Over the past year between projects, I've been working on a short story. I like working on short things between drafts of novels. After a year of work and a dozen revisions, I decided I would send it to a fantasy and science fiction magazine I admire that publishes short stories. I used to write a lot of short stories and spent four years writing cover letters and sending them to magazines--all rejected. I hadn't written a cover letter for a submission since before my first published book, so it felt astounding now to be able to mention my honors and publications. How things had changed! Here's my cover letter, names redacted.
Dear Mr. ---,
Please accept my submission, ----, a 3400-word science fiction story.
I’m a NYT best selling author of twelve novels published by Bloomsbury, including The Goose Girl, Princess Academy, and Book of a Thousand Days. My professional honors include an Eisner nomination, two Mythopoeic Award finalists, a Josette Frank Award, a Newbery Honor, two Cybils, and several state awards. I recently adapted my book Austenland for the screen, and the movie is a 2013 Sundance Film Festival selection.
Thanks for your consideration,
I got a response. The story was rejected.
I share this for other hopeful writers out there. I think it's nice to know that it's a pretty level playing field. There's no Publishing Club and once you're in it, everything comes your way. 99% of the time, it's about the story. My story wasn't good enough for this editor, and nothing in my bio would change his mind.
And that's how it should be.