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Cover Letters on Paid Market Submissions

 
DaneCurley
(@danecurley)
Advanced Member
Posts: 49

Hey All!

Still haven't joined the ranks of Rs, HMs, and xFs, but I have enjoyed the discussion/wisdom on the board. Let's cultivate more Smile
What are your standard practices on cover letters sent to paid markets as new/young writers?

I usually mention that I am a professional writer and disclose that I have not been published in fiction.
In one, I mentioned a published written interview I wrote for a sports organization - I'm not sure that was the right move.
What have you learned are the yays and nays? Is anyone even reading them? Do they matter?

Peace~

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Topic starter Posted : April 16, 2019 7:04 am
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1115

Simple is best unless a market asks for more (if they want more detail, they'll say so in their submission guidelines). My default cover letter reads like this:

Dear Editor,

I would like to submit "[story name]," a short story of XXXX words, for your consideration.

I have been previously published in [up to three markets, if applicable].

Respectfully,
[insert name here]

You certainly don't have to use this exact wording, but this is similar to example cover letters I've seen elsewhere.

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales

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Posted : April 16, 2019 8:08 am
Morgan
(@morgan-broadhead)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 133

I haven't been published yet anywhere, other than a short essay I wrote for Orange County, California's Literary Arts Center. My default cover letter reads like this:

Dear Editors:

Please consider my x,xxx word story "Story Title" for publication in "Name of Magazine".

Thank you for your time and consideration, and I hope you enjoy the story.

Sincerely,

Your Name

I would imagine they are really looking to see if you have any previous publishing credits. I don't, so I don't even mention it in my cover letters.

~Morgan

"If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever."
- Stephen King
Drop me a line at https://morganbroadhead.com

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Posted : April 17, 2019 12:19 am
jficke13
(@jficke13)
Bronze Member
Posts: 80

Here is a good resource on this subject:

https://alexshvartsman.com/2016/05/09/h ... er-letter/

HM x2, Vol. 34 Q4 - 3rd. http://www.jonficke.com

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Posted : April 17, 2019 4:16 am
amoskalik
(@amoskalik)
Silver Member
Posts: 438

My standard cover letter is very similar to those given above.

Some markets will also ask for a writer's bio, so you may want to develop one. Write it in third person and maybe mention your occupation, where you live, family, pets, etc. Insert a link to your web page if you have one. Keep it to two of three sentences.

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Posted : April 18, 2019 2:08 am
AlexH
(@alexh)
Silver Member
Posts: 254

I was advised to mention I'm a new writer by an editor of a well known pro publication, despite the fact I've been writing on and off for around 10 years (otherwise my template is almost identical to the examples above), but I'm not sure whether to include that any more. I've been submitting regularly for a year now. The advice I was given (and have seen elsewhere) is not to mention anything irrelevant, so e.g. a non-fiction credit or non-pro credit wouldn't be relevant to a pro market.

A recent rejection said something like "this is a brilliant story for a new writer," so I don't know whether they'd taken that as I was completely new to writing! I have used something like "I've recently started submitting my writing for publication" a couple of times since.

35: - R R R | 36: R HM R R | 37: HM HM HM SHM | 38: HM HM

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Posted : August 18, 2019 11:23 pm
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1115

I was advised to mention I'm a new writer by an editor of a well known pro publication, despite the fact I've been writing on and off for around 10 years (otherwise my template is almost identical to the examples above), but I'm not sure whether to include that any more. I've been submitting regularly for a year now. The advice I was given (and have seen elsewhere) is not to mention anything irrelevant, so e.g. a non-fiction credit or non-pro credit wouldn't be relevant to a pro market.

A recent rejection said something like "this is a brilliant story for a new writer," so I don't know whether they'd taken that as I was completely new to writing! I have used something like "I've recently started submitting my writing for publication" a couple of times since.

I said "I am previously unpublished" until I had a publishing credit forthcoming. It's basically the same kind of thing.

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales

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Posted : August 18, 2019 11:30 pm
AndyDibble
(@andydibble)
Bronze Member
Posts: 86

I often include if the story I'm submitting was held for additional consideration by a specific professional market, the rationale being that the reader will have more reason to think this story has merit. Your publishing credentials don't indicate that directly. The argument against doing this is that the reader might think they aren't your first pick. But I suspect that semi-pro and lower markets already know that it's common practice to submit to pro markets first.

I'm interested if others have thoughts on this.

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Posted : August 24, 2019 1:11 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2279

I often include if the story I'm submitting was held for additional consideration by a specific professional market, the rationale being that the reader will have more reason to think this story has merit. Your publishing credentials don't indicate that directly. The argument against doing this is that the reader might think they aren't your first pick. But I suspect that semi-pro and lower markets already know that it's common practice to submit to pro markets first.

I'm interested if others have thoughts on this.

