Cover Letters

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jficke13
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Cover Letters

Postby jficke13 » Wed Apr 05, 2017 5:19 am

I was looking at the submission guidelines for Lightspeed and they link to advice about cover letters (pulled off google cache because the link was broken. For the publication history section, the advice is:

"If you do not have semi-pro or pro publication credits, anything less is not a substitute for them. This includes college courses, workshops, contests, university publications, and anything else that did not pay you Actual Money of at least 3 cents/word. Those other things are not examples of professional quality work, and including them can actually hurt you if the reader has a low opinion of any of them.

There are exceptions: there are fanzines with immaculate reputations; a contest that comes to mind that is considered very credible in the field; workshops that most of us would give our eyeteeth to get into. You know which ones those are, if you’ve published in them, placed in it, or attended them. If not, don’t list lesser ones."

Do you think that the "contest that comes to mind" is this one? And if so, does "placed in it" mean 1st/2nd/3rd/Published Finalist?
HM - R - R

Jeremyteg
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Re: Cover Letters

Postby Jeremyteg » Wed Apr 05, 2017 1:33 pm

My assumption has always been that placing in Writers of the Future (i.e. getting 1st - 3rd place in a given quarter) or being a published finalist would constitute a professional sale, considering you are paid professional rates for publication in the anthology, and would therefore be worth mentioning. Earning finalist in WotF is probably worth mentioning, though that might vary from market to market and editor to editor. I doubt many editors are going to care much about honorable mentions/silver honorable mentions. I have no idea about Semi-Finalists.
R x 2
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SHM x 4
First Place Q1 Vol 34!
Short story forthcoming in Beneath Ceaseless Skies!
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Ishmael
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Re: Cover Letters

Postby Ishmael » Thu Apr 06, 2017 3:28 am

I experimented for a little while with mentioning my SF. No obvious positive results. I suspect it ranks no better than a personal rejection in the great scheme of things and I don't think I'll bother repeating it, given that numerous editors only want to hear about your top 3 sales and I'm fortunate enough to be able to fill that paragraph.

SHM and HM are effectively higher ranking form rejections, though some users of The Grinder seems to rate them otherwise.
1 x SF, 1 x SHM, 9 x HM, WotF batting average .524
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MattDovey
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Re: Cover Letters

Postby MattDovey » Mon Apr 10, 2017 2:34 am

From a slusher: you can only ever hurt your chances with a cover letter. I scan the cover letter for two pieces of info (relevant to PodCastle): word count and reprint/original. Some markets only take originals so you don't need to mention the latter; other markets also accept multiple genres, so mention that (PC is only fantasy, so I presume the submission will be. Sadly this presumption is not always borne out...)

That's it. Nothing else. I promise. Keeping it short like that looks professional and leaves me in a happy mood when I start reading your story. My ideal cover letter looks like:

Dear editors,

Please find attached my 4000-word original story, "The Subber Who Did As They Were Told", for your consideration.

Kindest regards,
--The Aforementioned Subber


I'm serious. Any more than that and all that will happen is you'll look unprofessional as you include irrelevant info (no bios, no synopses, nothing else) or list markets that I haven't heard of. The only exception is if you have been Nebula-nominated and had fiction at F&SF, Clarkesworld and Lightspeed, and count all the top tier markets among your credits; that will get you a little extra patience on a slow opening as I trust you know what you're doing, but it'll never save you from a rejection. Naming the editors is irrelevant when most of the time it's an unnamed slusher reading anyway; don't waste time looking it up unless you know it offhand anyway.

Regarding WotF awards short of publication: they're basically a fancy rejection. I'm sorry. They absolutely are an achievement in context of the contest--I was so proud of my honourable mentions, and I still have the certificates!--but in the wider world, you're reporting a story that didn't sell. Better not to mention previous rejections in a cover letter.

If a market requests extra info--some specifically request credits, or a bio--then follow that, of course, but honestly, seriously, all other times: just stick to my example above.

My favourite article on this is by Helena Bell, including the concept of "Presumption of Competence" which is basically everything as far as I'm concerned.
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Ishmael
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Re: Cover Letters

Postby Ishmael » Mon Apr 10, 2017 3:06 am

I agree with Matt.

The one exception I might suggest is directly relevant personal experience, e.g. the story is about a deep sea diver who's been eaten by a squid and you ARE a deep sea diver who's been eaten by a squid.

If I remember rightly I told CRES when submitting 'The Wild Hunt of Sliabh Mannan' that I lived in the middle of Sliabh Mannan.
1 x SF, 1 x SHM, 9 x HM, WotF batting average .524
Blog The View From Sliabh Mannan.

katsincommand
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Re: Cover Letters

Postby katsincommand » Mon Apr 10, 2017 6:39 am

From my time as a slush reader, the cover letters that "tried too hard" seemed to be indicators of people that would be difficult to work with. You don't want to give that impression of yourself because if it comes down to choosing between your story and another, then that element becomes part of the decision.

