The cool thing about writing is that it doesn’t matter how you look. Anyone having a bad hair day, mismatched socks, or the most unflattering outfit can get into print. But the bad news is that when submitting an article for print, whatever you turn in represents you. And believe me, you want your writing to look like your smashing black suit.
This is basic writing stuff. But you’d be surprised at how many veteran writers, writers who’ve been published in newspapers and magazines dozens of times, don’t follow these very simple rules. I know, because I’m fresh off reading some submissions for More Sand in My Bra and I saw it with my own two eyes.
So, here are some easy principles to put into practice.
- Put your name at the top of your story.
- Put your contact details at the top of your story
- Have a header (or footer) on each page of your article so that your name and contact info, and the title of your story are on each page of your submissions.
- Include your cover letter, or personal email somewhere in your attachment
And now, let me tell you what I’ve been finding.
Throughout my entire experience as an editor at Travelers’ Tales, I’ve read submissions without contact details on the story. And it drives me nuts. Here’s what you need to know.
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STORIES GET SEPARATED FROM EMAILS
When you turn in a submission to an editor (even an editor that you know well), there is a good chance that they put that email, or download that attachment into a file to read at a later date. In the case with anthologies, we accumulate many dozens of stories. Sometimes the stories are printed, sometimes they are stored on a computer desktop. But the point is that when you download the attachment, YOUR STORY CAN LEAVE THE EMAIL IT CAME IN WITH. Now, I don’t think I have to spell it out for you, but when I open a story and I like it, I’m going to want to know who wrote it. If there is no name attached to the story, I’m going to get frustrated. And you never want an editor to associate disappointment with your writing.
PRINTED PAGES CAN FALL OFF A DESK
So, if you were reading a few paragraphs back and thought, if I put my name on the story, why do I have to have it on every page? This is easy. Because sometimes we print out your story instead of reading it online. And sometimes there are gusts of winds, or cats, or dogs with big tongues, or earthquakes. No one is exempt from having a story get out of order. So, in addition to putting the title of the story, your name, and your phone number and/or email in your footer, please also put the page number. It’s like article insurance.
INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO DO A HEADER/FOOTER IN WORD
Type type type, anguish anguish anguish. Rewrite rewrite rewrite. Bingo, now you have the best story ever and you want to add your header/footter to the article before submitting it.
1.Go to the top of the word document where you see Word File Edit View Insert Format Font, etc
2. Click on “View” and scroll down the dropdown menu until you see (and click) “Header and Footer”
3. A horizontal bar should pop up across your doc. And there will also be a text box with empty space surrounded by dashed lines and a blinking cursor with in. This is where you type.
4. Type: Jen Leo | The Best Story I Ever Wrote | 702-555-5555 | email@example.com | (then click the “#” by using this number sign, you are inserting the page number of your word doc. And it will change automatically, you don’t have to do anything. Nothing is written in stone about formating. You can put the info in any order or use horizontal lines as opposed to vertical ones. This part doesn’t really matter. Alternative: Jen Leo -The Best Story I Ever Wrote – 702-555-5555 – firstname.lastname@example.org – #
**I like to make this right justified.
**I also like to make the first page different and without the footer (or header doesn’t matter) because I already have my name and contact details (and word count) in the upper left hand section of the paper.
The button to use for a diff first page is the icon with a 1 on what looks like a piece of paper along with a header stemming on top and a footer on the bottom.
Play with the header and footer feature so that you get comfortable with it and get to know the buttons. Then use them. 🙂
Ok, lesson over, but I’d like to think a valuable one. Good luck with your writing! Bylines, bylines, BYLINES!!!