The Tenets Of Submitting A Manuscript

The tenets of submitting a manuscript. Ten things to better a writer's chances at publication.

So many times, with "how to" articles, writers are told basically what to and what not to do. However, they are really never hearing an explanation why. This article will take ten basic things to do when submitting your work for publication and explain why you should do them.

1. Write and request guidelines before submitting work:

We have all been guilty of this at one time or another. Anxiously trying to submit work to a market that you know absolutely nothing about. A case in point would be the sending your superbly written romance story to Broken Hearts, only to find out the publication only publishes work belonging to the horror genre. It's important for us as writers to request guidelines for markets that we're interested in submitting. Guidelines not only give the submission preparation requirements, but they also give the writer a glimpse into the philosophy of the publication, therefore giving the writer a peek into the philosophy of the editor as well.

2. Study the market(s) you're trying to break into:

Writing for guidelines is just the first step in getting ready for submitting a manuscript. Taking the time to study your target publication is the next. Invest in a sample copy of the publication. You'll be surprised at what the guidelines will be able to tell you. It [the sample publication you purchased] tells you what the editor is more likely to accept. It gives you a glimpse into the length of the material that's selected. Not paying attention to your target market is like trying to fish without a fishing pole. You are less likely""though I am not saying you can't be published without purchasing a sample issue""to land a sale without doing so.

3. Submit your work in the standard manuscript format, unless otherwise directed by the editor:

Let's face it""writing for possible publication is a profession and editors expect you to act in a professional manner. This includes preparing your manuscripts in a professional manner. Your manuscripts should be prepared in standard manuscript format. For more information on the proper way to submit your work, check the latest editions of the Novel and Short Market, for short stories and the Poet's Market, for poetry. Both of these great treasures can be found in local bookstores and are published by Writer's Digest Books.

4. Be patient with the editor in waiting for a response:

This little rule of thumb may be a little scary for some writers. Through our excitement, we tend to forget that a manuscript we thought was sent out six weeks ago actually went out three days ago. Try to give the editor a little time to get back to you on the status of your manuscript. If after four weeks you hear nothing, drop a friendly little postcard and ask about the status of your work. Editors understand that you want to give your manuscript the best chance to be published and are happy to inform you on the whereabouts of your manuscript. Remember, some editors receive hundreds of submissions daily, so as hard as it may be, try to be a little patient.

5. Enclose a self address stamped envelope with your submission.

Make sure the SASE has adequate postage to cover the return of your manuscript. If the manuscript is disposable, send a thirty-two-cent stamped envelope to cover the cost of having your response sent back to you. Magazine publishers incur a lot of cost when producing a periodical, paying for the return of your manuscript shouldn't be one of them.

6. When sending a submission on disk, inform the editor which format you save the manuscript in.

Electronic submissions are becoming a very popular means of submitting manuscripts. Though this is a more convenient form of submitting work, be sure to document what format you save the manuscript in. If you're not sure your word processing program is compatible with what the editor is using, give him or her a call or drop a line in the mailbox. Believe me, folks, there's nothing like trying to play detective and run through a whole conversion list to find out what format a manuscript has been saved.

7. If the editor accepts handwritten submissions, make sure you neatly write your submission and follow the general rules for formatting manuscripts.

Again, writing for publication is a business and you should approach it in a professional manner. Handwritten submission, though not accepted in many publications, should follow the same formatting guidelines as you would if you were typing your manuscript.

8. Have fun with your writing:

Yes, writing is a profession and you should go into it with a professional attitude, but like with anything else you to do, you should try to have fun while on your publishing endeavor. It doesn't make sense to stress yourself out and wind up having a heart attack""you have more manuscripts to write, and more publications to submit them [manuscripts].

9. If the editor accepts your manuscript for publication, return any information they give you as soon as possible:

Some editors cannot publish your work until they have the necessary information returned to them. It's in your best interest to return any forms or other documents the editor gives you. Remember, you don't want anything to impede seeing your work in print!

10. Keep a copy of the work you submit:

Many new writers forget this very important tenet, which is why I am listing it here, so it would be the last thing you read. Look in any writer's bible and you will see these words written on page one, "Thou shalt make copies of all thy work!" One of the most common mistakes writers make""yes, sometimes even the seasoned vets skimp on this too""next to forgetting to put postage on their SASE's, is forgetting to keep a copy of their work for their records. You may want to submit that piece to another market and if you send away your only copy of the manuscript, you could be robbing yourself out of another potential market.

There you have it, nothing bewildering, nothing impossible to remember. Doing these ten things won't guarantee that an editor will accept your manuscript, but it least you won't cheat yourself out of an opportunity to have your manuscript seriously considered. Good luck and keep writing.

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