I promised you The Perfect Cover Letter:
Cell Block B
2nd Tier, #34
Ft. Leavenworth Federal Prison
Ft. Leavenworth, KS 66027
Enclosed please find the first three chapters and an outline for my 120,000 word mystery novel, Mafia Wedding.
My previous works include "Pushing Up Daisys" (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, June 2001, nominated for an Edgar, 2002), and "Sleeps with the Fishes," (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, September, 2002, reprinted in Year's Best Mystery Stories, 2002, Graham, ed., March 2003).
I am currently serving seven-to-ten for racketeering in Ft. Leavenworth Federal Prison.
This is a disposable manuscript.
Salvatore "Sally the Writer" Luchese
First NAME OF EDITOR SPELLED RIGHT. (If you can't do this, perhaps you need a new hobby.)
Second: Very briefly: length, genre, and title.
Third: Any pertinent credits. Only the most recent and most prestigious. A good sale ten years ago means that you haven't sold anything since. A bunch of 1/4 cent-a-word recently means that you aren't selling. Don't even bother mentioning self-published or e-publications unless you sold enough on your own to hit the Times Bestseller List. If all you have is one or two lower-tier mags, and they're recent, then you might list them. If you've got eight or ten lower-tier mags and they stretch back over three or four years ... better to leave the impression that you're unpublished rather than brand the Scarlet L of Loser on your forehead.
Fourth: Any special qualifications you may have for writing this book.
Fifth: Any other notes (disposable manuscript).
INCLUDE AN SASE.
The primary purpose of a cover letter is to give the editor something with your name, address, and phone number on it that will fit in a file cabinet. The secondary purpose is to give the editor somewhere to put her coffee cup without putting a brown ring on your manuscript.
Be brief, be professional, and SPELL THE EDITOR'S NAME RIGHT.