The Mailing Game

Just sent off 11 submissions. With 11 different cover letters. Can we say tedious?

I realize it’s important to show the mags that you love and respect them…but I’m worried that after all that work I spaced out and put “I love Gulf Coast!” in the American Short Story envelope. And did I actually stamp all of my self addressed stamped envelopes?

I’m fairly organized as far as submissions go–with Excel spreadsheets and copious notes as I go (to make sure that I have a reasonable shot at any one magazine). Too nerdy? Well, it goes back to that whole presentation thing.

I want to be considered professional, so I have to behave professionally. But aren’t professionals allowed a little leeway if they lose focus for a second? Have you guys ever had a situation where you forgot something important–for a presentation, or a class, or a submission?

Submissions; Publishing; Writing Thoughts

jenny maloney View All →

Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.

5 Comments Leave a comment

  1. I didn’t put an SASE in my submission before last. There was ambiguity in the submission guidelines, and I was conducting an experiment. And I know that no one will believe me when I say that, but it’s the truth.What constitutes a cover letter? It was an optional in these same submission guidelines.

  2. To save yourself some ambiguous rejections in the future…I recommend putting a SASE in every submission unless it’s a email. That way you at least know for certain that they’ll respond (even if it’s just to say no). Cover letters are letters of introduction: “Here’s who I am, here’s what I’ve done, here’s what I’m sending you, here’s why I think you guys are cool and should publish me” (the last one is more optional, they’ll make that decision and anything you can conjure up as to why they should publish you will inevitably be wrong…and ‘you’ refers to the general writing populace). It’s just a polite way of saying hello. Some places take the thought ‘if you don’t spend any time with us, why should we spend any time with you?’ kind of approach. And it lets them know if something is missing…like you forgot to put your story in….

  3. I’ve misspelled names and made spelling mistakes in query letters…And some of those people still accepted stories or requested pages (this is for agents). I spell check everything and do my best. But we’re only human, right?

  4. Right after I was laid off from WorldCom, I applied for a bunch of freelance editor positions. Sent off dozens of letters with samples of my work.I believe the typo in the first paragraph to every-single-one was “I lead the effort…” Yep, let’s hire that woman as editor.When I found it, I was not surprised that I didn’t get a single reply.

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