Writing Resource – Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript

format-submit manuscriptFrom the Back Cover:

“Prepare and Present Your Work Like a Pro!

Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript, 3rd Edition, ( by Chuck Sambuchino and the Editors of Writer’s Digest Books ) gives you all the information you need to craft a winning submission. Fully updated, this comprehensive resource now features more than 100 sample letters and manuscript pages, expanded instruction for electronic submissions, updated formatting and submitting guidelines, and new insider tips from top agents and editors.”

This 305-page comprehensive guide covers it all – from non-fiction to fiction. From articles and short stories to novels and screenplays.

Each Chapter is something different, but they all have the same elements. They are as follows:

  1. What You Need to Submit
  2. Query Letters
  3. Electronic Queries
  4. Cover Letters
  5. Formatting the submission itself

There’s also an appendix with examples of forms needed, such as release and consent forms, and permissions, plus advice on how to set up record keeping for contacts and submissions.

As an example, I’ll use some things from Chapter 5, Novels.

Example of a Cover letter for a short story submission

Example of a Cover letter for a short story submission

A list of things this book recommends you have ready before querying for a novel are:

  • A cover letter
  • A synopsis
  • At least three consecutive chapters
  • A chapter-by-chapter outline
  • An author bio

I didn’t submit my novel by “cold call” – I had met those whom I was submitting to, but generally speaking these are good things to have available. BUT – it’s always best to research who you’re submitting to first. Many publishers don’t accept unsolicited submissions. Agents usually will. I have in the past, submitted articles by cold call, or cold query, and I feel these examples are educational and instructional.

As an example of a literary agency, I picked Steve Laube Agency. Here’s the link of their guidelines. They tell you exactly what they want and how they want it. What I would use the book for is generally speaking how to format.

The fun parts of this manual are the examples printed within the book. They have examples of good and bad query letters. They list things the author of the letter did right or wrong. Let’s look at this example pictured to the right. It’s an example of an electronic cover letter.

The first block is the pertinent information, such as: TO: email, CC: any copies to anyone, SUBJECT: Short Story Submission DATE: Today’s date. Make sure all emails are correct.

In the CC (short for the old carbon copy) – the book says it’s not a bad idea to put your email address here, to help with recordkeeping.

The books follows with standard snail mail writing format, with who it’s going to (name and address), the salutation, the body of the letter, then the writer’s signature block with all contact information. Here’s what the body of the letter says, with the notes from either side included at the end of the paragraph).

A note on the salutation: If you’re not sure whether the editor is a male or female because of their name, write the name. In this example “Dear Toni Graham.” If it had said Tony, I’d think it was a man. I’m guessing this Toni is a lady. But think of other names such as Francis or Frances, Jaime or Jamie, etc.

Here’s a quote from the example cover letter.

I am submitting my short story, “Things From Which You Can Never Recover” (6,465 words) for your consideration in Cimarron Review. The story is attached in a Microsoft Word document. (the authors like the use of the word count. It helps editors know how long the submission is. “State how the story is attached. Make sure the publication accepts e-mailed stories.” )

I won’t bore you with the rest of the letter, but I will list the notes.

If you’re submitting to other publications, say so. Give a reason why you chose this publication to submit to. “Let the editor know this magazine gets first dibs on publishing this story, and how long he’ll wait for a response.” Be polite and short when signing off.

If you’re a writer, have you submitted your work yet? Leave a comment and let me know. What were your results, or are you still in the waiting game?

 

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