Edmund Schubert, editor of Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, has written two must-read posts for new writers on his blog. The first, "Submission Basics," tells what every author should include on their submission: Their Contact Information! It's highly possible your cover letter will get separated from your sub somewhere in the editorial process. The next post is "Basic Definitions for Writers" and defines all those pesky words writers and editors throw around when talking about the submission process.
In addition to being a working editor, Edmund is also a fiction writer whose first novel Dreaming Creek will be published in two weeks. So I suggest giving him a listen, because he's experienced this business from both sides of the submission fence.