvious. Nobody buys ebooks who doesn't have Internet access. Do they? So you definitely need a website. Traditional print authors need websites too. Even blockbuster authors like J.R. Rowling and Stephen King, who I doubt could garner any more name recognition, have websites. So does every long-established inescapable monstro-business like McDonalds and Coke. Okay, those folks pay web designers. I'm not doing that. I can't generate those kinds of sales figures. And yes, I've formerly been employed as an HTML programmer. But you can write your own website without even learning HTML if you want. It's no harder than writing a manuscript with a word processor. It won't be super-flashy like the big boys, but it'll communicate the information. Remember, you can communicate. You're an author! And that's what keeps people coming back to a website after the thrill of the flash wears off. Information. Content. Your specialty. I consider my website and my newsletter to be successful, and I've created a free email course to analyze how they got that way. Yes, there are legitimate ways to bring traffic to your website and your newsletter. Not massive numbers overnight, but slow steady growth over the long term. ** CLOSING THOUGHTS ** We've been talking about soft sell. Now, at the end of my free workshop, I'll tell you about 2 URLs that I think will help you and one that won't. You can decide if any are worth a visit. After that, I'll get back to the lesson. Books OnLine Directory http://freereads.topcities.com/ You've been to parts of it already and seen that it delivers something you're looking for. (I hope.) Don't forget to go back from time to time. Mad About Books http://freereads.topcities.com/archive.html My free weekly email newsletter will keep you up-to-date on the latest info as I find it. Plus, it has a certain goofy charm that the website lacks. Both URLs mention my books, but in the background. I hope you'll look one day out of curiosity or because you really like my generous nature, but it's not mandatory. Soft sell. From Watha, NC, USA to Shaoxing, Zhejiang, China http://michaeljan.topcities.com/ This site doesn't mention writing at all. I wrote it for my students. I teach English in China, and this is where I tell all about it. Along with a hefty helping of personal history and photos. How I got here, how I quit a job via email to marry a lovely Australian, dog and cat photos, stuff like that. Just for fun. It won't help you a bit. Now let's get back to your writing. That's why you're here. Here's something you've heard before. When your manuscript is rejected -- and it will be -- remember that you aren't being rejected. Your manuscript is. One reader took me to task for that statement, claiming he'd never been rejected in his life. I'm very happy for him. But why, if I may be so bold as to ask, would he need advice on How To Get Published? I'd rather he write some advice so I can hang up my "helper guy" hat and learn from a master. But I digress. You aren't being rejected, I was saying. Your manuscript is. Did you ever hang up the phone on a telemarketer, delete spam, or close the door in the face of a salesman? Of course, and yet that salesman just moves on to the next potential customer. He knows you're rejecting his product, not him. Okay, in my case I'm rejecting both, but I'd never do that to an author. Neither will a publisher or an agent. All authors tell other authors not to take rejection personally, and yet we all do. Consider it a target to shoot for, then. Just keep submitting, and just keep writing. The best way to cope with waiting times is to "submit and forget," writing or editing other stuff while the time passes. And finally, feel free to send an e-mail to me anytime. firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll gladly share what I know with you, and it won't cost you a cent. I would wish you luck in your publishing endeavors, but I know there's no luck involved. It's all skill and diligence. Congratulations on completing the course! No ceremonies, no degrees, and no diplomas. But on the bright side, no student loan to repay. Best regards, Michael LaRocca http://freereads.topcities.com/archive.html About The Author Michael was born in North Carolina, USA. He teaches English at a university in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province, China. Five of his books were published in 2002, and another is scheduled for publication in 2004. One of his novels is an EPPIE 2004 finalist in the Mainstream category. One of his novels was an EPPIE 2002 finalist in the Thriller category. He’s also won two Sime~Gen Readers Choice Awards for nonfiction. He’s proud of the fact that he rarely writes in the same genre twice. He’s listed in the 1982 Who’s Who In American Writing, but that impresses him even less than it impresses you. Michael has worked as an editor for the past thirteen years. For ten years he was responsible for all the tech manuals and sales literature produced by an R&D firm. He also wrote their website. Then he moved to China in 1999 and began editing and reviewing fiction for several U.S. publishers via the Internet. He has been involved with the publication of almost 200 novels. He also works as a legal transcriptionist for a Hong Kong firm. When he should be squeezing writing into his schedule, he is usually enjoying the company of his wife and their cat instead, or sweating through Chinese lessons. In July he finished obtaining his TEFL qualification, so maybe now he’ll find time to write. For more information about Michael and his books, visit his website at http://freereads.topcities.com/ which was listed in Writers Digest’s The 101 Best Websites For Writers in 2001 and 2002. His email address is email@example.com
6 Steps to a Remarkable Reapplication by: Linda Abraham
OK. You didn't get accepted at any of the schools you applied to. What should you do now? Deal. Get over it. And consider what you’re going to do next year. If you decide to re-apply, you need to assess what went wrong and resolve to improve it.
