Cover letter or no?



  • I'm just startin' to send out emails to publishers that accept open applications and such.

    In general, the contact is 'the art department' and the instructions are simply 'send a link to your portfolio'.

    Would you create a short cover letter to put in the body of the email, or follow directions to the letter and have it just a 'attention art department, please see link to portfolio, link, thank you for you time'?

    I'm curious since "don't waste my (*&^%$ing time" seemed to be a recurring and rather firm sentiment from agents and editors at the Seattle SCBWI conference.


  • Pro

    @Braden-Hallett I'm also curious about this and will check back to see others' responses!

    Personally, and I don't know if this is right or wrong, I did write a short and to the point introduction and intention but I put my portfolio link first and most clearly, so they can go see the link first and read on only if they're interested. I try to avoid describing my art like "My style is colorful and cartoony" (cause they can see that themselves from the portfolio!) and instead just tell them my background, relevant experience and why I'm interested in their company specifically.

    I also add my little glasses wearing cat illustration embedded in the email after my signature. I use a small optimized version to be respectful and not blow up their email, but also want to attract their attention so they click on my portfolio to see more πŸ™‚



  • I don't know who things go in US, but in Germany we send regularly email with saying, I have new work or I think I fit within this publisher. We write short message, put LINK to our online porfolio and important we put little 1-3 illustrations(I make one small banner JPG which includes 3 illustrations) to persuade them to click on our portfolio. If I don't have direct contact, I write, please forward this email to Your editors. ...

    Here example of the size or smaller, should be only eye catcher and doesn't increase the size of the mail

    Auswahl Michaela Heimlich.jpg



  • I haven't dealt with publishers, but when emailing art directors i've had the most success when giving a short letter which a) compliments the magazine and the art directors work and b) shows that i've specifically targeted that magazine - I guess the idea of being part of a mass email is a bit impersonal and a turnoff

    like Ness says, as long as the link is clear they can always disregard the message if they're only interested in the link, but showing a bit of personality and keenness can go a long way



  • To me, sending just a link seems spammy, I'd write something in the body of the email. Of course they want the link to your work but they also want to know that you are a normal human capable of professional communication so as long as it isn't super long-winded, a "cover letter" in the body of the email can only help. Just make sure that the link to your work and contact info is separated out and prominently placed and they can ignore the rest if they wish.


  • SVS OG

    I’m not an expert but I usually send a cover letter along with a link to my portfolio. I remember from a previous third thursday about how to get an agent that they mentioned that agents want to know a bit more about the illustrator. So perhaps sharing a bit of yourself can be a good thing too. I’ve also seen a lot of agency submissions policies that stated that they won’t entertain submissions with portfolio links ONLY. Maybe a full cover letter is not really needed but I feel sharing more about yourself is a great way to have that human connection with an agent.



  • Thanks everyone πŸ™‚

    I tend to overthink these things.


  • SVS OG

    I'm no expert either but I think that what everyone else has said is spot on. Just a link would feel very impersonal and they might feel that you've sent it dozens of other people in a mass campaign.

    Put your portfolio link first but then show this email is aimed specifically at them.



  • Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about the art of persuasion. One thing he said really resonated with me: when you try to persuade other people to do something, you got to think what is in it for him/her. If you can express why they should look at your portfolio in a couple sentences, I think it would be super helpful for them.
    Good luck. I am a fan of your artwork :-).



  • @ShannonBiondi @xin-li

    Also good points! Thanks πŸ™‚



  • I would go with a short cover letter, like @StudioLooong says I think just a link is a bit spammy. I would agree with @NessIllustration try to avoid describing your work but a little about you and how you heard of the publisher or work they've produced that you like, its a bit more personal.

    I understand the 'don't waste my time sentiment' but reading 4 or 5 lines of an email is in my opinion not wasting their time, after all that is their job. I think they are probably referring to a huge email the is not clear and full of waffle. Plus your work is awesome so personally I don't think you would be wasting their time.

    My format for emails is who I am, why I'm emailing, what my background is, what I like about them and sign off with how I look forward to working with them. oh and either a link to the website or attached low res samples whatever their requirements are.

    Hope that helps



  • @Phil-Cullen said in Cover letter or no?:

    My format for emails is who I am, why I'm emailing, what my background is, what I like about them and sign off with how I look forward to working with them. oh and either a link to the website or attached low res samples whatever their requirements are.

    That's a great place to start and pretty close to what I was thinkin'. Thanks πŸ™‚


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