Thursday, January 28, 2010
Q & A 175
I've read that it's important to address cover letters to the editor by name. But when I look at magazine mastheads there are often several editors, or an editor, a managing editor and a senior editor. Is it appropriate to email and ask to whom a cover letter should be addressed, or is that likely to irritate the staff? Is putting one of the editors' names down adequate?
The managing editor bosses people around and takes two-hour, six-martini lunches. You don't want her. The senior editor used to be the editor till they kicked him upstairs. It's a figurehead position requiring no work, so he never comes in. You don't want him.
When I get a query addressed specifically to me, I think, How'd you get my name? You been searching the Internet for me? You some kind of stalker? Then I sic the cops on the sender.
Based on your first sentence, apparently there are editors who look favorably upon those who know their names. If this is because it proves you've done your research, and you've already checked the magazine's web site, then an email is your research, and they can hardly complain. Besides, it doesn't matter if you irritate a staff member, as long as your eventual query goes to someone else.
If you can't get a name, you're probably safe addressing your query to the submissions department or to the position of the person most likely to read it, i.e. Dear Entry-level Slush Reader. Better yet, try to get on their good side with something more complimentary, like Dear Literary Analyst Extraordinaire.
Posted by Evil Editor at 8:39 AM