We are on our third and fourth anthology in a row here at Durham Editing and E-books. Over the last five months, we have had many pieces submitted to us for review. One of the things we have really noticed is that there seems to be a huge range as to what information people include when they submit their works. In an effort to find the new standard as to what needs to be included in a submission letter, we have done a good bit of looking and put together a checklist for writers submitting to any publication, no matter how little or big. So, if you can check off these items for your letter, you should be in great shape. Here are the things to include when you submit to publications:
1. Your address- both in the real world and on the web. Your personal information should appear just as it would appear in a business letter. Believe it or not, this applies to email submissions and snail mail submissions. So, in the top corner of either type of letter, type your physical address and email address.
2. The date. Yes, time stamps are nice, but they do not always work and are not always right. Enter the date. This also lets the person reading the submission know whether or not you really did submit on time and something may have happened to delay the entry.
3. The address of the person to whom you are submitting the entry. It is best to include the physical address and web address (specifically email address is best) if possible, but you should at least include the type of address you are using to submit the work.
4. A formal greeting. This would be the Dear Bob: or Dear Florida Home Journal: you learned in school. If you do not know who you are submitting a written work to, you can always use the standard Dear Editor.
5. The title of the piece being submitted. Announce the title or, preferably, the title and author. Be sure to include if this is an original piece or a piece written by more than one person. If it has been written by more than one person, you will need to explain how you are able to submit the piece and whether all contributors need to be acknowledged.
6. Why this piece should be considered, and why it will fit in the publication. Explain why you thing the piece will work in the publication to which you are submitting. Most publications have a point, but, unfortunately, not all pieces are obvious as to why they fit into a publication. Explain why it fits.
7. Background information. Personalize the piece and let the reader know that you are a writer with talent. You can mention your experience, your education, awards you may hold, or any other information that applies to the publication you are submitting to for that specific piece. Here is the place that the form letter falls apart. This part of the letter should be different for each place you submit to and for each piece. Why your article on Killer Whales is a quality piece written by someone who knows about these creatures has nothing to do with you winning the Best Poet contest three years running. This is the place that separates the pros from the not-so-pros. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know this. Not many people do. Now, however, you have the upper hand.
8. Any information the instructions ask be submitted. Here is another place where many people also go astray. If the publication asked for you to include the name of your third grade teacher and how she helped you learn to write cursive, don’t forget to include it. This is the place where most pieces get tossed before being read. Don’t wind up in the trash can. Follow all the instructions.
9. Contact information. Always revisit the contact information at the end of the letter body. Tell the reader again how to reach you, but this time also include the when to reach you. Some like to say “at your earliest convenience” or “I am available any time.” Be careful with that last one because even superheroes have to rest.
10. A formal closing. Sincerely or Thank You work great here. Use the manners that favorite third grade teacher taught you, too. And always sign your full name. You aren’t on a first name basis with a person you addressed earlier as Dear Editor. Keep it formal and you will keep flying.
11. Enclosed. Don’t forget the Enclosed line. This should appear below the signature and should read- Enclosed: — Be sure to add what is actually enclosed where the dashes are.
12. Don’t forget the grammar and spellcheck. Here is another place where entry after entry winds up in the trash. Don’t let using there for their send your awesome manuscript in the garbage. It would be such a waste.
Hopefully this will be a useful list. Please feel free to print it off and share it with the world. While we aren’t going to dump you just for a typo, there are some places that will. So use it whenever you can and you will get in the good habit of always doing it right. Happy writing! And even happier submitting!