I don’t know why capitals make you crazy, but they do

It’s Tuesday Tell-All day at the CWILL BC blog. This week’s question is:

If you were to give one piece of advice to someone working on his or her first book, what would it be?

Well, you all know how the actual craft of writing is going for me lately, so I won’t bother attempting any advice about that. Instead, I’m going to think back to my days as the one in charge of a publisher’s slush pile. (For the non-writers among you, that means I sent out a lot of rejection letters.) Here are a few tips:

  • Do not write your query letter entirely in upper case. It makes you look crazy. In fact, if you have started a letter and it’s in upper case, you should probably head to the doctor for a preventative check-up now, before your condition gets any worse.
  • Do not begin your cover letter with the sentence, “As a grandmother of six and a great-grandmother of three, I can assure you that children love this tale.” Cover letters that begin this way always seem to introduce books about baby chickens, and there just aren’t that many successful baby chicken books on the market. Oh, and publishers do not trust your grandchildren or great grandchildren as reliable sources. 
  • Do not have your best friend from high school illustrate your book. The publisher will end up liking your story but hating the drawings, in which case you’ll have to tell your best friend you’re dumping her. Or, the publisher will hate your story but love the drawings, and you’ll spend the rest of your days waiting tables while your friend flits from soiree to soiree. Either way, the friendship’s over. 

(It was really tempting to hit the upper case button for this entire post, but I’m resisting.)

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