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Guest Post: Cover Letter Basics by Sheila McIntyre Good

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Guest Post: Cover Letter Basics by Sheila McIntyre Good

Thank you to Sheila McIntyre Good for these excellent and concise tips, perfect for writers whether beginners or veterans.

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.

woman typing writing programming

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

Things Not to do:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Don’t get long-winded. Editors are busy people. One to two paragraphs works fine. Remember this is a cover letter, not a query.
  4. Don’t address the letter, “To Whom it may concern.” It signals the editor that you’re unfamiliar with their magazine.
  5. 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.

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