Day 3: #atozchallenge
Cover letters – don’t we dread writing them? When so many magazines have an automated submission process, what is the purpose?
Why do a Cover Letter?
It’s a way to introduce yourself to the editor, and where I come from, an introduction is a polite thing to do.
It tells the editor the basics about your submission – title, word count, and is a good opportunity to indicate your familiarity with the magazine.
Things Not to do:
- Don’t screw with the guidelines. Read and follow them to the tee. Taking a gamble won’t win you any points but a straight up rejection.
- If you’ve developed a template, make sure you’ve updated the date, editor, magazine, story, and word count. Don’t be careless. It’s not only bad form but bad manners to call someone by another’s name.
- Don’t get long-winded. Editors are busy people. One to two paragraphs works fine. Remember this is a cover letter, not a query.
- Don’t address the letter, “To Whom it may concern.” It signals the editor that you’re unfamiliar with their magazine.
- Don’t wax sentimental about your personal life. It’s a distraction, pegs you as an amateur, and will likely land your submission on the slush pile.
The Basic Things to Do:
- Follow the guidelines.
- Keep the cover letter to a single page.
- Make it simple and succinct.
- Limit your bio to no more than a paragraph.
- Address the editor by full name and title.
- Be mindful of grammar. It matters even in the cover letter.
- Include your name, address, email, and phone number as on any business letter.
- Include the title of your story, genre, and word count.
- Indicate whether it’s a simultaneous submission.
- Stick to the format and font outlined in the guidelines; every magazine has their preference.
- Keep a copy for your file and link it to the manuscript you submitted.
- Update your submission log, including the expected date to hear back/or contest deadline.
What do you think about cover letters? Do they make a difference? Ready to find out, check out my list of Call for Submissions in the sidebar and good luck.