Your cover letter shouldn’t look like a sales letter. Instead, it should show measurable results in detail with concrete facts how well you fit into a company or family.
Create an action verbs resource sheet in alphabetical order and draw on those verbs to show what you can do or what you did that brought profit into the company or harmony into a relationship. For templates or guidance on how to write cover letters or follow-up letters and even book proposals, check out the book, “Cover Letters, Follow-Ups, Queries & Book Proposals: Samples with Templates.”
To begin writing your cover letter, use verbs that show action (active verbs) in a cover letter for a resume or a book proposal, for example, such as “detailed, activated, accomplished, adapted, advised, demonstrated, designed, detailed, encouraged, entertained, established, edited, enhanced, fixed, generated, identified, inspired, maintained, motivated, operated, persuaded, orchestrated, organized, produced, protected, provided, streamlined, succeeded, supervised, systematized, tested, troubleshot, upgraded, used, validated, visualized, won, or wrote.
The action verbs shows how you shaped your world, environment, job task, report, education plan, hobby, or work project. If you’re looking for a list of more action verbs, check out or browse the paperback book, “801 Action Verbs for Communicators: Position Yourself First with Action Verbs for Journalists, Speakers, Educators, Students, Resume-Writers, Editors and Travelers.”
Make your own list of active verbs that tailor your cover letter to your skills and accomplishments that help others solve problems. Select the active verbs that apply to your situation. The point is the active verb needs to show measurable results—the bottom line of how you will bring profit to the company or relationship. Be very concrete and detailed in explaining how you will do this.
Show how you will bring in something the other party is seeking
A cover letter, a book proposal, or a marriage proposal all use active verbs to show how you will bring in something the other party is seeking—either profit for a company, harmony for a relationship, love for a marriage, and solid explanations of how you will bring in what you promise. Think of your cover letter as a springboard or letter of introduction that brings people together. Without a cover letter on a resume, an employer will have to wade through your entire resume to find out how you will fit into the company.
Your one-page cover letter introduces your resume and communicates a specific message about your value to a company. A great one-page cover letter begins by pitching (in the first sentence) exactly what position you want in a company. Define yourself as a specialist; today’s job market belongs to the specialist rather than a generalist. A cover letter also serves as a powerful introduction to (or umbrella for) anything else included in the envelope and is a sample of your communication skills.
Magnet questions in your cover letter The first paragraph of your cover letter determines whether the reader will finish the letter. For your springboard, don’t let it sound like a spam-filled sales pitch. In the first brief sentence you need a positive magnet. Introduce who you are, your skills, or services.
Describe specifically how your skills will be used in the company. Draw the employer toward you by stating how timely your services or skills are to the company. Or use a magnet question such as, “What’s the most profitable and powerful resource you have?” You are going to have to position yourself first as the company’s most powerful and profitable resource.
Figure out how you can do it on the scale you are able to do by emphasizing gauges or measures of problem-solving
Then detail this kind of magnet question because it acts as a hook to capture your audience. Use this kind of catalyst magnet for employers, publishers, or clients.
It goes beyond the sales pitch letter even if what you are selling are your skills. The other side sees your skills or services as potential gauges or measures of profit, results, troubleshooting, problem-solving, or production-increases.
That’s what a cover letter is about: making your proposal irresistible
Your proposal can be your resume or an actual proposal for a project, book, or article. You have a cover letter as your springboard. Your proposal or resume is your treatment. The offer made by the other side for you to negotiate is your contract. So what’s your pitch? It’s your first sentence and it should summarize everything you want to say in one sentence.
For example, “Star Trek is Wagon Train in space.” Your pitch is not to be viewed as a sales pitch. It’s explaining what you are offering in your first sentence. Define and compare what you are offering to something familiar and universal.
If the employer, client, or relative can recognize what you mean, you’ve explained yourself. That’s what a cover letter pitches in the first sentence: summarizing and explaining what you’re there to do for the person who reads your first sentence. That first few seconds seals the first impression. So pitch in the first sentence of your cover letter without letting the words hint of a sales letter. Also you may want to check out the paperback book, “101+ Practical Ways to Raise Funds: A Step-by-Step Guide with Answers.”
