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My 100th attempt at a covering Letter

Hi all,

This is my latest attempt at a covering letter after taking on board what my 121 session advised.

Be grateful for your feedback.

Cheers Sue

Dear …..,

I seek representation for Killer on the Conch, a crime novel complete at 93,000 words. 

Scarred by her own experiences, newly appointed detective Alice Delaney investigates a brutal rape and murder in the tropical, tight-knit community of the Florida Keys. What Alice doesn't know is that she is being watched every step of the way by the psychopath who committed it. Never one to shy away from flexing the rule book, the tenacious Alice sets about solving this dreadful crime.

Drugged and raped at university years before and with the rapists still at large, the trauma has left Alice with a volatility that is never far from the surface as she actively keeps track of her attackers, biding her time to seek revenge.

Killer on the Conch depicts a frantic race for justice between the feisty yet troubled detective Alice Delaney and family-man-come-psychopath, Mark Lloyd.

I am well acquainted with the Florida Keys and its colourful history. The crystalline waters, palm-leafed beaches and celebratory atmosphere make it the perfect foil for fear of the shadows, and dark lurking dangers. This contrast runs through the novel thematically. If I were to compare Alice to anyone, I would say she has the inner strength of Lisa Regan's Detective Josie Quinn in the novel Her Mother's Grave and is prone to bending the rules like Caroline Mitchell's Ruby Preston in Sleep Tight.

I am originally from London. I now live in a small Wiltshire town with my husband. I was keen to approach you to represent me as you are actively looking for underrepresented groups and, as a disabled writer, I fall into that category.

I have completed a crime writing course alongside this novel, which has been three years in the making. This is my first novel and I have plans for at least two more Alice Delaney books.

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time.


Yours sincerely,

Susan Atkins

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Replies (8)
    • Hi there 

      I think this is great. However do add why you have chosen that particular agent...eg one of the authors she represents or her mswl 

      I think it may just be a bit wordy and I would think about cutting the sentence that begins The crystaline...i think it dilutes the rest of the paragraph and message. But thats only my opinion. Maybe with less adjectives and tightening it would read better. 

      Great letter good luck 

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      • Thanks Caron,

        You have made my day! I have been struggling with finding agents who represent the authors that I read as most of them are with Bookouture. I don't want to submit to them in my first round as I'm scared of getting a knockback. Does it really matter if I can't mention an author they represent? I have got a short list of agents who are looking for my type of story. 

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        • Hi Sue,

          This sounds like a great story! It’s great you know Florida Keys and this sounds like the perfect crime scene setting. Make sure you personalise your letter so the editor knows why they need to publish you. 

          Can I suggest a tight edit as Caron said? Try and take out redunbdancies and over-writing.

           Eg New graduate detective Alice Delaney is charged with the investigation of a rape and murder in a close-knit commnity in tropical Florida Keys. Scarred by her own past university experiences of date rape, Alice throws out the rule book and sets out to solve this brutal homicide. But there’s something Alice doesn’t know. She’s being watched. 

          Ie take out things that are a little obvious eg, ‘every step of the way by the psychopath who committed it.’  Who else but the criminal psychopath will be watching her? (Assuming she doesn’t have a horde of disgruntled criminals tracking her every move or the crazy date rapists from uni days). The being watched part at the end also leaves me (potential ediotor) wanting to read more about what is going to happen. Then next PG I think you can detail more of the back story. BUT keep it short. I like the following PG. “Killer on the Conch depicts …. But take out ’frantic’ (I’ve assumed this already) and ‘troubled‘ (I also know this.) Short and sweet is the name of the game. 

          BTW I’m not trad publsihed, but I did do a 4 year diploma in professional writing. And one thing the course emphasised is: if you haven’t caught the attention of the editor in the first 50 words, they won’t read on. 

          I hope this has helped! I’m interested to hear how you get on. 



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          • Yes, sorry, it’s great you say toward the end of the letter why you are a fit. Good luck!!

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            • Hi Adele,

              Thank you for your feedback. This is all very helpful. Alice is actually an experienced detective arriving to take the job in the Keys from London. She was born in the Keys.

              Do you think I should try and make this clearer in the covering letter? It is all in the synopsis, but I noticed that you thought Alice was a graduate to police work.

              I would be really interested in your thoughts on this bit of the letter.

              Cheers Sue


              I spent a couple of years living in Australia during my seven-year backpacking extravaganza in the early 80s! I'm hoping to go back with hubby when they open their doors as he has never been.

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              • Yes, I think indicating Alice is an experienced detective is a good idea. Is there a tension point  that having experience brings out? Is she jaded? Maybe that as she trained in the UK she has a different way of doing things and ruffles the feathers of the local constabulary. If you include this description in your intro letter you should indicate why. 

                That’s good you want to return to Australia! I live in Adelaide. We have been mostly sheltered from COVID but I think with our state borders opening up we should get a surge in numbers in the next few months. Likewise I want to return to the UK! Last time for me was ‘96 (sniff …). I lived in Wales for a while in the mid-80s. 

                Cheers Adele 

                PS: Pls disregard my ramblings if it all sounds like balderdash. You know your work best! 

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                • I agree that it needs tightening. I was told 4 paras is sufficient.Maybe Start with the para killer on the couch depicts…, etc. Identify your USP. What makes this stand out from others on the market? Is there a one liner you could include to capture excitement? Maybe something from the book that makes the reader shudder? Just a suggestion. Good luck. By the way I’m in the same situation waiting for responses so no expert!

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                  • Hi Debbie,

                    Thanks for your input. I hadn't even thought about taking something from the actual book!! What am I like!

                    There is plenty in it to make a reader shudder, so I will definitely do that.

                    Good luck with yours.

                    Thanks again


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