Welcome to JPiC Forum For Writers! Please log in or sign up to interact with our Community.
  1. Welcome!

    Hello Guest | Welcome To Jacquii's Poetry in Color Forum


    JPiC Forum for Writers is an online community exclusively dedicated to the share of poetry and writing. As a continuing work-in-progress, our poetry forums host a melange of writing with new additions being posted daily. We encourage you to right now and come join us in our celebration of diversity with the typed word!


  1. Lurking

    MsJacquiiC Poetica Magnifique

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
    Message Count:
    5,998
    Trophy Points:
    198
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    In a cloud of smoke...
    Home page:
    Books:
    2
    Ratings Received:
    +134 / 1 / -0

    To submit your latest short story, essay or poem, you’ll need a cover letter—which is much different from a query. Use these tips from inside a creative writing program to help your letter make the grade.


    From reading thousands of submissions over the past decade, I’ve noticed that certain mistakes repeatedly crop up—and that your letter can stand out simply by avoiding these common errors.
    While working toward my Master of Fine Arts at The Ohio State University, I did what many writing students (and professors) do: I joined the staff of the university’s literary journal. Reading and evaluating fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction submitted by writers living across the country and beyond proved to be endlessly fascinating. And because I never let on that back in high school I had been voted “Most Disorganized,” I was eventually given an editorship. When I went on to earn my Ph.D. at the University of Missouri, I made sure to work on that university’s journal, as well.

    In fact, a great many literary journals, including some of the nation’s oldest and most revered, are affiliated with university writing programs. Part of the mission of these journals is to give creative writing students a hands-on education in literary publishing. But you don’t need to be a student for your work to appear in one. You just need to make it through the submission process.

    I’m happy to report that in my 10 years of working on a number of journals, first as a student and later as faculty, not once did anyone ever utter the word “blockbuster.” Nobody based an editorial decision on whether an essayist’s website was getting millions of hits. No one cared whether or not a short story fit neatly into some red-hot “urban paranormal leprechaun bullfighter” genre. All of which is to say that when it comes to submissions, editors of literary journals are concerned with exactly one thing: finding manuscripts that knock their socks off.

    That’s the good news.

    The bad news is that editors are only human. And fairly or not, a poor cover letter on any submission casts a negative light on the writer before the editor even gets to the manuscript’s first page.

    So what should a cover letter entail? From reading thousands of submissions over the past decade, I’ve noticed that certain mistakes repeatedly crop up—and that your letter can stand out simply by avoiding these common errors. Let’s take a look at an (entirely fictitious) example:



    Let’s turn our attention to the points numbered throughout in red:

    1. Is the editor’s name Fred or Sandra? The writer has probably sent this letter to several journals and hasn’t changed the name in all the necessary places. Also, the salutation should include the editor’s full name, or “Dear Professor Murphy” if the editor is a professor, or “Dear Dr. Murphy” if he is a Ph.D.

    2. Unlike a query letter to a literary agent, your cover letter to a journal doesn’t need to (and shouldn’t) try to grab the editor’s attention. Save that for the work itself. Witty? Snappy? Leave it out.

    3. I see this error all the time. I think it’s reasonable for an editor to be suspicious of a writer who doesn’t know the rules of punctuation. The period always goes inside the quotation marks. Be vigilant about your grammar, always.

    4. This advice might surprise writers who’ve worked hard summarizing their novels in queries to agents and editors—but, again, a cover letter isn’t a query, and the convention with literary journals is not to summarize the work in the cover letter. Let your submission speak for itself.

    5. If you’re submitting fiction or poetry, there’s no need to connect the work to your personal experience. For an essay or memoir piece, you can do it briefly if your experience is relevant, but you shouldn’t feel obligated.

    6. Of course you believe readers will like it. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be submitting it. Leave this out.

    7. Fun fact! But also totally irrelevant.

    8. It’s fine to state, briefly, something about yourself—your career, your locale—so that you come across like a flesh-and-blood human being. But I see this jack-of-all-trades thing so frequently that I had to mention it. There’s no need to prove how worldly and interesting you are. Let the work itself reveal your intimate knowledge of the kudu’s mating habits.

    9. Because this cover letter doesn’t mention previous publications, I might deduce that the author is unpublished. Still, there’s no reason to highlight this fact.

    10. There’s nothing wrong with the sentiment, but what the heck is the Pirate’s Booty Review? (Remember, she’s supposedly submitting to Cool Story Magazine.) Another careless error.

    Bearing all this in mind, here’s a revised version:



    Simple, polite, even a little boring? That’s perfect.

    A few additional points:

    1. If you’re simultaneously submitting the same work to a number of journals, it’s good form to include a statement to that effect.

    2. Check the journal’s website to be sure you’re writing to the current editor. Many journals, especially those staffed with MFA students, change personnel frequently. When in doubt, “Dear Fiction Editor” beats using the wrong name.

    3. If you’re submitting electronically (more and more publications are allowing this), all of these principles still hold. Keep your cover letter e-mail short, sweet and professional.

    All that said, if you’ve been previously published, then go ahead and include where your work has appeared. If you’re in a creative writing program or have won any honors, awards or fellowships for your writing, you might briefly include that information. Will any of this give you a leg up? Not necessarily. It might buy you an extra minute or two of an editor’s hopeful attention—at first—but ultimately the work will stand or fall on its own merits. Which is exactly how it should be.

    This article was written by Michael Kardos.

    [ Source: Writers Digest ]

    Attached Files:



    Posted By MsJacquiiC | Feb 12, 2012
    #1

We hope you're enjoying our forum!

Only registered Members have access to posting priviledges. Registration here is 100% FREE. Use the button below to begin registration or the form on the right to login to your account.

Forgot your password?

Share This Page

GreetingsGalleryOnline.com