The Dos and Donts of Manuscript Submissions
If youve already done any or all of these things - dont panic - chalk it up to the beginners rights of passage, take a deep breath, and prepare yourself to submit your next go round in a more professional manner.
1. Do not send your submission in fancy envelopes with bright colors, cutesy stamps, or witty sayings penned across it.
2. Do use white or manila envelopes appropriate to the size of your submission: 9x12 for work that is over 12 pages - If less than 12, you can fold work in half once, and use an appropriate sized envelope. If over 100 pages, use an appropriate sized first class mailer box.
3. Dont use off-white or colored paper for your actual submission.
4. Do use plain, white, 20lb bond paper.
5. Do not use fancy fonts, different colors, happy faces or other unnecessary symbols in your text.
6. Do use clear, dark, black print and a standard 12 size font. (usually new times roman) Dot matrix print is usually frowned upon, as well as poorly made copies or faded print. (Buy that new ink cartridge!)
7. Dont tell the editor in your cover letter how much your kids, husband, mother, loved your story.
8. Do briefly mention if the piece youre offering has won any relevant contests, (national or local) or has been published elsewhere. (magazines or e-published)
9. Dont assume that an editor wants to see five of your stories at once, even if you do have a series youd like to pitch.
10. Do send ONE of your best stories to any one editor at a time. If you have a complete series or are working on a series, mention that briefly in your cover letter, giving the editor the option to request others if they so choose.
11. Dont tell the editor in your cover letter how inexperienced you are - "Ive never done this before, but thought Id give it a shot!" - If you dont have any prior publishing or writing experience, keep that information to yourself!
12. Do tell the editor if you have any credentials or experience relevant to the work you are offering. Ex: If you are sending a story about life in Nepal and you lived or traveled there, include the information. If you are sending a story that concerns lessons in grammar, reading or any other academic achievement and you are a teacher, thats something the editor will want to know!
13. Dont forget to include the SASE! (self addressed stamped envelope)
14. Do make sure to include the appropriate postage and envelope size if you want the work returned.
© of Sheri Gilbert April 2000