The following comment was left on the blog recently –
"What about submission letters to The People’s Friend? How do you write those? Can you send it by email as well?"
Good question and as I don't think I've ever done a post on submission letters (or covering letters as they're often known), I decided to put that right.
The covering letter, for any submission, should contain –
1) Your real name (even if you write under a pen name they'll need to know your real one for the contract and payments).
2) Your contact details – postal address and email, possibly your phone number too. (Personally I don't include mine as it's almost impossible to reach me by phone and I don't want editors wasting their time trying).
3) The title of your story. (This might well be changed, but you still have to call it something!)
4) Your pen name, if you are using one. It's common to put something like 'by Patsy Collins, writing as Pasty Clown'.
5) The approximate word count. It's common to round this up or down, so if (for example) the requirements are for a 1,000 word story, you know they allow 10% leeway and your story is 1,097 words, you'd state it was 1,000 words.
6) Anything else requested in the magazine's guidelines.
Some editors request a synopsis of the story. You must provide this if requested, but don't do it otherwise.
I've not come across it with womags, but some other markets ask for a short biography, or for authors to give details of their publication history.
7) If the editor has requested stories in a particular genre, length etc it may be helpful to state yours complies with that. It may also be helpful to state if your story is time sensitive or seasonal.
That looks like a long list, but it shouldn't be a long letter!
The covering letter, for any publication, should not contain –
1) Anything not asked for in the guidelines and/or not relevant to the submission. When the editor is dealing with submissions she won't want, and won't have time, for anything else. Give her everything she needs and nothing else.
Some magazines will state that no cover letter is required. In that case put all the information on the first page and start the story underneath.
Whether or not you use a covering letter it's probably a good idea to put your name and email or phone number in the header or footer of every page, just in case anything goes missing.
Regarding email v postal submissions – do as requested in the guidelines. Sometimes you'll hear of people submitting in a different way, or to a different name/address than stated in the guidelines. That's because some editors request this from people who've already been published by them. Until requested to do otherwise, follow the guidelines!
If emailing, your covering letter will be the email body and your story an attachment (unless any guidelines state otherwise). You ma ybe requested to put certain information in the subject line – if so, do as asked. If not, I suggest including the word 'submission' and your story title.
Most importantly – follow the magazine's guidelines and any requests made by editors. They all have slightly different processes and requirements. I mention these on this blog when I hear about them, so before submitting you may wish to click on the magazine's title in the 'magazine guidelines - quick links' (in the right hand column) and read the latest posts.
Is this how you do your covering letters? Anything to add, or any questions?