“10 rules for writing” (who took a page out of the Guardian’s “Rules for writers” series, who took a page out of Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing . . . I feel like I’m following the yellow-brick road . . . ), here are ten suggestions on submitting. Sending your prized brainchildren to far-off publications may seem daunting, so hopefully this list will ease some of that confusion and anxiety.
1. If submitting prose or multi-paged poems, paginate your submission. Accidents do happen (a gust of wind! a toppling stack!) which make page numbers crucial in piecing your submission back together.
2. Use a legible font. As tempting as it may be to type in jokerman, resist the urge. Times New Roman and Arial are indeed old-school, but the classics never go out of style.
3. Print on clean, white-washed paper. You want your submission to stand out, but using neon-green cardstock may be taking it a little too far.
4. Use the appropriate margin size and line spacing as specified by each publication. Preferences vary from journal to journal, so taking the time to adhere to their formatting guidelines will put a smile on the editor’s face before they’ve even read your opening line.
5. Make sure you’ve included your contact information in the appropriate places. Some journals require the author’s name and address on every page while others prefer to not have any identifying markers at all. Correctly placing your contact information may save your submission from ending up in the recycle bin.
6. Check to see how the publication prefers the submission to be bundled. Some prefer staples; others, paperclips; others still, nothing at all. Each journal has a tried-and-true method for handling submissions, to which your blasphemous staple or paper clip may be the disastrous wrench.
9. Affix proper postage to your SASE. If you’d like your manuscript returned, make sure you’ve included enough stamps to do so. Most journals survive on grants, subscriptions and the kindness of their readers, which sadly doesn’t leave much wiggle room in the annual budget.
Of course, these suggestions pertain mainly to hard-copy submissions. Online and e-mail submissions are a whole other can of worms (perhaps someone will take a page out of my book and author those lists?). But I’ve delayed you long enough. Send us your stories and poems! We’re eagerly waiting to read your work.