So, you finished a story. AWESOME! You’re reading to submit it to a market. You have checked the submission guidelines. Awesome! Do the guidelines request you to address specific things in your cover letter? Sometimes this includes past publishing credits, or nationality if there is some sort of submission requirement. It may ask for wordcount or genre. Always follow the written requests.
If there are not any specifically laid out in the Submission Guidelines, then you should follow a simple approach. Short fiction cover letters are not novel query letters. Short story fiction needs a brief cover letter, don’t get fancy, don’t get pretty and it is advisable to never, ever, include a synopsis of the story unless you are specifically asked to do so. A sample one is below.
Submissions may be done via e-mail, or third party such as Moksha or Submittable. When in doubt, read and follow the directions. It demonstrates that you care enough about the editor and the process to do what they ask. They will demonstrate they care but not summarily reject your story. So long as you’re following the rules.
Here’s a basic example of a short fiction query letter:
Please find my short story “Aardvaarks From the Planet Klepton” attached for your review. I believe it will be of interest to your readers.
My work has appeared in Annals of Fantasy, Horror Creepers Online, and is forthcoming from MLP Short Fiction.
Thank you for your time.
You should note a few things here. One is that it, as recommended, is short. Pick your up-to-three-total best publication credits. Best means ones you’re most proud of, or ones that you think will get you the most “street cred”. Don’t make up publications, and if you dont have any, dont worry. This isnt novel querying, this is short fiction.