Try using exclamatory magnets like ‘Velcro’ in the second paragraph of your cover letter
There are three types of ‘magnets’ that hold a reader’s attention and also motivate thought, observation, and/or plans for change or action:
1. a fear magnet—where you list a series of corporate or business fears and then tell how you’ll solve the problems.
2. a story magnet—where you briefly explain how you will provide benefits to the company, using professional expertise or media contacts.
3. an exclamatory magnet or surprising statistics —where you mention surprising numbers or statistics associated with your career that startle the employer in a positive way. Use statistics to grab attention and motivate the reader to think about you.
Give readers choices with pictures either in word imagery or in illustrations and photos
The religious and spiritual or inspirational markets want stories that give them pictures and choices and show how you solved your problems. The reason people read your story is to find out how to solve their own problems and make decisions. Give them information they can use to make decisions, even if you write fiction. Have some authority and truth in the fiction, particularly about facts and historical information.
People buy your story to make choices, including choices in the later stages of life or choices in growing up and making transitions. As people move from one career to another or from one stage of life to the next, they want to read about how you made that passage in time and space, and what choices you made.
Writing nonfiction, biography, life stories or fiction for inspirational markets
Life story writing should be more preventive than reactive. Biography writing is reactive because it responds only when people are in need, in transition, or in turmoil. What sells is preventive story writing. Give transformation, growth, and problem solving information so people will be able to prevent making your past mistakes. Show them how you’ve learned from your mistakes and pass on your wisdom, growth, and change.
Readers want to share your understanding. Put rewards and possibilities for personal growth into your life story. Don’t merely dump your pain and prior abuse on readers or your history of how you were tortured. That’s not going to solve their problems. What will is writing about how you’ve worked at understanding challenges. Look at your readers as your future selves.
Approach life story writing as you would approach writing song lyrics. Pick an industry and focus on the industry as you develop a life story built around an industry or event. If you write about your own life story, do interviews. Interview people who have known you to get a many-sided view. You’ll discover blind spots you would never have noticed about yourself. Treat your life story not only as a diary with a one-sided view, but as a biography. Interview many people who have had contact with you as you grew up or during the experience you’re targeting.
Writing the Forward
If you write a biography of another person as a book, story or article, or as fiction in a novel, you’ll need a foreword. This is what you’re doing as you first meet the person you’re interviewing. Have two tape recorders going at the same time in case one isn’t working properly. Get permission to record. Write what you’re doing as you first meet the person you’re interviewing. It should be about 16 double-spaced pages or 8 printed pages, or less.
Writing the Preface
What is the person most conscious of? What is the individual whose biography you’re writing doing right now as you first interview that person? What’s the biography going to zoom in on? Describe the body language.
In Andrew Morton’s Monica’s Story, Monica stifles a yawn and pulls on black leggings as the preface opens with the title “Betrayal at Pentagon City.” The prefaces summarizes the most important event in the entire biography. It should be about 10 double-spaced pages or 5 printed pages. Is your character going to be the right person at the right time in the wrong place? Or the wrong person at the wrong time in the right place?
How to start your first chapter or paragraph with immediate action rather than beginning with the characters in transit
Either start with the person immediately becoming involved in the action if he is not well-known or, if your person is in the news and a known celebrity or royalty, start with the date and season. It’s all right to begin with the birth of your biographical character if the childhood has some relationship to the biography. You can describe the parents of the character if their relationship has a bearing on the life of the main character you’re portraying.
The less famous or news-worthy your character, the more you need to start with the character involved in the middle of the action or crisis, the most important event. Avoid any scenes where the book or story opens and the character is in transit flying to some destination. Start after the arrival, when the action pace is fast and eventful.
You can make a great career writing true story books about people in the news, celebrities, and the famous. If these are the type of books you want to write, focus on the character’s difficult childhood if it’s important to the story and the character is famous or in the news frequently. To create the tension, get into any betrayals by the third chapter. Show how your character’s trusting nature snared the individual in a treacherous web, if that’s in your story. If not, highlight your main crisis here in the third chapter.
