1. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.

    Cover Letter Would a short story need a logline and synopsis?

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by GingerCoffee, Jun 8, 2016.

    And how brief might they be? I'm entering my short story in a magazine for publication thanks to a success story by a fellow forumite.

    This is my don't-know-what-the-hell-I'm-doing rough draft of the cover letter. As you can see it is incomplete:


    Stone Games is a cross between Lovecraftian and sci-fi genres. It was inspired by real crabs on a real beach in Fiji. We threw little pebbles out across the sand and little crabs, the kind with one large claw, would all dart toward the rock, suddenly stopping when the first one reached it.

    I began writing and the story took on a life of its own.

    Full disclosure: I entered the story in the writingforums.org short story contest and it won. The forum is closed to non-members and it won’t show up on a search, so it is not considered published and they have no rights to it.
    Wasn't sure where to go with a bio here.
    I have a novel, YA Sci-fi that is nearing completion. ​

    I could use any help anyone has to offer. Thanks.
     
    zoupskim likes this.
  2. X Equestris
    Offline

    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2015
    Messages:
    515
    Likes Received:
    304
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    You'll want to look at the publication's submission guidelines, of course, but I've never stumbled on a magazine or anthology that wanted them. In fact, most short story publishers I've seen outright discourage synopses. They'd rather find out what the story is as they go.
     
    GingerCoffee likes this.
  3. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,591
    Likes Received:
    5,075
    I'd leave out the "full disclosure" section, myself. If they offer you publication, you could mention it, but even then I'm not sure I would. I mean, if you're saying it's not published, then why bother talking about it? Honestly, "so it is not considered published" comes across like you're lecturing them on what they should consider that word to mean - the passive construction seems a bit defensive, maybe? And I don't think the writingforums.org writing contests have enough prestige to warrant inclusion as a selling point.

    I'm not sure about the lack of synopsis, or about the inclusion of the crab story. My instinct is to leave the crabs out unless you go further with them, hinting about a theme of the story or what you did with the starting inspiration. But it will depend on the requirements of the individual magazine, really.

    And I don't think taglines are necessary anywhere but screen writing.
     
    GingerCoffee likes this.
  4. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    I have indeed looked at the submission guidelines, formatted the story and am now trying to learn about the cover letter. The submissions guide says one should include a logline.

    After reading a bit more and taking your advice @BayView, I'm this far along:


    Stone Games is a cross between Lovecraftian and sci-fi genres. It was inspired by real crabs on a real beach and the experience of being trapped by the incoming tide. As I began writing, the story took on a life of its own.


    I’m a newer writer, I have a novel, YA Sci-fi that is nearing completion.
    It's still in the utterly klutzy stage, but improved.

    These are the three things some blog said to include in a short story cover letter:

    · The introductory paragraph states the story’s title, then hooks the editor with a brief description of the story.

    · The biographical paragraph explains, in one or two sentences, a bit about yourself that is pertinent to the story, such as previous publishing credits, why you’re sending it to this particular publication or how a personal experience influenced your story.

    · The concluding paragraph politely closes the letter.
     
  5. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,504
    Likes Received:
    1,337
    Hi @GingerCoffee ,

    I can't help with the OP, but I do remember reading Stone Games...I loved it.

    Good luck with getting it out to a larger audience!
     
    GingerCoffee likes this.
  6. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,591
    Likes Received:
    5,075
    Follow the submission guidelines. If they want a logline, don't ask us if a logline is necessary - it apparently is!

    In terms of following the three things some blog said - I don't think you are, really. I haven't read your story and I have absolutely no idea what it's about, based on your letter here, so I wouldn't say you've met the "brief description of the story" criteria. Unless your story is literally about fighting crabs, in which case maybe that needs to be clarified? I was thinking of the crabs as the thematic inspiration, but maybe they were a more concrete inspiration? I'd need clarification on this if I were the editor.

    And then the biographical section is always tough when you don't have publication credits - I'd definitely get rid of the comma splices, but other than that? I'm not sure. If your story isn't actually about crabs, I'd probably put the beach story in this paragraph. Actually, if you're following the WD three things, I'd put the beach story in this paragraph anyway. In the first paragraph, tell what your story's about (a war fought between two bands of crabs and the rebel crustacean who almost ended generations of murderous strife before being killed, or whatever) and then in the second paragraph tell how you were inspired to write the story. That's if you want to work based on the blog's suggested structure. Alternatively, you could explain why you think the story is a good fit for the magazine.

    For the closing paragraph? If you haven't already done the "good fit for the magazine" thing, maybe you could do that in your closing?
     
    GingerCoffee likes this.
  7. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    The problem was they conflated novel and short story guidelines. But that's OK, you might be right.

    Good ideas.
     
  8. TWErvin2
    Offline

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,528
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    I've not submitted a short story in several years, but with each one, in the description, I included the word count:

    Picking a most recent one: "I am submitting for your consideration “Vegetable Matters”, an 8,700 word science fiction story. “Vegetable Matters” first appeared in MindFlights in January of 2008 and it was a finalist for the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s 2009 Derringer Award.

    I did sometimes include a 1-2 line description of the story's contents or theme.
     
    Ex Leper and GingerCoffee like this.
  9. izzybot
    Offline

    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Messages:
    848
    Likes Received:
    932
    Location:
    SC, USA
    My cover letter template includes genre and title like you've got, but you also want to include wordcount. I mostly wing synopses these days because most magazines don't want them, but when I did them every time my template was like this:

    The final line would end up reading "It's a Lovecraftian sci-fi short, about [wc rounded to the nearest 100] words long, inspired by real crabs on a real beach and the experience of being trapped by the incoming tide."

    With short story cover letters you basically want to fit the relevant information in as briefly as possible, and let the story speaks for itself.

    If they don't say they want a bio you don't have to include one, but if they do it's so they have a blurb to put with your short should they except it - it's not to sell them on your short. Unless you've written something personal. To quote Lightspeed's guidelines, "if you send us a hard sf story about black hole clusters and your doctoral dissertation was on black hole clusters, mention that". Otherwise, I just write something like "Izzy Todd is a [day job] who lives in [place] with too many pets. You can usually find them wasting time on Star Trek or Skyrim." Just something silly / cute / relatable, include your twitter or blog if you have something like that, any upcoming publications. That part's not too important.
     
    GingerCoffee likes this.
  10. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Thanks everyone. I feel so much better informed now about what to say.

    [Watch this space for updates]
     
  11. Ex Leper
    Offline

    Ex Leper Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    49
    GingerCoffee likes this.
  12. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Here's the final version (still subject to change)


    Dear Mr. Skelhorn,

    I am submitting for your consideration, “Stone Games”, a 2500 word, Lovecraftian sci-fi short that is a perfect match for publication in Sanitarium Magazine. It’s a previously unpublished manuscript, inspired by a mix of nightmares and real events. It won first place in a short story contest on Writingforums.com.

    Attached is my story in a .docx file as the submission guidelines suggested.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Sincerely,


    Comments much appreciated.
     
  13. izzybot
    Offline

    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Messages:
    848
    Likes Received:
    932
    Location:
    SC, USA
    I've always found the "my story is a perfect fit for you" bit sort of presumptuous, personally. That's kind of up to their discretion.
     
    GingerCoffee likes this.
  14. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    I thought that about a couple of other phrases I tried and tossed. I don't want to sound syrupy. I'll take it out.:agreed:
     
  15. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    OK, my first submission for publication, sent!

    It was good practice anyway.
     
    TWErvin2, Tenderiser and izzybot like this.
  16. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    If it gets any bites I might enter my Halloween poem as well, maybe in September.
     

Share This Page