You've written that short story or novel. Now what?
The subject of cover letters can be confusing. Books have been written on the subject, such as: How to Write Attention Grabbing Query and Cover Letters, or this one with the catchy title: Science Fiction Writer's Workshop-I by Barry B. Longyear. Or you can find several references in this list of writing books at BOOKS ON WRITING SPECULATIVE FICTION.
Or you can use the Web. Some of the more interesting links are:
- Cover Letters When, Why, and How to Use Them
- DarkEcho Writers Workshop
- FictionAddiction.NET - The Cover Letter Made Easy
- Science Fiction Writer Robert J. Sawyer On Writing — Cover Letters
- The Fiction Forum Article The Cover Letter Your Ticket In or The Kiss of Death by Dawn Seewer
- WritersDigest.com Q&A Archives
- Writing a cover letter for short story submission
- Writing Speculative Fiction, by Mary Soon Lee
Not all agree on what is the best way of submitting a manuscript. Check the following link where one author disagrees quite a bit with another's suggestions.
But the web is constantly changing. So if the links above are bad, let us know and try Googling the string: "science fiction" writing "cover letters" -resume. That will get you about 2000 hits. (The "-resume" is to remove cover letters for resumes.)
There is only one rule: Give the editor what he/she wants. Unless you're on speaking terms with the editor in question this can be difficult.
Cover Letters for Short Stories
Check the submission guidelines of the publisher. The guidelines vary from those of Analog and Fantasy and Science Fiction which do not mention cover letters, to Asimov's Science Fiction which says, "Enclose a cover letter if you like," to Paizo.com -- Amazing Stories which says, "Please mail us your finished ms with a cover letter and a list of published credits."
Cover Letters for Book Submissions
Query letters are used for non fiction works. In them the author or agent asks the publisher if they are interested in the work of the author. Here is a link if you are interested.
Submitted by Dave K., 2004