It is so frequently overlooked by aspiring authors, and yet if the cover letter you've written isn't up to scratch then the chances are the publisher or literary agent won't continue reading through the rest of your submission.
Think how depressing that would be! So, what information should you include in your cover letter? Well, in broad terms there are three key things your letter should focus on; you, your book, and the reasons why your book is worthy of publication.
Stewart Ferris from Summerdale Publications advises that, 'when writing about yourself, aim for a paragraph summarising relevant points about what qualifies you to write this book.
The publisher needs to know if you have had any publishing successes before, if you have any relevant qualifications for writing your book, and if you plan to write any more books on the same subject.
' Next you need to think about what information you should include in the cover letter that is directly related to the manuscript or book in question itself.
You only want to focus perhaps one paragraph of your cover letter on the content of the book itself, in order to give the reader a taster of what is to come in the synopsis and ultimately in the full manuscript.
Focus succinctly on the 'who, where, when and what happens' of the story line.
You also need to include reasons as to why your book should be published within your cover letter.
Think about why the publisher wouldn't be taking on a huge risk in commissioning your book.
Perhaps you have some contacts that would enable an easy advertising campaign for the book promotion.
Or perhaps you have completed a wide piece of market research which demonstrates that there is a real demand for your book.
Furthermore, you might be aware of ways that you could generate a quick and reliable market for your book - you may be a university lecturer with assurance that your book will become an essential text at your university once published for example.
Finally, remember that your writing is on show at all times throughout your manuscript submission, and this includes in your cover letter too.
So try to include one or two compelling sentences that now only summarise the essence of your book beautifully, but that also show off your linguistic abilities too.