1. Determine what you need to change. You definitely need to do something different, because your previous approach didn't work. Don’t turn in the same essays.
2. Analyze your qualifications versus your target schools' average stats and requirements. If you are applying with below average stats at more than two schools and are not from an under-represented minority, you are relying on miracles and not applying effectively. You either need to improve your profile or apply to less-competitive schools.
3. Seek feedback. Some programs, particularly MBA programs, give constructive feedback to re-applicants. If your school provides that service, take advantage of it ASAP. You want to hear the criticism as early as possible so that you have as much time as possible to deal with any defects or weaknesses. Furthermore, some schools only provide feedback during a small window of time. So don’t delay.
4. Evaluate your application. Do your essays and letters of rec (if you have access to them) add to the reader’s knowledge of you? What could you do to improve them? Consider using Accepted.com's application evaluation service to help you with this step.
5. Work on weaknesses. For example, if you applied to medical school with limited or no clinical experience, start volunteering at a local free clinic or hospital. If you applied to business school with a low GMAT, study for and retake the test.
6. Prepare to highlight valuable recent experiences. When you reapply, you want to show that you are "new and improved." For example, if you are pre-law and worked for the last six months at the DA's office, you will highlight that experience, related achievements, and lessons learned in your resume and/or essay when you reapply. For a comprehensive guide on presenting a compelling reapplication, read Create a Better Sequel: Reapplying Right to Business School.
About The Author Linda Abraham, Accepted.com's founder and president, has helped thousands of applicants develop successful admissions strategies and craft distinctive essays. In addition to advising clients and managing Accepted.com, she has written and lectured extensively on admissions. The Wall St. Journal, The New York Times, and BusinessWeek are among the publications that have sought Linda's expertise.
Great Job Resumes: The First Step To Landing Great Jobs by: Paolo Basauri
How Important are Job Resumes in Securing the Perfect Job?
The function of outstanding job resumes is to get the attention of your potential employer. More than simply a listing of your accomplishments, education, skills and experience; a job resume is the first point of contact you have with the company with whom you are seeking employment. No matter what skill set you bring to the table, if your resume isn’t effectively presented, you may find it difficult to locate work. In the reverse, if you haven’t had a lot of experience, a polished resume that presents the talents and ambitions you do possess can secure you a job with unlimited potential for growth. Before setting out to look for a new job, make sure your resume presents the skills you have to offer in the best possible light. Many employers will not even offer an interview to prospective employees with lackluster job resumes.
Types of Job Resumes
Job resumes may be structured in several different ways to focus on your best qualities, while downplaying your limitations. Today’s employers are looking for innovative employees that will bring value to their business. Submitting a standout resume is one way to express your individual abilities and ambition. Different types of job resumes include:
* Reverse Chronological Resumes – These job resumes focus on your employment history by listing your previous employment starting with your latest position. Chronological resumes detail your growth as an employee and are best suited for people who have a strong employment background and documented experience. Educational information and additional skills are typically noted at the bottom of these job resumes.
* Functional Resumes – The functional resume gives less resonance to experience and highlights, instead, the skills that you have to offer. Functional resumes generally list your stellar qualifications at the top of the page, while providing some details of how the skills were obtained—including school and work experience—towards the latter half of the page. Skill-based resumes are the best choice for workers that are new to the job market, or have not worked in quite some time.
