A concise and professional cover letter shows an editor you're serious about writing while letting your story speak for itself. Format it as a business letter, like the one below, and keep some of these tips in mind as you write.
City, State Zip
Editor’s Name ("Fiction Editor")
COMPANY or PUBLICATION Name<
City, State Zip
Dear Editors [though the editor's name is much more personal and shows you have read the magazine (so write it in if you can find it), you may not always be able to find it. Writing "Dear Editors" is a perfectly acceptable option!],
BODY OF TEXT
A cover letter for a prose submission should be no longer than one page.
The text should be single-spaced and in a standard typeface (Courier New or Times) and double-spaced between paragraphs.
Include the story’s title and approximate word count (ex: “Thank you for considering my story 'Urban Jungle' for submission. It is approximately 2,300 words.”)
READ THE JOURNAL OR MAGAZINE BEFORE YOU SUBMIT YOUR WORK TO IT! At the very least, read story excerpts online to get an idea of what the publication looks for, read the submission guidelines thoroughly and format your manuscript to their exact specifications. You'll look unprofessional if you send a type of story the publication does not accept (i.e. do not submit an intergalactic battle odyssey to a Gay/Lesbian/Bi poetry anthology).
To reiterate: READ THE JOURNAL OR MAGAZINE BEFORE YOU SUBMIT YOUR WORK TO IT!
If you have publication credits, list them, though keep in mind there's no need to list every single thing you've ever appeared in down to a second-grade contest. Just use what's relevant. This establishes you as a "working writer." If you have no writing credits, don’t sweat it. Don’t lie about your credits or go out of your way to tell the editors you’ve never been published before.
Feel free to tell them you are a creative writing major at an accredited university.
The closing should be nothing fancy. A simple “Thank you for your time. I hope to hear from you soon,” will work perfectly.
Encl.: manuscript, S.A.S.E
Always include an S.A.S.E. (self-addressed, stamped envelope) to print magazines if the magazine's guidelines ask for it. Skip this step, and you won't hear back from the editors.
Check out our helpful PDF!