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    Mastering Snail-Mail Manuscript Submissions

    Writers love to write except when it comes to preparing and mailing manuscripts. Maybe you’ve tried your hand at snail-mail manuscripts—maybe not. A professional looking manuscript is always important when marketing your writing, especially via the United States Post Office.

    Not as liberal as e-mail, snail-mail manuscript submissions can be rejected solely on exterior appearance. Soda stains or children’s dirty fingerprints on the outside of an envelope may cause the envelope to remain unopened. A sloppily formatted manuscript can hasten rejection, while a properly formatted manuscript can speed up an acceptance letter, or phone call from an editor.

    Taking the time to write a manuscript in a professional format and mail in a presentable package can be time-consuming. By taking the necessary time, and by following a few guidelines, you can increase the odds of your manuscript being read and possibly accepted.

    The guidelines I’ve listed below may not be suitable for all publications. Always read the market’s writers’ guidelines before preparing your manuscript. Some publications may prefer to receive submissions in another format style.

    1. Use plain white, 8 ½ x 11, 20 lb. (min) paper.

    2. Do not hand write—type using 10­12 point Times New Roman.

    3. Use 1" ­ 1 1/4" margins (all margins).

    4. Place real name, address, phone number, e-mail, or fax number in upper left corner (single-space).

    5. Place the approximate word count and rights in upper right corner (single-space)—this would also be the area to place a copyright notice (under the rights for sale, and if needed) and word counts for each sidebar (if applicable).

    6. Drop one-third of the page down and center the title (use caps).

    7. Double-space and center your by-line (do not cap “by”) under the title. If using a pseudonym, this is where you place it. Single-space, center, and type your real name (in parentheses) under the pseudonym by-line. If no pseudonym, then use your real name in the byline.

    8. Double-space twice and then indent five spaces to start your first paragraph. If your manuscript is a poem, center it, single space each line, and double-space between each stanza.

    9. Double-space between each following paragraph.

    10. Do not number the first page.

    11. On the second page, and every one thereafter, place your last name, the page number, and the title (if title is too long, just part of the title will do in the upper left corner. Separate the name, the page number, and the title with a dash in between (e.g. Spork—2—Mastering). This is called a "slugline" and helps identify any individual pages that may get separated from the original manuscript.

    12. Do not end a page with the first line of a paragraph. Begin the paragraph on the following page.

    13. Begin any new chapter of a book on a separate, "sluglined" page.

    14. To denote the completion of your manuscript, you can type , --30--, or ###.

    15. Spell check, spell check, spell check!
    16. Include a cover letter (if appropriate). Cover letter should be placed on top of the manuscript. Do not staple any pages together—use a paper clip, or a large paper clamp.

    17. If your manuscript is less than six pages, fold and mail in a #10 business envelope, or fold in half and mail in a 6 x 9 envelope. For longer manuscripts, do not fold, but mail flat in a 9 x 12 envelope or a manuscript box (the box could be used for novel manuscripts).

    18. Enclose, along with your manuscript, a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) for return of your manuscript, or a reply from an editor.

    19. If photographs are included with your manuscript, place them in sturdy photo mailers for protection. Include a delivery memo and a caption sheet. Don’t forget to supply a self-addressed, stamped photo mailer for their return.

    20. Do not hand write address/mailing labels, or hand write addresses on the envelope. Use typed labels for a professional appearance.

    Snail-mail is not a thing of the past yet, so mastering snail-mail manuscript submissions is a must for many writers. By your adherence to the list above, I can not guarantee that your snail-mailed manuscript submissions are accepted by editors. But you can satisfy most editors’ manuscript requirements when having to snail-mail your work for review. And that’s what’s important—right? Right!

    Copyright © 2000 Patricia Spork

    Patricia Spork is the owner of The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ


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