Cover Letters on Paid Market Submissions

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DaneCurley
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Cover Letters on Paid Market Submissions

Postby DaneCurley » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:04 am

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 :)

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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disgruntledpeony
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Re: Cover Letters on Paid Market Submissions

Postby disgruntledpeony » Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:08 pm

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.
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Re: Cover Letters on Paid Market Submissions

Postby morganb » Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:19 am

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.

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Re: Cover Letters on Paid Market Submissions

Postby jficke13 » Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:16 am

Here is a good resource on this subject:

https://alexshvartsman.com/2016/05/09/h ... er-letter/
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Re: Cover Letters on Paid Market Submissions

Postby amoskalik » Thu Apr 18, 2019 6:08 am

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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Re: Cover Letters on Paid Market Submissions

Postby AlexH » Mon Aug 19, 2019 3:23 am

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.
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Re: Cover Letters on Paid Market Submissions

Postby disgruntledpeony » Mon Aug 19, 2019 3:30 am

AlexH wrote: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 a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain

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Andy Dibble
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Re: Cover Letters on Paid Market Submissions

Postby Andy Dibble » Sat Aug 24, 2019 5:11 am

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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Re: Cover Letters on Paid Market Submissions

Postby Wulf Moon » Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:31 pm

Andy Dibble wrote: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
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Re: Cover Letters on Paid Market Submissions

Postby RSchibler » Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:04 pm

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!
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Re: Cover Letters on Paid Market Submissions

Postby AlexH » Wed Aug 28, 2019 1:27 am

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.
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Probably free for critique swaps, but double-check in case I'm away.
If you're a new writer and concerned about giving a critique, you're welcome to send me something anyway. :)

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Re: Cover Letters on Paid Market Submissions

Postby AlexH » Thu Aug 29, 2019 11:12 pm

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 ?

Probably free for critique swaps, but double-check in case I'm away.
If you're a new writer and concerned about giving a critique, you're welcome to send me something anyway. :)

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Re: Cover Letters on Paid Market Submissions

Postby disgruntledpeony » Fri Aug 30, 2019 2:36 am

AlexH wrote: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 a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain

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Re: Cover Letters on Paid Market Submissions

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:24 am

AlexH wrote: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.
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Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Cover Letters on Paid Market Submissions

Postby AlexH » Fri Aug 30, 2019 2:11 pm

Thanks both. :)

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 ?

Probably free for critique swaps, but double-check in case I'm away.
If you're a new writer and concerned about giving a critique, you're welcome to send me something anyway. :)

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Re: Cover Letters on Paid Market Submissions

Postby disgruntledpeony » Fri Aug 30, 2019 2:37 pm

AlexH wrote:Thanks both. :)

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 a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain

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