Formatting: Details in Writing
There are differences in how you would send an email cover letter vs. a hard copy you print.
For a hard copy letter, your address etc. (also called the signature block in an email) goes at the top of the letter. For email, it goes below your name in the email.
Emails require a subject line which is read first. This is very important as it may determine whether the recipient opens it or not. For a hard copy letter, the subject is in the letter itself. It is seen after it is opened. It might be the first sentence in the letter.
A hard copy is hand signed, while an email has a signature (which you should always double check, as your normal signature might not be appropriate for the email you are sending).
All cover letters should include the following, when applicable:
The reason you are contacting the person or company. A résumé should never be sent without a cover letter, for instance. Ask for what you want right up front, not buried in the text. Be as specific as possible.
You might want to include how you found this person or company, whether it was a referral or an ad, Internet research, or you have a friend who works there.
Convince the reader to look at the materials you have included with the cover letter. This is also why you write materials for a specific person, organization, funder, or company. Never send boilerplate materials.
Call attention to any elements of your background, project, or specific experience that will let the reader know that you know what you are doing.
The style you write in should be enthusiastic, genuine, and professional.
If there is something that you feel might encourage her/him to take you seriously, do not hesitate to include it.
Indicate how you will follow up. This can include a phone call, a follow up email, or a request for a meeting. This lets them know you are serious and not just sending out a bunch of letters to see what happens.
There are many sample letters for job searching and business on the Internet. You can adapt most of them for artistic activity.
Careers >> Browse Articles >> Resume Advice
Artists: Eye-Popping Cover Letter Secrets
Cover letters give a personal touch to everything you send out. People look at your cover letter first, so it deserves your attention. You only get one chance to make a first impression – and you want it to be a good one.
A good cover letter captures your reader’s attention. Attention is the first step to relationships. And relationships lead to sales. Have I got your attention now?
A well-written cover letter won’t guarantee you results. But you can be sure that a poor one won’t get you past “hello.”
“I have received letters that were two and three pages long. I never have the time to read about the life and times of an artist whom I did not know. When reading a cover letter, the most important thing I wanted to learn about this person was whether the artist knew anyone I knew. And when these artists mentioned a familiar name, I would spend a great deal more time reviewing the material.
“Recently I saw a cover letter from an artist who had run-on sentences and no break between paragraphs. It was impossible to follow what this artist was trying to say. Remember that with any writing you do, keep it simple and understandable to the general public. When you have only a short amount of time to get your point across, it is essential to be clear and concise.”
Few people can just sit down and write perfect letter first time in just a few minutes.
Writing is a four-part process. Think, Write, Edit and Check.
Be clear about why you are communicating. You can use cover letters to submit a proposal, follow-up on interest, or thank someone with a gift. Cover letters serve many purposes, but each one you send should have a single focus.
Know your audience. Take a moment to think about the person who will read your letter. If you don’t know much about them, this is the time to do some research. Write to a human being, not a job title.
It takes longer to write a good short letter than a poor rambling one. Limit your cover letter to three paragraphs. Keep each paragraph to three or four sentences. Keep each sentence on the purpose of that paragraph. I love the Flesch-Kincaid Index that gives you a score for passive sentences, readability and grade level. (You will find it in the spell-check Options in Microsoft Word. The readability for this post is 76.3 and the grade level is 5. That means you can scan it quickly and get the message.)
Set the letter aside for at least a few hours. Come back to it with fresh eyes. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes and see if it makes sense, is appealing and if you would want to go to the next step.
Review grammar and spelling. If you use spell-check software remember that it does not pick up incorrect word usage and watch out for auto-correction of words like “you’re” for “your.”
Aletta de Wal
Aletta de Wal inspires fine artists to make a better living making art in any economy. Aletta makes art marketing easier and the business of art simpler.
Artist Career Training works with part-time, emerging and full-time artists who are serious about a career in fine arts. Art world experts share insider information and step-by-step instructions in lively group telephone classes, on-site workshops and seminars. Personal consultations allow in-depth work on specific projects. Independent study is available through recordings and workbooks at www.artbusinesslibrary.com