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.
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.