Things Not To Put In Your Cover Letter

I’m pretty good-natured, so none of the following have stopped me from reading your stories, but consider what an editor might think on reading the following statements in the email that accompanies your submission:

“I wrote this in 20 minutes after finding out about your zine.” While I appreciate the fact that you want to show your instant devotion, I’d rather find out that you had taken your time crafting a story instead of slapping one together.

“I wrote this while thinking about my best friend, Virginia.” While this bit of sentiment will be great in the interview after you sell the story, beforehand it just sets me up to think that it’s a sentimental diary entry more than a story. While I might be pleasantly surprised, and while FLash Fiction Online staff readers don’t see the cover letters, why take the chance of setting yourself up?

“I’ve had this one sitting around for a while. I hope you like it.” While it’s possible that you were just waiting for a professional flash-dedicated zine to sell to, or that you have other reasons for not submitting this story to anyone else, it seems likely that a story that you’ve had “sitting around for a while” hasn’t sold for a good reason. Unless you’re Orson Scott Card, I’m going to be a little skeptical. (Scott, do you have a flash story that’s been sitting around for a while?)

There are probably more, and I’ll add them as they come along. As it turns out, I didn’t buy any of the stories that accompanied these cover letters. That’s not because the cover letters were bad, though, so if you see yourself here don’t get upset. I’m commenting here to be helpful, not to be catty.

Good writing!
Jake

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