* Combination Resumes – A combination resume takes the focus on skills from the Functional resume and merges it with the employment history, for a complete package of your qualifications. These job resumes present the most well rounded details and can be used by almost anyone to effectively gain employment.
Seeking Professional Help for Writing Job Resumes
If you’re not certain of the resume choice that’s right for your qualifications, or if you just want the best possible resume, you might want to seek the help of a professional resume writing service. For a minimal fee, professional writers can formulate top quality job resumes that can be used to market your skills. A resume writing service will present your personal employment history and qualifications in a manner that will stand out to potential employers. It’s really a small investment to make for a profitable future at your new job.
7 Steps to Writing Effective Cover Letters by: Robert Moment
A cover letter can be the ultimate compliment to your resume. With an effective and well-written letter, you can impress future employers with details that cannot always be found in the resume. Also, a cover letter may just be the reason your resume is even read. Employers are likely to ignore resumes that are unaccompanied. A cover letter makes it stand out.
However, for a cover letter to work, it must follow certain rules and meet certain standards. Below, you will find tips to help you meet those standards. By following these suggestions, you can perfect the necessary art of writing a cover letter.
1. Take Your Time
A cover letter is essential to your job seeking process; however, many overlook it or, worse, devote all of the energy to their resume and then throw together the cover letter as an afterthought. This is not wise: Employers read the cover letter first. Do you want their first impression of you to be a messy and obviously strewn-together letter? Of course, not! You want it to be professional; so, take your time. Allow equal proportions of time to be spent on both the resume and cover letter; they are both important and deserve equal attention.
2. Be Concise
Potential employers want to read your cover letter; they do not, however, want to read a novel. You must keep your letter simple and to the point—within a one-page limit, you have little room to maneuver. Use your space wisely. Offer important and necessary details, things that cannot be found in the resume. You have to make an impression in a short amount of time so make it count. Brevity is best.
3. Find Your Style
Cover letters allow you to reveal your personality in a way that resumes cannot. While a resume is impersonal and factual, a cover letter can be laced with humor and style. When you write your letter, find a friendly, yet still-professional tone. Make the reader want to meet you. A cover letter is a first impression; make it an enticing one.
4. The Name Game
When possible, address your letter to the person who will be interviewing you. This will accomplish two things: 1. Give a sense of familiarity between you and the reader. 2. Show that you did your research on the company. Still, remember to keep it professional. Do not address the reader as “Sarah”; call her “Ms. Smith”. If it is not possible to determine who will be interviewing you, keep your titles more generic.
5. Turn The Focus On Them
Do not start all of your sentences with “I” or “My”. This creates a self-focused letter. Instead, try to begin your sentences with “You” or “Your”; this allows the employer to see that you are wanting to work for them, not yourself. With a little research to discover what the company is seeking for that position, you can focus on the needs of your employer. Explain what you can do for them; don’t ask what they can offer you.
6. Originality Counts
Show employers that you can step out of typical boundaries and create your own ideas. Try to keep away from standard formatting and see what best suits you. Include details that, while perhaps not always included in the usual letter, can showcase your strengths.
The final step in writing a cover letter is to read and reread. Check for spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. While writing a cover letter gives you an advantage over those who do not, a poorly written one will make you seem worse by comparison.
These 7 steps may seem obvious, but many people ignore them; put yourself ahead of the competition. Follow these suggestions and create the perfect cover letter.
Robert Moment is an author, business coach, and success strategist. He has successfully consulted with and advised hundreds of job seekers. His most recent e-book, “What Matters Most is Employment” (http://www.jobsearchrx.com) is a concise guide, packed with information and tips on finding and getting career–advancing employment in today’s job market.
About The Author
Robert Moment is an author, business coach, and success strategist. He has successfully consulted with and advised hundreds of job seekers. His most recent e-book, “What Matters Most is Employment” (www.jobsearchrx.com) is a concise guide, packed with information and tips on finding and getting career–advancing employment in today’s job market.