Helpful comments on Cover Letters

I asked on Writers&Artists:  (

Cover Letters: the USP

I’m struggling with a cover letter for an agent because I have been advised to add my “unique selling points.” The trouble is, I don’t have any. I haven’t published anything before now, nor won any competitions. I haven’t done anything weird or wonderful or attention-grabbing. Yet I feel that without a “peg”, the agent will toss my unread chapters back on the slush pile, making it seem that your work doesn’t actually count for anything any more, only your potential to be a marketing vehicle.


I got some fantastic answers – suddenly I feel a lot less boring.  It never even occurred to me that coming to England to write (or to be a writer, at least) could be seen as adventurous.  (“I came to England when I was nineteen to be a writer and some decades later, I find myself freezing in an attic flat working on a blog and a sci fi quintet so something must have worked….”)



(a)  You say you came to England to write, Susannah. You believed this was the place to come if you wanted to write? That to me, sounds like a story. That sounds like a peg. (Katie-Ellen)
(b)  I agree with Katie-Ellen. Coming to England to write may be only part of the story, but it takes a mountain of courage to make such a huge transformation to your life to achieve you goal. I take my hat off to you.

(c)  I would say that writing your blog (I haven’t read it – sorry) is writing. The lady who wrote a blog because she felt she’d achieved nothing ended up writing one of the most successful blogs which was later made into the film, Julie and Julia, directed by the wonderful Nora Ephron. Stick with it and perhaps you could wilfully find out more about publishing and writing in the process of writing your blog.

I would say that you have bags of courage and determination so why not put that into your blog while editing your quintet?

Good luck to you – I wish you well.  (Isabella)

(d)  I know how you’re feeling. I am also trying to write a cover letter and am torn between whether to include that I backpacked my way around the gobe on a shoestring twenty odd years ago. I’m worried that I might come across as too boastful and just another smug backpacker.
My writing does reflect elements of my travels although my life is fairly regular now (2 kids, hubby, mortgage)
Does anybody else have any thoughts?
Good luck Susannah (Susanne)



About susannahjbell

I am a writer of science fiction and other strange and surreal works. I mostly write novels and the occasional novelette. My published works include A Doorway into Ultra, the Fleet Quintet and the Exodus Sequence. I live in London in an attic flat but really want to live in a tree. I wanted to be an astrophysicist but would settle for an alien abduction. I write because I don’t know what to read.
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