By the fourth chapter, show the gauntlet or inquiry your character is going through. How did it affect your character and the person’s family? How will it haunt your character? Where will your character go from here? What are the person’s plans? Sacramento is a city of novelists.
Sacramento is a city of novelists with some novel locales set in Sacramento
Focus on an industry or career, whether it be the world of modern art or computers to get the inside story of the people and the industry and how they react and interact. What is your character’s dream? How does your character realize his or her dream? How does the person achieve goals in the wake of the event, scandal, or other true story happening? Take your reader beyond the headlines and sound bits.
Discover your character in your story and show how readers also can understand the person whose life story you’re writing. It makes no difference if it’s your own or another’s. You may want to bring out your story’s texture more by adding a pet character and focusing also on the pet’s reactions to your characters. For information on possible religious markets for your life stories be sure to visit the links to religious book publishers and paying religious markets on writerswrite.com.
Counseling Anarchists: A short, psychological women’s interest novel
Here’s another set in Sacramento novel, Counseling Anarchists. An excerpt reads poetically in this novel, “The men who came to strangle me were shrinking my world like the most delicately tinted of bubbles, shrinking in ever narrowing circles from the upward gush of my own infancy. You’ve got to be crazy to see a psychiatrist. Don’t call me if you’re gnawing on a bad day, and all you want to do is have a discussion.
“We all marry our mirrors, someone who reflects how we feel about ourselves at the moment. Every wife is a mirror of her own husband’s failures, and every husband a reflection of his wife’s successes. “If you want to make money, you find a void in society and fill it. With more than 60 percent of women being snuffed, it’s no wonder a sharp promoter saturated the market with anarchists feeling their inadequacies.
“Their words fall like an embroidered saddle on a jackass. Remember when only female failures married when career success eluded them? Anarchists’ dolls don’t expand into motherhood. They’re squeezed into silver plated girdles where the only private space is a purse.
Or you might try this Sacramento author’s paperback novel for young adults and children as well as their parents titled, Astronauts and Their Cats. It’s set at the space station and is a humorous sci fi novel. If you want to write novels for kids or anyone else, you might take a look at this Sacramento author’s book, Writing What People Buy.
Interested in an ethnic novel about interfaith marriage?
Check out this Sacramento author’s paperback psychological novel of ethnology in The Courage to Be Jewish and the Wife of an Arab Sheik. Two other novels by this Sacramento author set in familiar locations include The Date Who Unleashed Hell and Verbal Intercourse. Also by this Sacramento author are novels such as Anne Joan Levine, Private Eye and Cleopatra’s Daughter. (This novel is about a modern interfaith, interracial Cleo set locally in California and NY areas).
There’s a copy at the Carmichael public library. Sacramento public library downtown’s local author’s section has the novel, New Afghanistan’s TV Anchorwoman. Or you might try this ethnic novel by this Sacramento author, A Private Eye Called Mama Africa. All the novels can be browsed at the publisher’s site online or obtained at most online booksellers such as Amazon.com.
Ethno-Playography: Sample plays, monologues, and instruction in writing multicultural plays
If you want to read a play as well as learn to write plays, try this Sacramento author’s paperback book, Ethno-Playography. It can be browsed online or obtained from most any online bookseller. The idea of combining ethnology with writing plays that portray ethnic-oriented experiences in the US in current times is a popular genre. Skit writing can be a 45-minute play script featuring the lives of seniors focusing on highlights of each life story.
Novels of intrigue with career women as characters set in Sacramento and other California cities
The novel is titled, Is Radical Liberalism or Extreme Conservatism a Character Disorder, Mental Disease, or Publicity Campaign? -When The One Universal We Have In Common-Imagination-Divides Us. A Novel of Intrigue. Basically, fiction through public relations techniques, is about making the world a kinder and gentler place at the local level.
