Let’s talk about submissions

Dear writers,

Some of you need to understand something: we aren’t just assessing your story. We’re also assessing you, trying to figure out if you’re someone we want to work with.

This process begins with your cover letter. Having a long list of previous writing credits doesn’t impact whether we end up accepting your submission; we work solely on the merits of the current submission. However, whether your cover letter comes across as professional or not will make a difference.

Imagine that we have a checklist, and that everybody starts with the same amount of points. Each time you make a basic error, a point or two disappears. Luckily, we want you to succeed, so I’m going to list some of the mistakes we’ve been seeing. Avoiding these will improve your chances.

1. Don’t address it to “Dear editor” if you’re submitting to an anthology. You can look on the anthology submission page and see the name of the editor. Address it to us by name. “Dear editor” is acceptable if you’re submitting to the Showcase or submitting artwork, but “Dear Catherine and Robin,” or “Ms. Leary and Ms. Wolfe,” would be preferable. You want to make a good impression and showing us that you know our names is a good start.

Do not, under any circumstances, address it to “Dear sir/madam.” We haven’t deducted points for this yet, but we will from now on. We understand that Robin is a unisex name, so we added bios  and linked them to our About FFP page. Referring to a “sir” around these parts shows us you haven’t bothered to do your research. We want authors here because they feel they’d fit in, not because we’re just another line on a sheet of potential publishers. If you don’t know who we are and what we want, how do you know if we’d be a good fit?

2. FOLLOW THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. If the submission guideline tells you to put the anthology name in the subject line, do it. If you send us a cover letter with no mention of either anthology, and it’s addressed to “Editor,” and in the letter it says, “I hope you’ll consider this for your anthology”… well, that feels like a form letter. It feels like something you’ve sent out to every publisher you can find. Unless it’s a truly exceptional submission, a form letter is going to get a form rejection.

3. Spell-check before you send your submission. Then read it over for dropped words, improperly used words, and words that the spell-check may have corrected with an incorrect substitution. Better yet, have someone else look it over as well. If your submission is riddled with spelling errors, grammar errors, inappropriate tense changes, and other problems, you sent us a rough draft rather than a polished product. This gives the impression that you don’t care about your story or your craft. Why should we care, if you don’t?

Writers, we’re delighted to have you, and we love seeing submissions in our inbox. Seriously, it’s one of the highlights of our day. But if you want to make sure that you have the best chance to become a Freaky Fountain author, don’t sabotage yourself by sending an unprofessional cover letter.