Andy, never ask me if I have a thought on something, because I surely will. : ) But I normally preface it with the fact it's just my thought, and your mileage may vary. But I am an editor at a pro magazine (after the next issue, where we meet our final requirement--one year in business), so my opinion might have something valid in it to take away.

I would never say something was held by such and such magazine, and I've had stories held by several pro publications. It's been tempting, early on, to say this story was a semifinalist in Writers of the Future as well, but in the end, all these things boil down to the fact that your story was rejected. For us as writers, it's beneficial to know how close we came. This is very important information for us, and it's no wonder we want to tell someone how close this story was to selling to BIG NAME publication. But to an editor, a rejection is a rejection. Why bring up a negative? Worse, an editor can feel you are trying to bias them in their reading of it, and I know in my case that would bug me. I read to decide if I like the story, and if it's a good fit for our magazine--I don't care what someone else thought, no matter how well-known they are. That's their magazine. This is ours. I suspect other editors feel the same.

And to all, do list your pro sales. If you don't have pro sales but you have a sale to a well known semi-pro market, list it. If you are a rocket scientist and you're writing SF, list it. If you're a subscriber, especially if you've been one for a decade or more, list that, too. Keep it short and sweet. If you have no credits, there's no shame in that. Every major author you know had their humble beginnings. But personally, I wouldn't say I was a new writer, or that I was unpublished. You've already said something like that by not listing any credits. So just say here's my story titled X, genre, and word count. Thank them for their consideration and you look forward to hearing from them.

Your story, like a mannequin, always stands on its own two feet. The rest is window dressing.

All the beast!

Wulf Moon

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
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Posted : August 24, 2019 10:31 am
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 743

I do what Wulf suggests. One sentence and a salutation. That’s it. When I have more to say, I’ll say it. I personally cringe when the ask for a bio - I’m just not good at those!

V34: R,HM,R
V35: HM,R,R,HM
V36: R,HM,HM,SHM
V37: HM,SF,SHM,SHM
V38: F, SHM, P, P
Available for critiques - PM for availability.
www.rebeccaetreasure.com

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Posted : August 24, 2019 11:04 am
AlexH
(@alexh)
Silver Member
Posts: 254

I have a bio template-of-sorts now, but seem to cringe slightly and change it every time. Alex used to write about himself in the third person because he didn't like writing about himself, but now he's so used to writing about himself in the third person, it feels like first person when he writes a third person bio.

35: - R R R | 36: R HM R R | 37: HM HM HM SHM | 38: HM HM

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Posted : August 27, 2019 9:27 pm
AlexH
(@alexh)
Silver Member
Posts: 254

And straight in at number 1 for "Most Exciting Rejection"...

An awesome pro market suggested my story reads slightly too young, and I should submit it to a sister publication, which has a more suitable audience for it.

Now do I mention that in my cover letter?

Something like this at the end:
"Editor Person of Publication suggested I submit this story to you."

I'm not saying it was rejected there, but if my story is neck-and-neck with another, that recommendation might help edge it over the line?

35: - R R R | 36: R HM R R | 37: HM HM HM SHM | 38: HM HM

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Posted : August 29, 2019 7:12 pm
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1115

And straight in at number 1 for "Most Exciting Rejection"...

An awesome pro market suggested my story reads slightly too young, and I should submit it to a sister publication, which has a more suitable audience for it.

Now do I mention that in my cover letter?

Something like this at the end:
"Editor Person of Publication suggested I submit this story to you."

I'm not saying it was rejected there, but if my story is neck-and-neck with another, that recommendation might help edge it over the line?

In that case I would say, yes, you should mention it. Can't hurt.

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales

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Posted : August 29, 2019 10:36 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2279

And straight in at number 1 for "Most Exciting Rejection"...

An awesome pro market suggested my story reads slightly too young, and I should submit it to a sister publication, which has a more suitable audience for it.

Now do I mention that in my cover letter?

Something like this at the end:
"Editor Person of Publication suggested I submit this story to you."

I'm not saying it was rejected there, but if my story is neck-and-neck with another, that recommendation might help edge it over the line?

Absolutely mention that.

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" in Deep Magic Fall 2020 wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss the Super Secret "Character Agency: I Need a Hero!" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon. Click HERE to get yours!
NEXT MASTER CLASSES AT FYRECON ONLINE, NOV. 18-21ST. Click HERE before they are sold out once again!

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Posted : August 30, 2019 7:24 am
AlexH
(@alexh)
Silver Member
Posts: 254

Thanks both. Smile
After getting my submission ready I'm disappointed, as the submission window for this publication isn't until winter. D'oh.

35: - R R R | 36: R HM R R | 37: HM HM HM SHM | 38: HM HM

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Posted : August 30, 2019 10:11 am
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1115

Thanks both. Smile
After getting my submission ready I'm disappointed, as the submission window for this publication isn't until winter. D'oh.

That sucks, but at least you have everything ready for when it opens up! In the meantime, you can always send it elsewhere.

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales

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Posted : August 30, 2019 10:37 am
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