pbray: (Default)
[personal profile] pbray
You'd think this would be obvious, but recent evidence suggests not.

First, never assume that your cover letter is going to stay attached to your manuscript. This is especially true for electronic submissions, where your attached file may be downloaded and stored separately from the email. Always include your contact info on page 1 of the submission.

Second, always include page headers with the page number and either your name or the story title, preferably both. I received multiple submissions without page headers of any kind, and it was a freaking pain in the butt when the printer spit pages on the floor and two of those stories got mixed up. Not to mention that later I'll wind up adding page numbers to make it easier to discuss the story with my co-editor, e.g. "The scene that starts on page 4 is..." What makes it even more inexplicable is that these stories were submitted in Microsoft Word where adding page headers is a basic function.

Even stranger was the story where the author had forgotten to put their name anywhere in the manuscript. Just a bare title, no name, no contact info, presumably they assumed that I'd be happy to hunt back thru the emails to figure out who had sent it in.

Finally spell check is your friend. Proofreading is your friend. Take that extra hour for one last pass before you send your story in. And if you know you're terrible at catching your own mistakes, have someone else take a look at your work.

Remember, first impressions count. A poorly formatted story sends the signal that you can't be bothered with the details, and will be difficult to work with. Don't give the editor a reason to be cranky before she reads a single line of your story. Because if it comes down to a choice between two stories that are equally good, the editor is going to pick the one that didn't make her sigh with annoyance. Trust me on this one.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-07 08:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jhetley.livejournal.com
Has "standard manuscript format" died the real death?

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-08 05:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pbray.livejournal.com
One wonders. Especially when pros with multiple publishing credits were among the offenders....

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-07 10:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] libwitch.livejournal.com
another words, the basics of story writing sort of go along with "basics of sending a cover letter/resume" and "sending in a journal article submission?" (Do people not know what a running header is, for gods sake?)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-08 06:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pbray.livejournal.com
Yeah, a running header should be obvious. We're pretty easy, we're not specifying margins or specific fonts or line spacing, but providing basic info is kind of a bare minimum.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-07 11:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] melissajm.livejournal.com
Unless, of course, the GLs say No Headers. I've seen that once or twice.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-08 06:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pbray.livejournal.com
Huh, I've never run across that.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-08 11:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] melissajm.livejournal.com
I haven't seen it often, but 1 or 2 places said that they wanted their subs to be anonymous.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-09 03:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pbray.livejournal.com
Ah, I can see anonymous subs being valuable in some ways. But then you'd have to have a fairly robust system for assigning code numbers and associating those numbers with the contact info for the submitters.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-08 05:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jmward14.livejournal.com
Meanwhile, old hacks like me spend a week deliberating whether to follow the F&SF recommended manuscript format (posted on the SFWA site) which recommends Courier and only the story title in the header, or follow thirty plus years of field experience and add my name. I know I'll eventually cave and send them the story in Courier, exactly as the article suggests. But I also know, if the story's rejected, I'll blame myself for not following my instincts, adding my name and using Times Roman. LOL

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-08 06:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pbray.livejournal.com
LOL! I know just what you mean about obsessing over the standard format.

However, it's not a universal fixation. I note that my students from the Odyssey workshop did a great job with their submissions, while some professional authors were shall we say less than professional in what they sent in.

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