Over on Facebook, where I posted a link to last week’s article, “Ignore the Market Guidelines at Your Peril – How (Not) to Build a Career” – a writer asked in response:
So. What SHOULD I put in my cover letter? Don’t really know. I don’t think I’ve ever included a cover letter with a short story submission, because, well, I don’t know.
That’s an excellent question. Here are the answers I’ve gathered from reading dozens of market guidelines, listening to editors talk at cons, and gauging my response to cover letters I’ve received.
1. What I heard over and over again at the recent Nebula weekend is that any writer who mentions having been nominated for or won any writing awards, ever, immediately bypasses the slush pile. It doesn’t matter how long ago it was, or, in most cases, what award it was. (With the exception of awards made up by a small writers workshop who then hands them out to each other so they can say they’re all award-winners.) The nomination or win for a significant writing award will generally get your manuscript bumped to the top of the To Be Read pile.