Sunday, March 30, 2008

Poetry Cover Letter Protocol

Address your envelope and cover letter to the poetry editor, using the correct name (forget Writers' Market, it's always out of date; check the mag's website instead) and, please, the correct gender indicator.

Start the letter by asking the editor to consider the enclosed poems for publication. If you happen to be sending the poems for a future "special" or "themed" issue of their magazine, say so.

Next paragraph: Write, "My work has appeared in. . . " and list your most recent poetry publications, a maximum of five of them. List any prizes won. If you have never published or won prizes, don't say so; just skip this paragraph.

Mention your schooling and profession only if it's related to literature. If not, skip this paragraph. Do not volunteer information such as "I am a stay-at-home mother of twin girls."

If you are "simultaneously submitting" the enclosed poems to other journals, put that in the letter -- but never say which journals they are. If not, skip this paragraph.

Be sure to say whether you want your manuscript returned or "recycled".

Thank the editor for his or her time.

Your SASE should have the magazine's return address in the upper left corner, and should be self-sealing.

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