The story shows how a curious anthropologist turned journalist returns tougher by experiencing culture through the eyes of media. But on the other hand, what happens when the media analyzes culture as a publicity campaign focusing on finding the perfect mother to the world?
Each of the author’s novels portrays a character, usually a forensic psychologist, psychiatrist, anthropologist, radio talk show personality, or curious investigator in each of the dozen or more novels, seeking to do good deeds and find out what can be improved to make the world a gentler place, at various local levels and in various time zones. The novel analyzes deeply the various personality traits of its characters.
The novels are found in the Arden Arcade library and in the Carmichael branch libraries, although some books are in the main library, downtown branch, the Sacramento Central Library. Several other of the nonfiction books by this author are in the CSUS library. In the novel, Is Radical Liberalism or Extreme Conservatism a Character Disorder, Mental Disease, or Publicity Campaign? -When The One Universal We Have In Common-Imagination-Divides Us. A Novel of Intrigue, set in Sacramento and in the city of Folsom, the main character, a forensic social scientist has dialogues on personality analysis.
Novel of Romance and Intrigue set in Sacramento and Davis, The DNA Detectives: Working Against Time.
If you enjoy this suspense story excerpt below, you also can read a longer version of it as a paperback novel, since in 2002 it has been published it as a novel and is listed at Amazon.com. It’s all imaginative suspense fiction with romance, and it’s available in paperback, set in a fictional Sacramento movie theater and in the rural areas of the region around Davis.
If you want to read more romantic intrigue fiction, see the novel from which this story is excerpted, Amazon.com: The DNA Detectives: Working Against Time. Basically, inspirational stories can take the form of fiction or nonfiction, life stories or short creative nonfiction, advice based on research with experts and their writings or focus on writing to motivate and inspire in factual, detailed ways, vignettes, or through creativity enhancement and solving problems in ways people can easily follow step-by-step. Inspirational markets are there for mind-body-spirit genre, motivational nonfiction, or any other category of writing from vignettes to plays, monologues, skits, or video and film scripts.
Intergenerational stories on healthy trends
Inspirational stories of children motivated for health or older adults working toward senior health have a special niche market that all ages find intergenerational as parent and child roles gradually reverse. It makes no difference what religion or spirituality essence you select, but writing a life story for the religious or inspirational markets is in demand and expanding its need for sharing life story experience in the form of books, stories, or featured articles and columns. What the religious or inspirational markets are looking for is sharing what you’ve learned from your mistakes or experiences, how you arrived at your choices, and how you’ve grown and were transformed, gaining wisdom that everyone can share.
Shorter, inspirational or motivational anecdotes or vignettes can be a start before you move the inspirational genre to a wider variety of life stories, novels, plays, or movie and TV scripts. See, Writing 7-Minute Inspirational Life Experience Vignettes. Do you write inspirational romance, historical, or religious romance novels or stories? Or do you write creative nonfiction using motivational, inspirational, religious, or mind-body-spirit themes?
Inspirational themes in writing
Romance novels and stories can have an inspirational theme to them as do historical works and other genres with inspirational themes, even mysteries and thrillers. You might want to attend a meeting of the local Sacramento chapter of Sacramento Valley Rose, which is the local romance novelists group. There’s a retreat for romance writers in May in Monterey. For example, May 13-15, 2011 was the sold-out biannual SVR Writing Retreat with Margie Lawson at Asilomar, Monterey, CA.
By sharing your experiences and life story, readers will learn how you made decisions and why, what wisdom you gained from your growth or transformation, and what made it possible for you to grow and change and become a stronger and better person. The stories you’d write about would be those universal messages we all go through, such as rites of passage, dealing with the stages of life in new ways, finding alternatives, and how you handled the challenges.
If an inspirational mystery story, play, film script, or novel writing is your field, you also can join your area’s local Mystery Writers groups in your city. First check with your public library main branch. Then check out the blog and find out more about upcoming meetings. See what’s happening in your city by checking resources for writers in your area. One example of local resources for writers is the site, Resources for Writers | California Writers Club, Sacramento Branch. Look for national societies or groups with chapters in your city.