How to Write a Cover Letter for Poetry Submission | Full Guide

The logical course of action if you have a collection of poems that you’d like to share with the world is to send it to literary journals or poetry publishing firms. Most poetry publishers accept submissions from poets of all levels as long as they follow the submission rules.

The particular submission method will vary by publishing house, but in almost all situations, you’ll want to include a cover letter addressed to the publisher’s poetry editor with your work.

It’s critical to know what you’re doing since a solid cover letter might be the difference between being evaluated and ending up in the slush pile.

In this article, we have put together some tips to help you write an effective cover letter for poetry submission.

What Is a Cover Letter for Submitting a Poem?

When you submit your poetry to a publishing company, literary journal, or poetry contest, you must include a cover letter containing information about the poems you’ve submitted as well as the author (that’s you!).

Although different publishers use different styles, cover letters for poetry submission generally follow a standard pattern that comprises an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

As previously indicated, the cover letter is brief, but it is critical since the editorial staff bases judgments (including whether or not to publish your poetry) on that tiny bit of writing.

It wouldn’t be the document that editors always read first before getting into your poems if it wasn’t so vital.

Why Do They Need It?

A cover letter for poetry submission might contain a variety of information that will help the editor or contest organizer make a judgment.

If the submission is from a non-native English speaker, the cover letter may show this, and the editor might take into account the challenges that such a writer could encounter while writing in a foreign language.

If the submission is from a minor, the editor may need to enlist the help of the writer’s parents or legal guardians to co-sign the publication contract.

A cover letter provides more information than those two, which helps an editor accomplish their work more efficiently.

3 Elements of a Good Cover Letter

In every good cover letter for poetry submission, 3 elements are a must. These elements are;

A Concise Introduction

The entire cover letter must be brief and get to the point as fast as feasible. One of the tricks to crafting a successful cover letter for poetry submission is to use a large stamp on a short letter.

That’s both difficult and simple at the same time. Because the editor is likely to get hundreds of poetry entries, you must write a cover letter that demonstrates respect for the editor’s time and editing responsibilities.

A Courteous Tone

An excellent cover letter for poetry submission has a lovely tone and mentions the editors/publication by name.

By sending a cover letter that appears to be copied and pasted, you don’t want to make a terrible first impression.

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Right Context

You must consider the context while drafting a cover letter. You must keep in mind that this is a poetry submission, thus you must only list qualifications related to writing (unless the publication/editor specifically requests it).

The requirements also give some background; while drafting your cover letter, you must adhere to them to the letter.

How to Write a Cover Letter for Poetry Submission

Your poetry, not your background, is what matters most to poetry publishers. Keep the following tips in mind while drafting a cover letter to accompany your application to a literary journal or publishing house:

Research And Follow Guidelines

The first step in writing your cover letter (and, in certain cases, your poetry) is to investigate your intended magazine, contest, fellowship, etc.

Each of these organizations or organizers has its own set of rules, and entries that do not follow them are automatically rejected.

Address The Organizers/Publishers by Name

Addressing the Organizers/Publishers by their first names demonstrates professionalism and deference.

Cover letters that do this will almost certainly be well received, which is an excellent start for your submission.

Stay on topic

Don’t use your cover letter to give a detailed overview of your CV. If you have any recent publications, include them in a brief bio. But don’t go into detail about your degrees, GPA, or personal references.

It may strengthen your case if you have an advanced degree, such as an MFA, but the quality of your poetry is what matters most.

Make it easy to contact you

Make sure to include your complete name, email address, phone number, and any relevant social media profiles in your pitch letter.

If the submission form permits it, provide a link to your published work when making an online submission.

These links should ideally be placed somewhere on the application other than in the cover letter.

If you have to send entries by mail, attach paper copies of previously published work with the poem you’re submitting.

Be direct

With a courteous tone, address the editor directly. The name of an editor can usually be found on the masthead of a newspaper, and including it in your inquiry letter will assist.

If you don’t know the editor’s name, use the salutation “To Whom It May Concern,” which is more conventional than “Dear Editor.”

If you’re submitting to numerous magazines at the same time, double-check that you’ve matched the proper names to the relevant publishers.

Skip Unnecessary Pleasantries

Directly addressing the editors is welcomed, but don’t give them a ‘newbie alert’ by attempting to be too sweet.

They aren’t your friends, so don’t spend their time with them—get right to the point.

Follow the rules

Respecting a publication’s submission criteria is more crucial than knowing an editor’s name. This begins with ensuring that your poem or collection of poems meets the magazine’s submission guidelines.

The website of a magazine or journal usually has a section on how to submit, and it is your responsibility as a submitter to follow their guidelines.

Some magazines, for example, allow entries all year, while others may only take submissions at particular seasons of the year.

The finest cover letter in the world won’t help you if you’ve annoyed the editor or submission manager, so follow their guidelines.

Recognize that you may have to pay

Poets are not charged to submit to the best modern poetry publications and journals, although a lesser lit mag may ask for donations to keep afloat.

Poetry contests are the sites where you’re most likely to come across a submission fee or a reading fee.

Accept that book publishers are harder to approach

Larger book publishers may continue to accept submissions solely from agents, as is customary in the industry. You won’t need a cover letter if you’re showing your work to an agency.

You can seek tiny publishers or self-publish your first book of poems if you don’t have an agency.

In this regard, submitting a poetry collection is similar to submitting a novel or short pieces of fiction, such as a novella or short story.

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Poetry Cover Letter Example

If this is your first time submitting a cover letter for poetry submission, err on the side of brevity.

Avoid small chat and unctuous flattery of the reader by keeping your word count low, using a common font like Arial or Times New Roman, and steering the discussion toward your genuine creative work.

A decent cover letter for poetry submission may look like this if you follow these guidelines:

To Whom It May Concern:

I’m a poet located in New York, and I’m writing to submit two poems to Harper’s Magazine: “Forgotten Items” and “Step-by-Step.” I’m a frequent reader of the publication, and having my work appear on its pages would be a huge honor.

I started writing poetry as a youngster and have had poems published in literary publications such as the Dayton Quarterly and the Kenyon Review. In 2018, I self-published a poetry book that earned rave reviews from several alternative weeklies. My poetry is available for download at my website.

If you evaluate my entries and think they’re among the finest you’ve gotten for your future issue, I hope you’ll think it’s appropriate to publish them. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Your Name

Also, read this: 3 Rules to Obey in Cover Letter Salutation

In addition

If you retain a template for this type of letter in your files, making submissions when possibilities occur won’t take long. The time it takes for the publisher to respond might range from a few days to many months.

You could believe you’ve been passed over completely, only to receive a publication offer over a year after you initially submitted.

The secret to successful creative writing is perseverance. The majority of inquiries will be turned down—as they are for any writer—but if you believe in your work and are dedicated to success, keep submitting.

If your poetry writing is genuinely exceptional, have faith that an editor will notice and reward you with publishing.


The quality of your poems will get your poems approved and published, not the cover.  So, before you start writing your cover letter, make sure your poetry is ‘on target.’

While they appreciate your poetry, some well-known editors forward the cover letters to their subordinates. In this instance, you must produce poems that are at least as good as your cover letter.

Editors, in most situations, glance at your cover letter before reading your poetry, so you can’t go wrong.

Before you start thinking about how creative you may be with your cover letter, you must first fulfill the publisher’s standards.



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