Where can I find statistics to include in my cover letter?

Posted on December 9, 2008

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I’m using How to Publish Your Children’s Book
by Liza Burby, and the
Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market to help me submit my first book. In Burby’s book, Chapter 5 is about the submissions package. The author recommends including information to indicate the potential size of my book’s audience. The example is: “The popularity of middle grade fantasy novels … accounts for 40 percent of all book sales in the middle grade category in 2005.” Where can I find statistics to include in my cover letter?

The question is: Why do you need to provide the publisher with book industry statistics? Editors already have current information available to them. Writers aren’t expected to provide statistics. In fact it’s possible that if you do include book industry statistics in your cover letter, the editor might think you are showing off, or trying to tell her about the business. Generally speaking, you have no idea about the individual on the receiving end of your cover letter and manuscript. Proceed with professionalism.

I’m not familiar with Burby’s book. I usually recommend Harold Underdown’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books He is a children’s book editor and recommends keeping your cover letter simple. Include the title of your manuscript and “a brief and tempting description of your manuscript”.

He also adds that you should not include: your resume, marketing plan, endorsements, apologies, or a lengthy plot summary. In my own submissions I do include my resume, but on a separate sheet. Underdown’s point is, if you don’t have a long resume yet, it’s okay not to include one. I would also add that if you’re a member of SCBWI, be sure to mention that in your cover letter or resume.

I say forget about book industry statistics. Keep your query and/or submission simple and focused on your book, and the story you are telling. That’s the best way to attract an editor’s attention.

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