My Standard Cover Letter for Fiction

Occasionally, I come across a discussion of what one should put into one’s cover letter when submitting a story to a magazine. I don’t ever recall sweating over my cover letters after an early rejection I received from A. J. Budrys, then editing Tomorrow Science Fiction. He told me that, for him, cover letters were unnecessary, but that if I did include a cover letter, I should keep it brief and to the point. Below are four cover letters for four stories that I sold. The first three letters are the cover letter I used for my first two story sales. The last letter is the letter I used for my most recent story sale. In each case, I tried to keep them brief, and to the point.

1. When I Kissed the Learned Astronomer (InterGalactic Medicine Show, July 2007)

This was the first story I ever sold, meaning that at the time I submitted it, I had no credits to my name. Here is the letter I sent to Edmund Schubert, Editor of InterGalactic Medicine Show in 2006.

Dear Mr. Schubert,

Please consider the attached story, “When I Kissed the Learned Astronomer” for publication in the Intergalactic Medicine Show.  My name, address, phone number and email address are included on the attached manuscript, and also listed below.

Thanks in advance for your consideration.

Sincerely,

2. Hindsight In Neon (Apex Magazine, April 2009)

This is the letter for the second story I sold. I had one credit to my name. Also, the title was changed from “The Last S.F. Writer” to “Hindsight, In Neon” after it was published. Michael Burstein was guest editing this particular issue of the magazine. I knew Michael, and that is why the salutation reads, “Dear Michael,” instead of “Dear Mr. Burstein.” Here is my cover letter:

Dear Michael,

Please consider the attached 2,400 word short story, “The Last S.F. Writer” for publication in APEX Magazine’s special issue on “the slipperiness of history and the dangers of forgetting the past.”

My fiction has previously appeared in Orson Scott Card’s INTERGALACTIC MEDICINE SHOW.

Thanks in advance for your consideration.

Sincerely,

3. Take One for the Road (Analog, June 2011)

I included this letter because it marks my first sale to Analog. I also included it as an example of what I did when an editor (Stan Schmidt, in this case) had rejected stories of mine in the past, but asked me to submit more stories. I was never quite certain how to remind an editor about this. Here’s what I did in the case of Analog, and in this case, it worked for me.

Dear Dr. Schmidt,

Please consider the enclosed 4,900 word short story, “Take One for the Road” for publication in ANALOG.  On a couple of occasions in the past, you’ve asked to see more stories from me.  It’s been a while since I sent the last one (the birth of our first child intervened) but I hope the enclosed story meets your standards.  I’ve also enclosed a copy of the last letter you sent me as a reminder of your request.

My fiction has appeared in Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, Apex Magazine, and the DESCENDED FROM DARKNESS anthology.

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Sincerely,

4. Gemma Barrows Comes to Cooperstown (InterGalactic Medicine Show, May 2015)

Here is my most recent cover letter. Still as brief as ever. Note that in this case, I don’t list credits. Edmund had already published 3 of my stories, and an entire column of book reviews. Edmund, by this time, was also a friend, so this is an example of a cover letter for a market to which I have sold many times:

Edmund,

Attached is a 6,600 word s.f. story for you to consider for IGMS, titled, “Gemma Barrows Comes to Cooperstown.” In another life, I think I would be a baseball sportswriter. This story is from that other life.

Thanks in advance for your consideration.

Best,

J

P.S.: I can’t remember if you told me if you’d be attending RavenCon in April. If so, I look forward to seeing you there.

In each of these cases, I sold the story in question. I’ve sold 11 stories all together, and at least as many nonfiction pieces. In each of these cases, the cover letters use the same general template as the ones above. I will be forever grateful to A. J. Budry’s for taking the time to give me advice on cover letters. It has saves me a lot of time, and I have never sweated over a letter since.

One thought on “My Standard Cover Letter for Fiction

  1. I’m amused to read this. When I edited that special issue of Apex, I pretty much ignored every cover letter until after I read each story, and then I would go back to the letter. I tend to see cover letters as ways of letting an assistant editor or a slush reader know that this particular writer (i.e., me) has credentials or a prior relationship with the market, so they know to bump it up to the main editor. But in the case of my editing that issue of Apex, I was going to be reading every story myself anyway, so the cover letters were kind of superfluous.

    That said, I always recommend sending cover letters just like the ones you show here. It’s the polite thing to do.

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