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Cover Letters

Let me tell you what I look for (and don't look for) in a cover letter.

What I want to see:

Dear Editor,

Enclosed is my story, [Title], of approximately X words. [One to two sentences about who you are and how you are an under-represented minority, where applicable.] I have previously been published in [venues] and have been nominated for/won the [award] prize.

Thank you for considering my work.

[Author]

What I don't want to see:

* A long personal history
* Descriptions of your unpublished novels
* A paragraph about how you were published in 95 junk publications
* Self-published credentials listed as legitimate credentials
* Spelling and grammar errors
* A cover letter addressed to the wrong publication
* A statement of who your favorite authors are or who most influenced your writing
* A summary of your story
* A description of what your story "means"
* The whole story embedded in the body of your email
* Huge irrelevant jpegs ("Look! A garden background!" "Look, here's me, on a rock!")
* Solicitations to promote the work you haven't actually completed yet
* Any statement of the type "This work is a good fit for your publication because...", "I feel this story is a good fit for your publication...", "This story fits with your mission because...", etc.
* A statement of how much you like/appreciate our mission and our work, while attaching a story which goes directly against it or has nothing to do with it at all
* A statement that you know your story probably isn't what we're looking for, but you decided to send it anyway
* A statement that you carefully read our guidelines, and your story complies with them, while attaching a story that goes completely against the guidelines
* Impersonation of someone else (another author, some random other person on the internet)

I'm probably preaching to the choir posting this here, but it needs to be said somewhere.

Dash

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
fantasyecho
Apr. 14th, 2011 03:59 pm (UTC)
Sounds like it would make a great bingo card!
spacehawk
May. 3rd, 2011 05:50 am (UTC)
We also get a large number of submissions in which an author writes (poorly) about forms of oppression that he or she has never experienced, because the author thinks magazine about diversity ---> stories about marginalized people being oppressed (even though we say over and over in the guidelines that this is not what we are about).
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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