As a novice writer, I had no idea that cover letters existed until I
attempted to submit my first short story manuscript to a publication whose
submission guidelines required that a cover letter accompany every manuscript.
Once aware of cover letters, however, I found myself confused. So I conducted a
bit of research. If you are just embarking on the writer’s journey and seeking
to submit your first short story manuscript, hopefully this article will assist
you as some guides on cover letters have helped me.
Grab your magnifying glass and come along with me to take a closer look at
this type of letter.
Cover letters are brief letters usually included with short story
manuscripts. Normally a letter containing one to three short paragraphs, the
cover letter is most often paper-clipped in front of your manuscript’s first
page when you are mailing your submission. If you are submitting your manuscript
through email, then your cover letter comes before your story as the main body
of your email, and still serves as your introduction. Whether you are submitting
through postal mail or email, your cover letter should be single-spaced, written
in standard block or semi-block format, and double-spaced between paragraphs. If
you are mailing your manuscript, then you should consider typing your cover
letter on plain white 8 ½” by 11” paper.
As stated, the number of paragraphs in a cover letter can vary. But,
regardless of how many paragraphs there are, some information that is usually
listed in cover letters includes your story’s title and your story’s word count.
If you are submitting your manuscript through mail, as opposed to email, you
might also want to state that a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) is
enclosed, and that there is no need to return the manuscript.
Here is a sample cover letter:
Your City, State/Country Postal Code
Your Telephone Number
Your Email Address
Title of Publication
City, State/Country Postal Code
Dear Editor’s Name:
Please consider my 2,500-word, previously unpublished manuscript, “Your
Story’s Title,” for publication at Any Title Magazine. A self-addressed,
stamped envelope is enclosed for your reply. There is no need to return the
manuscript should my story not interest you.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
What you should not include in your cover letter is an in-depth description
of your story. I have also recently noticed some submission guidelines where the
editors stressed for writers not to include photographs of themselves along with
their submissions. Be sure to always read a publication's most current
guidelines, and only send what the editors require you to send. Disobeying
submission guidelines can sometimes mean an automatic rejection of your short
Not every editor will require you to send cover letters with your short story
manuscripts, but when a cover letter is required, try to think of your cover
letter as more of a courteous, introductory tool, rather than a sales pitch. Let
your cover letter introduce you, and let your story speak for itself. Here's to
more acceptances and less rejections.
© C. M. Clifton