Many of the submissions that have been sent to us have not come with a cover letter, and those that do indicate to me that the authors might be a little unsure what to do about email submissions and cover letters in general. Firstly, it’s not required that you send a cover letter, but we do appreciate it. Cover letters are a part of the professional publishing world and a lot of publishers expect them. They are also a great way of showing professionalism and highlighting any publications you might have. We don’t hold it against you if you don’t give us a cover letter, but for those that are curious what a good cover letter looks like, I’ll post an example. Treat this as how a cover letter should look like when sent to SBS Magazine and take note that anything in ( )s are personal commentary, which might contain useful information for you:
123 Street St.
Typicaltown, Maryland (or Typicaltown, Quebec, Canada) 12345
Dear Shaun and Lindsey,
Attached as a .rtf file is my 1500-word short story entitled “John Doe Finds a Map” for consideration in Survival By Storytelling Magazine.
I have previously been published in Monkey Foot Magazine, Happy Camp Journal, and Jane Doe’s Digest. I have also received the Jane Doe Award for Best Unoriginal Story. (If you have no previous publications or awards, then this section is not needed. Only list publications or awards that are of interest. If you won “Best Egg Tosser” at the County Fair, it’s really rather pointless. We might find it humorous, but it doesn’t tell us anything about your writing. If you won “Most Likely to Start the Apocalypse,” then you should probably tell us just because that’s ridiculous).
I look forward to your reply.
Do no leave a P.S. The only information that’s important to us is what’s in the body of the cover letter, which would, of course, be in the body of your email. Cover letters don’t influence our judgment on a manuscript. If your story sucks, then it sucks. It doesn’t matter if your cover letter was brilliant.
You don’t have to put your pen name in your cover letter. Generally your pen name should go on the byline of your manuscript. The byline is that line that immediately follows your story title on the manuscript. You know, where it says By Your Name. That’s traditionally where you put pen names.