1. Firepoet
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    Firepoet New Member

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    Question about writing a cover letter

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Firepoet, Jul 12, 2008.

    Hello,
    Now normally if you are mailing your manuscript to Story Magazine and the Editor is Bob Conolly, you'd write your cover letter "Dear Mr.Connolly..."
    But what if you know he isn't the first one to read it?

    Specifically I am submitting a story to Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine. The mailing address is to Editor Gordon Van Gelder, however, I know that all manuscripts are first read by the assistant editor John Joseph Adams. So should I address the cover letter to the first person I know who will read the manuscript, even if the magazine doesn't make that information public? The magazine doesn't have a cover letter requirement, so should I just make it easy and skip the cover letter?
     
  2. Daisy
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    Daisy New Member

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    I assume you're not allowed to simply go ahead and send it directly to Mr. Adams?

    I would think it strange to open an envelope addressed to me and find the cover letter inside addressed to someone else. Also, the editor might think you were a bit presumptuous to automatically assume he was going to assign it to the assistant editor, even if you know that is what always happens.

    I open all the mail that is addressed to my boss and 90 percent of the time I know which ones he will assign to me and everyone else knows that he won't even look at certain things until I'm done with it, but I would be embarrassed if I opened mail addressed to my superior and found it addressed to me on the cover letter.

    My opinion, anyway.
     
  3. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    Though I may just add to the confusion, some people use the phrase: "To whom it may concern" instead of any name.
     
  4. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Addressing "To Whom it may concern" would not be a good idea in this instance, and in most (if not all) instances. A little research in trying to determine the specific editor to mail to by exploring a magazine's/ezine's website is always a good idea. Even a phone call if a website isn't available works. To do otherwise greatly risks giving the first reader the impression that you, the author, are just shotgunning this story out to markets using a generic cover letter without much thought or reason. Not a way to make a good first impression.

    In this case, I believe that The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction tells writers who to address the submissions to, even if it does not go to that editor. If you've developed a relationship with the assistant editor--such as he posted a personal note in a previous rejection--addressing to him seems reasonable, otherwise I'd stick with what the magazine requests.

    The cover letter is up to you. What do you have to say? It can be as simple as providing contact information and informing the editors the title, genre and length of the submission, and thanking them for taking the time to consider it.

    Good luck.

    Terry
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    first, foremost, and always follow the magazine's guidelines!...

    it doesn't matter what you think you 'know' about who does the actual first reading... unless you really know that person and they have told you it's ok for you to address that particular ms to them personally, you must send it to the person the submission guidelines specify and address the letter to that person, as well... to do anything else could scotch your chances, or at least diminish them to some extent...

    as to content, again, check guidelines... if nothing there on that, see terry's good advice...
     
  6. Firepoet
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    Firepoet New Member

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    I'm going to add a second question since it still applies to the topic title:
    Letterhead. Does it make the cover letter look more professional or amateurish? I don't mean with graphics and colors, but like a plain business style letterhead.
     
  7. ParanormalWriter
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    ParanormalWriter Contributing Member

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    Address your cover letter specifically to Gordan Van Gelder. His assistant is used to opening his boss's mail and expects it to open with a greeting to Mr. Van Gelder. there's nothing incorrect in that, and to do things differently could cause confusion.

    And on your question about letterhead, nothing fancy is necessary. Just make sure you always include all your contact information and you'll do fine. I wouldn't mess with anything artsy, it'll just mark you as an amateur in the editor's mind.

    Good luck with your submission. That magazine is a tough one to crack, but I hope all goes well. Feel free to PM me with any questions. :)
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i always tell my mentees to design a simple but attractive, professional-looking letterhead to contain their contact info, as it makes a much better impression and takes you out of the amateur category at first glance... of course, your writing in the letter itself might put you right back there, if you're not careful!... ;-)
     

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