ACW Episode 80 – Submitted for your approval…

I swear to you, the hardest part of writing is not actually writing the story, but putting together the cover letter to the editor/publisher whom you want to BUY your story. I have spent weeks working on a piece, gotten it all polished and perfect, and then turned around and realized, “Oh crap! I have to write a cover letter too?”

Cover letters are quite frequently an editor’s or publisher’s first introduction to a writer, so they have to be done right. You have to include all the pertinent information in the letter without being too wordy and you have to sell your story in 50 words or less. After a few years of writing cover letters, I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of it, but still, every time I go to submit a story, it’s the same damn thing. I stare at the computer, its glowing screen blank except for the words, “Dear Editor…” and my mind is completely empty.

Part of my problem is that I quite frequently write stories that are not the norm. While I haven’t actually written the story in the cartoon above, I have written very similar tales. Imagine trying to sell an editor of a sci-fi erotica anthology on a story about an alien who collects and swaps genitals at flea markets for fun and profit. Or get them to buy a story about plants having sex in a Victorian garden, then devouring the gardener whole when he figures out what’s up. Yeah, that’s kind of tricky to explain in a cover letter. Still, I somehow manage to sell my stuff, and I continue to sell more stories every year so I must be doing something right.

My one bit of advice about cover letters? Don’t be an ass. Simple, polite, and concise always work best. I now know plenty of editors and publishers and have heard them gripe about cover letters enough to that you should never, ever start your cover letter with, “Dear Editor, I am submitting my masterpiece for your consideration…”

‘Nuff said.

About Cynical Woman

Cartoonist, Artist, Geek, Evil Crafter, Girl Scout Troop Leader and Writer. Also, a zombie. I haven't slept in I don't know how long.
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  1. Cartoon up! Today Cynical Woman looks at how to submit a story for publication… or not.

  2. @Cynical_Woman saw guy in the local paper who is a butterfly enthusiast. Had on t-shirt w/monarch caterpillar & thought of you & your girls

  3. @Cynical_Woman love the cartoon – agree cover letters are the hardest to get done – it’s like sales

  4. @RadioDentata You know, I’m fortunate enough to actually know a lot of editors and publishers these days. Makes it easier to pitch a story.

  5. @wellred70 We’re the caterpillar people now, aren’t we 😉 I have to see, it’s been the most rewarding home science project yet!

  6. @Cynical_Woman you’re very fortunate – but i bet you worked hard – to get that list 🙂

  7. @RadioDentata Well, a bit of work and a bit of luck combined, I think. Being part of EPIC means I meet a lot of editors/publishers.

  8. @RadioDentata But I did have to write and get a book published first before I could join EPIC, so there ya go!

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