How to Write a Cover Letter
Address a Specific Person: For the salutation, avoid "To Whom It May Concern." These days, most editors are listed in the masthead on the journal's site. Even if you are not positive you have the right person, you will look more professional for having tried, and the letter will be forwarded to the correct editor.
Keep It Short: Letters should not exceed one page. Explain what you are sending. This can be as straightforward as: "Enclosed please find a short story, 'X' which describes a game show contestant with Jumping Frenchmen of Maine disease." If you have a genuine reason for submitting to this journal, share it.
Additional Information to include: If the journal prefers to be informed ahead of time about simultaneous submissions, address that issue briefly by saying, "I have submitted these to a few other publications and will let you know immediately if any are accepted elsewhere."
Short Bio: Briefly introduce yourself to the editor. If you studied writing or have published before, state it here. If you haven't, that's fine. You just want to provide context for what they are about to read. Many editors use this bio for the "Contributors' Notes" at the end of the journal, so think of what you'd like listed at the back. You can look at some journals to see what other writers have to say about themselves.
Keep Your Letters Electronically: Keep your first letter as a template, making adjustments for each journal. If you plan to submit to a journal more than once, save that letter separately under the journal's name. This saves you time if the story or poem gets accepted somewhere else and you have to write to withdraw your submission.
Read Other Examples: Everyone has a slightly different take on the art of cover-letter writing. You can read a variety of them online by simply searching for author cover letters.
Dear X Review,
Please consider my poems “x” “y,” and “z.” I am an unpublished poet searching for a home for my work. I greatly appreciate the time and attention that my work receives. Thank you for your consideration.
Nadia Mota is a Chicana writer from southeast Michigan. She is an MFA candidate at the Helen Zell Writers' Program and the recipient of a Roy W. Cowden Memorial Fellowship and an Academy of American Poets Prize.