- Trim, trim, trim. Is your story as tight as it can be? Just because we have a 7000 word limit does not mean your story should be 6098 words. Too much unncessary exposition or plotting is one of the most common problems I see. Even for may of the stories we end up publishing, the editors end up cutting out the extra.
- Follow the guidelines. Remember to include a word count in the cover letter. You won't get rejected if you forget, but stuff like that puts the editor in a bad mood before he or she starts reading the story
- Hook me in the opening line, opening paragraph, or opening page. If I have no idea what your story is about, where it is going, or what's interesting about it after the first page, I may decide not to read much more of it.
- Personalize your cover letter. If we've met you at a conference, workshop, or convention, remind us. If you've ACTUALLY READ our 'zine, tell us what you read and why you think your story fits. All of this will not guarantee that we'll publish your story, but a personalized touch does add a spark of sunlight to the hours we spend in a dark room in front of a computer.
- Include information about your family, pets, day job, etc. in the cover letter. It's not that we don't care about these things . . . well, actually it is.
- Include information about the plot or theme of your story in the cover letter. Hopefully, we will be able to figure that out when we read the story. If not, we won't end up publishing it anyhow.
- Use a cover/title page. It makes your story look like it was written for 10th grade creative writing class, and it makes us scroll down the screen more than we have to. Yes, we're that lazy.
- Include as a credit in your bio that you have a "novel coming out this fall." That doesn't mean anything. I have a couple of novels that I wrote sitting on my hard drive, but that does not mean they are publication credits. If you want to impress us (and it's true) say this: "My novel, The Vanquishing Sword of Death is coming out this summer and is being published by Tor." (The "published by" part is key).