Your Perfect Cover Letter
Most literary magazines request a cover letter along with your writing submission. This is just way to introduce your work and introduce yourself. Its tone should be polite, professional and unassuming. Here's a sample:
123 Anytown, USA
Dear Ms. Bumblebee, (Dorothy Bumblebee is the editor of "Literary Magazine." You should know the name of the fiction editor for the journal you submit to. If you don’t know the name, you can say, “Dear Fiction Editors.” But it’s always better to address the letter to a specific person.)
I am a long-time fan of Literary Magazine. Recently I was awed by Sven Svendleberg’s short story that appeared in your winter issue. I am sending along my own story to be considered for submission, “The Weird Times of Bob Jones.” (It’s always good to name something specific about the journal that you like. If you don’t know this, you can just say, “I am submitting my short story, 'X', to be considered for publication in your journal.”)
I am an English teacher living in the Boston area. My fiction has appeared in xx, yy, ss, ss and is forthcoming in hh. (This bio should be as brief and to the point as possible. If you have no publishing credits, you can say that! Feel free to say “I have never published a work of fiction before.” Editors like discovering new talent! To flesh out your bio, simply offer a few tidbits that are a) relevant to your story, or b) interesting about you, i.e. "I've been eating nothing but shoelaces for the past two years.")
This story is a simultaneous submission. I shall immediately withdraw it if it is accepted elsewhere. (You MUST tell editors you are submitting elsewhere and MUST withdraw your submission if it is accepted somewhere else. Also, make sure you are submitting to a journal that accepts simultaneous submissions. Some do not.)
Thanks for your time.