There's nothing wrong with plain and simple. We all start from a blank slate. Your story is what speaks to them.
Dawn Bonanno
http://www.dmbonanno.com

SF 1 / HM 6 / R 16 / Total 23 Entries

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bobsandiego
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Re: Cover Letters

Postby bobsandiego » Mon Apr 10, 2017 5:07 pm

MattDovey wrote:From a slusher: you can only ever hurt your chances with a cover letter. I scan the cover letter for two pieces of info (relevant to PodCastle): word count and reprint/original. Some markets only take originals so you don't need to mention the latter; other markets also accept multiple genres, so mention that (PC is only fantasy, so I presume the submission will be. Sadly this presumption is not always borne out...)

That's it. Nothing else. I promise. Keeping it short like that looks professional and leaves me in a happy mood when I start reading your story. My ideal cover letter looks like:

Dear editors,

Please find attached my 4000-word original story, "The Subber Who Did As They Were Told", for your consideration.

Kindest regards,
--The Aforementioned Subber



This is pretty much how mine look but that;s because I really really hate Cover letters and so I do only minimum.
That said I really want to write the story to go with that title.
Literary saboteur
Blog: http://www.robertmitchellevans.com/
HM X 5
SF X 3
F X 0
Current Rejection Streak: 0

jficke13
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Re: Cover Letters

Postby jficke13 » Tue Apr 11, 2017 6:12 am

...

[/quote]
This is pretty much how mine look but that;s because I really really hate Cover letters and so I do only minimum.
That said I really want to write the story to go with that title.[/quote]

The Subber Who Did Not Do As He Was Told

Diego walked into the first floor office share, paper cup of street coffee lent a bitter aroma to clash with the scent of car freshener pine that inexplicably filled the air. The caffeine was worth the smell, sleep was a luxury he hadn't been afforded lately.

"What do we have, Jacobson?" He asked the patrolman at the door.

"Looks like a homicide, and a weird one," Jacobson, the baby faced boy in his blue patrol uniform, said. "Hey weren't you on the Dovey case last night?"

"Yeah," Diego said and tried to crack a wry smile. "See what you have to look forward to? Back-to-back homicide investigations."

"Well from what I heard on the radio, I hope this one's cleaner."

"Yeah, the fiction editor who went berserk and offed his mates and himself. I'll take a nice and simple one, thank you very much."

Diego groaned and sipped at his still-too-hot coffee and pulled the door open to reveal a one-room office felt like something from a bad period piece from the 1970s. Wood-pattern paneling walls, a fluorescent light that twitched on the edge of flickering out. Everything was a shade of brown or orange, even the upholstery on the ancient chairs sitting at the desk. The only colors out of place were the ficus growing in the corner, and the dead body on the floor.

"What do we know about this guy?" Diego asked as knelt beside a sandy-haired man lying on his back, sightless eyes gazing into the cheap fluorescent light.

"He's a writer or something. His computer was open to a cover letter he was working on."

"You read it?"

"All the way through? Hell no," Jacobson chuckled. "I don't have time to read something that long. It just kept--on--going."

Diego walked slowly around the office. Papers, what looked like a draft of a manuscript, and a computer monitor crowded the deceased's desk. Two windows were open on the screen, on the left half of the screen a web browser was opened to a list of submission guidelines for Dove Pub Quarterly, on the right was a word processor was open on the screen.

"Dear Mr. or Ms. Editor," it began. "I submit to you the culmination of a career penning perfect prose and forming the finest short story ever put to paper. In tandem with said story, I have developed my own font to match, and have presented it to you in said font for your convenience..."

"Does it really go on like that?" Diego asked.

"For like two pages. Might be a good idea to talk to the editor he was sending that to."

Diego swallowed his question when his eyes caught the fading red script splashed across the pages of the manuscript: "Do what you're told."
Last edited by jficke13 on Tue Apr 11, 2017 6:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
HM - R - R

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Ishmael
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Re: Cover Letters

Postby Ishmael » Tue Apr 11, 2017 6:18 am

Fantastic, but surely should have been submitted to some gumshoe magazine, not here?!
1 x SF, 1 x SHM, 9 x HM, WotF batting average .524
Blog The View From Sliabh Mannan.

jficke13
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Re: Cover Letters

Postby jficke13 » Tue Apr 11, 2017 6:28 am

Ishmael wrote:Fantastic, but surely should have been submitted to some gumshoe magazine, not here?!


Haha thanks, just pretend it's the ghost of Dovey. Then it's speculative?

On a related subject, I've never just sat down and written anything that short, and certainly never without any notes/outline/etc. But it was a nice way to warm up as the day starts.
HM - R - R


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