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Magazine cover letters

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Hi all,

I am submitting to Highlights for the first time, and I was wondering what my cover letter should include. I have writing experience, but it is journalism and city magazine experience, not children's literature. Should I mention that? Do I pitch my poem or just give the title and line count and let the poetry speak for itself?

I am super hopeful about this one, so I just want to do everything right to give it the best chance possible.
#1 - June 23, 2014, 08:00 PM

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I am not an expert on successful submissions, but for fiction and poetry (and picture books as well) my cover letters/pitches are somewhat minimalist. As you say, if the text is short it can speak for itself.

For nonfiction pitches, editors may prefer more extensive background on credentials and research, but that's not the question. Still, maybe some of NF magazine writers could chime in...
#2 - June 23, 2014, 08:47 PM
Kell Andrews

THIS OR THAT, Tilbury House, 2021
THE BOOK DRAGON, Sterling, 2018

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I have published a few poems in Highlights and High Five. My cover letters are always very simple.

I briefly describe the piece. In the case of poems that means, title, theme and format (if applicable). This is usually no more than two sentences. In one case, I knew they were looking for poems that would appeal to boys as well as girls, so I included that mine would fit the bill. In other cases, the poems were "concrete"  or "finger plays," so I included that in my description.

Then I write a brief biography that includes my membership in SCBWI and children's publishing history. For my first acceptance, I didn't have any publishing history in children's literature, so I didn't include anything except the fact that I have a background in education. You could certainly write that you are a journalist and magazine writer.

But, ultimately, they don't care if you have no publishing history in children's literature or have published a ton. The poem will always have to speak for itself. The cover letter, in my experience, is a courtesy and brief introduction.

Good luck!
#3 - June 24, 2014, 02:22 AM
Young Henry and the Dragon (2011, Shenanigan Books)


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