Submitting stories to magazines – should I send a cover letter?

Here is another question from my Dear Della page that I get asked regularly.

Q Whenever I submit a short story to a magazine, I give basic details and contact information on the cover sheet. Is it always necessary to include an introductory letter with brief synopsis as well? Apart from it being time consuming for a reader or editor, I worry more about the letter than the story!

A I’ve had several writers in touch about this dilemma and the short answer is no, it’s not always necessary to include an introductory letter. The cover sheet is enough for most fiction editors. It is not usually necessary to include a synopsis either and some magazines actually advise against doing this. However, do check the guidelines. If they ask you to submit a covering letter, then do so. It can be very simple. Here is one I have used.

Dear Fiction Editor (insert name – if you don’t know it, find out)

Please find enclosed my short story, THE RED SHOE (1000 words) that I hope might be suitable for publication in… (insert name of magazine).

I enclose a stamped addressed envelope for your reply, and look forward to hearing what you think.

Many thanks for your time.

Yours sincerely

Also please do make sure your SAE has sufficient postage to return the story to you. Or you will never know its fate.


I teach weekly writing classes at Kinson Community Centre, Pelhams Park, Kinson, Bournemouth. Thursday evenings, Friday mornings. Term dates in side panel to right of this page.

My next Saturday course on How to Write and Sell Short Stories is in Kinson on Saturday 25 April 2015.  £45.00 for the day. Please do check the course page of this website for further details and email me via website to book. I’m also doing a weekend course (Write a Short Story in a weekend) at the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester) 10th to 12th April. £240. I am also doing the Twist Ending at Woman’s Weekly on 13th April £75.00. See side panel to the right for more details. The latter two courses must be booked via Relax and Write and Woman’s Weekly websites respectively.

Happy writing

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6 Responses to Submitting stories to magazines – should I send a cover letter?

  1. Wendy Clarke says:

    I include a covering letter, along the lines of the one you’ve written above – probably don’t need to though.

  2. Sue Blackburn says:

    Me too!! 🙂 xx

  3. Bernadette says:

    I used to, but now usually don’t, unless I have something extra to say, for example if the story has been previously published abroad.

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