November 1, 2016

Crafting a Cover Letter

When you query an editor, you must send a cover letter.  Some writers understand this important first step, and others…need a little help. 

Once I received a two-line cover letter.  The first sentence thanked me for considering the story.  The second sentence thanked me for being an inspiration to writers.  I'm not so sure about that, but this line came across as being insincere (and it did not belong in a cover letter).

A cover letter is usually one page and has about three to four paragraphs.  It should begin with a salutation to the editor.  Search the guidelines or contact page to find her name.  If you are unsuccessful, then use Dear Editor.  Addressing the salutation as:  Hello <insert magazine name> comes across as impersonal and I don't recommend it.

The first paragraph should start with the hook, an enticing one liner about the story or article. The following paragraph gives the title and word count and goes into a little more detail about the work. The final paragraph gives a short biography. Close by thanking the editor.

That’s all there is to it.  Your cover letter is critical.  It’s the first thing an editor reads.  Don’t ruin your chances of an acceptance by trying to be cute, clever, or insincere.  Make sure your cover letter is professional.  That way, an editor will be in the mood to consider your work.   

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