Cover Letters

It’s been a learning experience at Wordsworthing since we started taking submissions.  We wanted to let you, the rabble horde, know how you’re doing.  Firstly, thanks to all of you who have opted to unwrap the muslin from your precious literary endeavors and fling them to us wolves at Wordsworthing.  Paraphrasing Sherlock Holmes, we cannot make bricks without clay.  We appreciate your clay.

There are numerous reasons for our rejections; today we’d like to pass out some free advice on one of them:  The Cover Letter.

Sweet baby Jesus’ dick do you guys vary. We, personally, struggle with what is supposed to go into a cover letter.  Sure, there are enough online tutorials to choke oneself with.  But in the end, we only see our own and there’s never any feedback about that part of the submission.  Well, we are all full of learning now, with examples taken directly from our inbox.  And we’re going to spray that learning all over you, rope after rope of it.

1.         Don’t send us a link to a video as your letter (especially if it’s the only thing in your letter). 

Example:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4WiyxXpyZc. 

2.         Don’t tell us what the story is about.  Let the story do that for you.  If the story can’t do in 10 pages what you are doing in a few sentences in the cover letter, don’t send it in. 

Example:  XXXXX XXXXXX is about a kid's story to a high school centered for students with substance abuse issues and his eventual downfall as he relapses on hand sanitizer while he's there.  [We are aware there are more problems with this example than just summarizing the story]

3.         Don’t tell us that your story needs to be read.  It doesn’t.  We’re all worthless piles of animated meat.  We’ll let you know if it’s important enough to be read and transcend previously mentioned worthlessness of meathood.  Like our work, it likely isn’t and won’t. 

Examples: 

Here is a story that people should read.

Just read the work...the guy in the 7/11 loved it!

My name is XXXXX XXXXXXX and I am submitting my piece, XXXXXXXXXX. Read it.

YOU should be honored that I'm sending it in, because trust me: you want this.

I write every day. I live for this, and if you guys don't like my stuff- then fcuk [sic] you! I write with the abandon you're looking for. Believe me.  [We also never trust anyone that says “believe me”]

4.         Don’t be confusing or cryptic or what you think is clever.  Like a visit to the proctologist, you want your letter to be smooth and painless. 

Example:  Am I worth it? And do I still feel the same way?

5.         Don’t try to impress us with your honesty.  We don’t have a magazine for you to read (yet), but listen to the podcast to get a feel for how this works with us.  We take this seriously, you should too. 

Example: I'm not going to kiss your ass and talk about how many times I've read things from your publication (statements that we would both know are obviously bullshit.)  Now I may not do my research as well as I should, but from what I have read you seem to be very similar me. Even if you don't like my work, I do really want you to read it.  [Again, your story doesn’t need to be read]

6.         Don’t apply for a job.  We aren’t hiring unless you are fucking badass and work for free.  Even then, we aren’t hiring.  Unless you are super hot. 

Example:  I am caring, talented, authoritative, and resourceful. I care about my customers, and try my utmost to deliver quality work, on time.

7.         Don’t send us another submission if we rejected you recently and definitely don’t mention it in your cover letter.  The reason is that, although you tried, you failed.  We get that this is all subjective and we pick what we think is good, so accept that your shit just isn’t good here; don’t shotgun us to prove us wrong.  This has a negative effect.

Example:  Two days ago I submitted a short story about a monastery that was declined. Perhaps you will like this story better.

8.         Don’t forget basic fucking shit like grammar and punctuation, people.  The world doesn’t owe you a goddamn thing.  Stop acting so entitled that your shit doesn’t stink.  MOTHERFUCKER, IS THIS UPSETTING TO US. 

Examples: 

if I did not write, I'd be dead

why? because i write in lapslock what is sometimes an acid trip and others a tear in spacetime

I'm not pretty enought to be an actor

A word enthusiast who loves to read

and write.  [That inadvertent carriage return in this fragment was from the submitter, not Wordsworthing]

You guys get the picture.  Without question, the letters that do work for us are creative, concise, grateful, and address our vision of Wordsworthing.  I’m not providing examples because we don’t want any copycats.  Listen to the show.  Get our attention but in a respectful and unique way.  This should be easy.  We are three guys that drink a bunch and love literature.  Be genuine.  Be on point.  And be you.

Now get out there, do some wordslinging, and bring us something we can print. 

By Nicholas Dighiera

The Beginning

Digitally, there we were. It was me comfortably paternal in Palmer, Nick renovating alone in Seattle, and Dan with a leaky anused pup in SoCal. We were drinking (natch) and discussing, as you do, the nature of publishing RE: the abject slavery in which the current industry imprisons the writer. Then came trouble.

We three have a mutual friend, writer, published, who had been in contact with Nick about the e-book platform and he was lamenting the fact that, by the time the profit gravy train hit the author’s bank account, she was merely a dribble. I asked for numbers but Nick was unable to provide them other than to say that said train tends asymptotically to zero. Then there was a voice report about barium shits, colonoscopies, and prostate exams. Dan dropped in to say he would be drinking dinner. A farty shower ensued. I submitted an article wherein the pub industry whined about third party sellers on the internet taking their market share and robbing authors of their deserved spoils. We debunked that fallacious argument and I suggested we dig into the meat of the matter in the next podcast. A conversation about commerce appeared, then we discussed the inevitability of the trashiness of the human race precluding the mass distribution of capital “A” art and the inherent greed of the publishing industry. Discussions flourished about profit margins and distributors and writers becoming business people and the possibilities of going straight to the reader market with honed pieces of work. 50 Shades of Grey was involved, as was Nabokov. An adverb was employed. The griminess of sex arrived. Dan drank furiously. Nick suggested leveraging his knowledge of the industry in order to create a new model of publication and position ourselves as gatekeepers of literature. Dan then suggested a networking scheme to enlist the aid of our writer friends. We decided that time trumped profits and we should do something about the nature of the writing business. Joe Rogan and Adam Corolla became references. Commercials got into the mix. Facebook and Instagram. People liking to read books. A grown child’s opinion on radio versus music videos espoused. A sweet dumper showed up. Dan’s pup liked hockey and beer. My recent cattery was a point of interest. Nick belched. I value wined. In the end, we settled on a vid chat for the next evening and a fuck everything.

It was grand.

The following morning I suggested that, in the run up to begin our own publishing company, we begin publishing work here at Wordsworthing. Ideas bandied. A strategy came into view. We discussed chapbook style publishing, one piece from each genre, to be available digitally and in a limited physical presence to be given away perhaps, along with other unscalable marketing schemes (children’s artwork, small cash sums, hand written pieces ripped from notebooks etc. etc.). Nick headed home to create a submissions page as I gathered supplies to combat the hornet menace currently encroaching on my house. My special lady was pressed into services as poetry editor. The vid chat came. We discussed finances, Submittable, searchability, webpages, incorporation, logistics, submission schedules, distro routes, publication times, the inviolability of adhering to a higher plane of Art, family things, technology, trash race, drinking, all arrowed through with the horrible enthusiasm that comes with a new endeavor that in no wise is destined to do anything except fill the span of consciousness allotted to our pitiful frames. We were, of course, manic with excitement.

We were speaking at length, as novices do, about things with which we had little experience. Naturally, we were enthralled. We didn’t know all the ways we were wrong, are going to be wrong, and will likely fail but that didn’t matter, none of it mattered. The only things present were the start of something new and saying yes to a world drowning in no.

By Ben Toche