How to write a cover letter?

Writing cover letters when submitting short stories isn't as hard as you think. A lot of inexperienced writers wrongly assume that your cover letter needs to describe your submission.

What's the purpose of a cover letter?

Try to consider that the process of submitting short stories for journals magazines or competitions is the literary equivalent of applying for a job.

The purpose of attaching a cover letter is to very briefly introduce yourself in a professional way, but always check the submission guidelines of the publication you are applying to, as many have their own strict criteria.

A checklist for writing a top cover letter

  • Always try to address your cover letter to a specific person, usually the fiction editor. Their name can be easily found out by checking their website. If you can't find their name, make it addressable to a colleague so it will show you at least tried. Your cover letter will be forwarded to the correct person.
  • Include your name, address and contact details at the top of the letter,rather like a cover letter you would include when sending out CVs.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Never take up more than a page.
  • Introduce yourself briefly and keep it short.
  • Always include relevant literary achievements such as previous publications or wins in story competitions.
  • Thank the recipient for considering your work.
  • End your letter formally.
Always make sure your grammar and punctuation is correct!

Example of a cover letter

Excellent Writer
5 Great story street
Dear John Smith,
Please find enclosed my short story "The best story ever."
I live in Storyshire and work as a dentist.
I really enjoy reading your publication Great Story Magazine and am hopeful you will enjoy reading my story.
Thank you for your consideration.
Excellent Writer
There you have it, that's all there is to it.


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