The cover letter is key. It's the first thing the editor will read, and if it's poorly written, then the editor will assume the manuscript is poorly written as well. Here are our tips:

1. Address it to the Submissions Editor, unless you've made a real contact with a particular editor. Don't pretend to know someone you don't; they're on to that little ploy.

2. Half a page. Repeat. Half. A. Page. You send in a cover letter that's longer than your manuscript, and the whole pile is likely to end up under a Duraflame.

3. Aim for simple and direct, letting the editor know what type of book it is and why it's unlike anything else already out there. Don't tell them you're just like Dr. Seuss or Judy Blume. You're not.

4. Don't blather on about how much the kids in your family love it. Don't include quotes. It's just an introduction, the editor's decision will be based on the manuscript itself.

5. Some publishers prefer query letters, especially for longer manuscripts. A query letter is like a condensed manuscript, and you have to give the editor enough of a feel of the style and language of the book that they'll be enticed to request the whole thing. It should still be short. Less than one page. But feel free to include a great paragraph from your manuscript as well as a detailed description of what happens and why it's fabulous.

SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW write a children's book?