I'm working with a writer at the moment on the beginning of a project and she asked my advice on where to send her stories - she not really being that familiar with what kind of stories many of the overseas markets are publishing. It got me thinking.
Then I got a submission the other day to Shiny with a cover letter that suggested we might like this writer's work because they write in a similar style to what we are publishing. Now, you'll forgive me but I know exactly who has subscribed to what issues of Shiny - the subs are hardly that multudinous that I could not notice. So ... I see this cover letter and I think "how would this writer know? They haven't read an issue (at least not legally)". And then? And then I read the story. And I think, "oh .. this writer has read some reviews of the issues and knows issue 1 had the theme of death ..." But really? I do not print stories that objectify women and that describe disfigurement of female corpses in long plotless detail. Don't send them to me. I do, though, know several markets where you can send that fetishist material.
My point? If you read the markets you intend to send to, or you do a bit of broad reading before you start subbing, you might not waste your time, the editor's time and you might just be able to marry up your story with the right outlet.
It's also kind of insulting, to tell the truth, when you get a sub like that with that kind of cover letter: you don't want to spend $3 buying a copy of my mag but you want me to give you $50 for *that*.