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A Few Rules for Manuscript Management

Like everything in life, there are rules you can follow to get ahead in writing.  Here are six suggestions for new writers many editors and publishers have found helpful.  Those who write keeping the following suggestions in mind enhance their chance for a publisher accepting their project.

If you have been in the writing business for a while, you probably already know the following.  For those of you who are just starting out, these suggestions may assist you in starting your writing career.

Suggestion Number One - Send your manuscript only when requested.  Only send your entire manuscript when directed by the publication.  If you do send your manuscript, send a copy.  This is important: never send your original, especially if it is the only copy you possess

Editors understand you are anxious to find a publisher.  They know you want to see your work in print.  For an editor to make a judgment call on your book, they need only to see a synopsis and two or three sample chapters.  If they require more information for a decision, they will contact you to request it.  If they think your book is going to make money, they will be in touch.  For magazine articles, you should query the editor with a letter.

 Number Two - Enclose an SASE.  This is very important.  If you choose to send a hard copy of your manuscript and you want it returned, you must supply editors or publishers with a self addressed stamped envelope.  Small businesses cannot afford to return the many manuscripts received.  For instance, to return 50 to 100 manuscripts at an average cost of $2.50 to $4.50 per manuscript could cost as much as $450.  This is quite a monthly expense; most small businesses cannot afford to budget such costs.

In conjunction with number four below, one of the very best and fastest ways into print is by using the technology of our time.  In other words, rather than mailing your entire manuscript in paper, put it on computer disk and mail that instead.  Better yet, you can attach it to an email and send it over the Internet.  Keep in mind that one computer disk is a lot lighter than an entire manuscript.  It also has the added advantage of being in a format ready to work by the editor.

To repeat, if you want anything returned from any publisher or editor, you must supply the return postage.

 Number Three - Use Media Mail Rates.  When using the post office to mail material such as a manuscript, tell the clerk it is a book and request, “media mail” rates.  The rate for media mail is considerably less than first class.

 Number Four - Get Microsoft Word.  This is the 21st Century; try to use a computer and common software for your writing.  Most organizations use Microsoft Word for their writing and editing needs.  Remember that editors are very much like electricity – they are going to take the path of least resistance when it comes to work.  If your project is hand written or typed on paper, it becomes difficult to process, which reduces the likelihood of your piece being accepted.  Right or wrong, this is the new norm.

Typewriters or the use of pens, pencils, and paper makes converting a book into a very long process.  This equates into time, which of course, equals money.  Keep in mind that publishers are interested in saving money. 

If you do not possess a computer with Microsoft Word but are using a computer, you can save your work in rich text file format (rtf).  Word and other word processing programs can convert .rtf files into a useable format.

Number Five - Sell, Sell, SellContinue selling your project.  It is not sold until you have either a check for a magazine article, or a contract for your book.  Be careful of knowing your market.  Some editors and publishers will not consider a simultaneous submission.  If they do accept simultaneous submissions, continue to market.  Keep in mind it is sometimes a long time between a submission and an answer.

 Number Six - Market yourself.  This is easier said than done: do not become discouraged.  Believe in yourself and in your work.  Continue to market your projects.  When your magazine article or book returns from an editor, go over your manuscript again proofing for any mistakes, and then mail it out to another publication.  Also bear in mind you may or may not receive any feedback from an editor.  If an editor offers constructive criticism, take it to heart and use it to improve your writing.

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