Oh, and About That Cover Letter

You remember the one. Here’s the story on that. It’s the work of a friend of mine, and was specifically designed to terrify an editor. Which it did. So well done him.

I realize that some of you will be disappointed that Violet Thunder is no more real than TSWOTNDBOTDC, but now all the editors dreading the arrival of that particular cover letter and four sample pages can breathe easier.

And no, I never believed (nor said) it was an actual cover letter. I did say that those who doubted its veracity should ask editors they know if they’ve ever had a cover letter like it. I suspect most editors can tell you about cover letters they’ve received which were just as bad or worse. In other words, it’s not funny because it’s a parody; it’s funny because it’s all too true. It’s also terrifying for that reason, albeit mostly only to editors.

However, the admonition I gave you about that cover letter — i.e., don’t do this, ever — still holds true. Oh so very true.


24 Comments on “Oh, and About That Cover Letter”

  1. So how do I convey a proper sense of the revolutionary, transformative nature of my yet-to-be-completed novel such that a prospective agent can appreciate the inevitable bidding war it will touch off that will change the face of publishing forever?

  2. When I was slush reading, I saw some bad cover letters, but I usually ignored the cover letters until I had a look at the story.

  3. Bianca – I'm a student, studying English (I speak it, yes...) and German for funsies. I'm also a wannabe writer. I say wannabe because I write, only when inspiration hits me like a brick in the face. But then, like all bricks do, it falls and I notice other things that need to be done. This blog is dedicated to writing and other sorts of wonderful things... and all sorts of non-wonderful things.

    Man. That sucks. I believed it. I mean, after the author blow-up, anything is possible.

  4. Hmmm… he says he’ll write that story for the right price. Maybe we should pass the hat around, or even better, get it written up as part of a sequel to Clash of The Geeks.

  5. Frank Cote – I am an aspiring Writer, new father and general layabout who hopes to one day write words that people will care about or at least be entertained by.
    Frank Cote

    Does this mean I can steal the idea and write a novel based on that letter now?

    Can I? Please please please?

  6. So all the people who noticed a dissonance between the content of the letter and the actual writing with which that content was conveyed, actually were right. In other words, yes, it was too well-written to be what it seemed.

  7. I never thought it was supposed to be a trick. If you read Jon’s comments, he makes clear it is a parody/homage to a bad cover letter.

  8. Hah! I knew it!

    (Actually, I thought you wrote the cover letter. It’s got unicorns farting glitter.)

    And the title of TSWOTNDBOTDC was obviously from the Publisher’s Lunch (or Tor.com, or Galleycat, I forget which) common-words-in-SFF-titles article.

    Still, 2 wonderful April jokes. Salud!

    TK Kenyon

  9. You’re thinking sal#ud. Salud is Spanish.
    Some room for cross language puns maybe, though I always thought “burro” was ripe for that.

  10. Rik’s splatted word is “salaud” for those who don’t speak French.

    I have a gutter mouth in several languages–calisse de tabernac!

  11. Is nothing sacred? Next you’re going to tell me unicorns don’t exist either, aren’t you? Can’t a girl still have her fantasies??? Because that letter was nothing short of magical. I wanted to believe… and now… now I have to question every long-cherished hope of a world within our world… .
    But seriously? Your friend is clearly a kick-ass writer, because that letter rocked. Parody, cautionary tale, who cares? It takes real talent to write shit so bad that it’s actually good. I gave it a 10 for shrewd skewering and entertainment value, not to mention that it made me laugh out loud and smile long afterwards.

  12. Alan @20 – you’re right but I think you mispelled it a wee bit; it is Phaluhphpheee — triple “e” being a phonetic feline homage to meeeow.

  13. @Julia S
    My brother’s (French) wife tells me that English is full of unintentional obscenity. Take cul-de-sac: “that’s not very nice, is it?” – huh? – ” ‘arse of the bag’ “…

  14. why, in fantasy is there never an industrial revolution? come on, elves in tanks! one CAN simply blitzkrieg into mordor.

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