The exact definition of a cover letter is: “a letter sent with, and explaining the contents of, another document or a parcel of goods.” They are typically created when applying for a job. An author’s cover letter is no different and must be submitted at the same time as the proposal of a manuscript.
If you have never written one before, not to worry. We have written step-by-step instructions to aid you in the process.
As an author, it is common to want to be creative, but this is one area where that is greatly unnecessary. A cover letter should be professional. Stick to the standard cover letter format to ensure you appear as adept as possible. Whether you are printing and sending a physical cover letter or sending it via email, does not matter. Be sure to keep it clean, precise, and to the point. Examples of the standard cover letter format can be found anywhere with ease.
Keep It Short
As with application cover letters, they should not exceed one page. In the very first paragraph, clearly explain what you are sending. This can be as straightforward as: “Kindly find enclosed a short story, ‘Choose Me, please!’ which describes a game show contestant.”
Address the Editor
Many cover letters begin with a vague addressing line, such as “To whom it may concern.” This should not be the case with yours. Do an extra few minutes of research to find the editor’s given name. Even if you address the incorrect person, your cover letter will stand out more than the generic one sent by another author in competition for your manuscript’s attention.
Simplicity is Key
You are not required to write twenty pages for your cover letter, let alone more than just one. Keep it simple. Write the barest of information that is still enlightening enough to keep the editor’s attention. The first paragraph will be skimmed quickly, so write it well, but keep it short.
If you have submitted your manuscript to multiple publications, write that down. Do not withhold such vital information. If your submission is chosen by another publication before the editor is able to call you, they have wasted their precious time. Be sure that they know there is a risk of that when considering your work.
The “Contributors’ Notes” Section
If you are unsure what the “Contributors’ Notes” section is, it pertains to the back, or the end, of the journal where a brief summary of the writer is placed. You may include whatever information you want here, such as where you’ve studied, what you do now and if you have ever published your original work before.
Your Closing Statement
Simply thank the editor for their time, type “Regards,” or something similar, insert four spaces and then type your name. Nothing else is needed.
You Want a Response
If you are physically sending your cover letter, remember to include a second envelope inside the letter for them to mail their reply. Be sure to include the stamp on this second envelope, so their postage will be free, as is common courtesy.
Keep Track of Your Submissions
If you are submitting your manuscript to multiple publications, you will want to keep track of each one. That way, when your submission is accepted by one of them, you can send the other publications a polite withdrawal.
Do Your Research
Google is your best friend and ally. Research examples of other cover letters authors have submitted. Or cover letters businesses have praised and caused the senders to be accepted nearly immediately to the position they were applying for. Sometimes visualization is the best preparation.
Read the submission guidelines keenly. Many publications normally state in their guidelines the precise details that must be included in a cover letter. With some minor variations, a general rule of thumb is to include:
- The Editor’s name (if you are able to locate it)
- Word count
- A summary of your piece
- State if you have published previously
- Your name
- Whether your piece is a simultaneous submission, i.e., if you will be sending the same piece to several literary journals or magazines at the same time.
Sample Author Cover Letter
COVER LETTER FOR SUBMISSION OF MANUSCRIPT
Subject: SUBMISSION OF A REVIEW ARTICLE
Enclosed herein is a review article entitled “AIDS IS A KILLER DISEASE.” For evaluation and possible publication in your esteemed journal. With the submission of this script, I would like to categorically state that the above-mentioned manuscript is my original work and has not been published anywhere else, accepted for this publication anywhere else or under editorial review for publication anywhere else: and that all the co-authors listed below have agreed to have the manuscript submitted for publication.
Brian King (Corresponding author),
Department of Health Sciences, College of Pharmacy, Kansas
Directorate of Medical Education and Pharmaceuticals, Kansas