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