Who Ya Gonna Call?

You’ve gotten your manuscript typed, made a list and checked it twice (at least) and you are ready to send it to a magazine. The question is “To Whom?”

If you are unfamiliar with making proper contact, here’s a clue:

I sold my first western to “Louis L’Amour’s Western Magazine” and my first nonfiction to “Off Duty” magazine but did not address the editor. You need to know that even small press magazines have a busy staff. Look for a thing called the masthead — this is a listing of the publication staff.

Editors (Managing Editors) have the ultimate decisions on accepting submissions. Because they have such an influx of these, they rely on “first readers” which are listed in the masthead as assistant editors or special category editors (fiction editors, sports editors, etc.) That’s the person you need to address in your cover letter.

When you contact them, use such terms as “your magazine” to make them feel important. Scan past issues to see if they have written stories and mention that you liked (whatever their title was). Again, that makes them feel important. You don’t have to lie if you hated their article, just bypass that and look for something good to say.

Once you are accepted, send a follow-up not thanking them personally. That cements your name in their mind and they will remember you on future submissions.

Another tip, if you meet an editor at a writers conference, say hello and ask what they are looking for in the months ahead. When you contact them, remind them of your meeting.

Del Garrett
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