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For Aspiring Writers

After finishing your novel

By Rachel Ann Nunes

Please don't beleaguer published writers by asking them how and where to submit a manuscript. There are books and books about the subject! Asking only shows that you haven't done your homework and you want someone to do it for you. If you've read everything and need a little clarification, any author would be glad to help you. But likely you will have all your questions answered—and many more you never thought of—if you just pick up a book at the library.

General guidelines for submissions.
The work of writing.
The myths of writing.

General guidelines for submissions:

  1. Double-spaced with one-inch margins. Don't bind the manuscript except with a rubber band or with a paperclip for sample chapters.

  2. Don't use fancy font. Use Times New Roman or a similar font.

  3. Single space after periods unless using Courier. (WP will automatically correct this. I know many of you grew up typing two spaces after periods, but that was in the days of Courier font. Several editors have told me that double space is distracting to them. In the editing process, they are changed to one space.)

  4. Name, title, and page number on every page.

  5. Use the copyright symbol, but don't worry about filing for copyright. Your publisher will do this for you before the book is published. If publishers stole manuscripts they wouldn't be in business very long.

  6. Use a query letter stating briefly what your book or article is about and your qualifications for writing it, if any.

  7. Never send query or manuscript blindly—find an editor's name. You may call the publisher to request a name.

  8. Always enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) for return communication.

  9. Don't do anything overly cutsie in your letter. (Example: an outline from the viewpoint from the book's character.)

  10. Research where to send your work. See who is publishing what you write and what they want you to send. Don't just send to everyone. That is a waste of the publisher's time and yours. They won't look favorably upon you for it.

  11. Research what they want you to send them, be it sample chapters, a query letter, etc.

  1. 99.9% of writers have a file full of rejections.

  2. If you don't send anything out, you will never publish.

  3. Rewrite if no one accepts after a year or so of trying.

  4. Always keep something in the mail. That way you always have hope.

  5. Consider rejection a part of your education—actually cheaper than college! (But keep taking those classes if you have not yet graduated!)

  6. If an editor ever writes something encouraging on your rejection, be excited! Submit something else right away!

The work of writing:
  1. Appearances - you will have to do a lot of these to promote your work. These include booksignings.

  2. Speaking - you will be asked often to speak about your novel subject or writing process. Speaking is a great way to spread word of your work.

  3. Taxes and expenses - keeping track of expenses, mileage, and income is a must. Not fun!

  4. Above all, keep writing! A lot of people would like to have written, but not to actually sit down and get it on the page. It's a lot of work to be a writer. But it's worth every effort!

The myths of writing:
  1. Money— you're rich if you are published. Fact: most writers make an modest wage after several years of steadily publishing. You must continue to write to spark new sales. Writers never get into writing for the money, but for the love of the work.

  2. That you now KNOW IT ALL since you're published. Fact: many writers are completely stunned and amazed after their first few books are accepted. It takes a long while to feel secure in your career. You must keep learning.

  3. Writers write once a month when the muse strikes and the rest of the time sits on the couch watching soaps and eating bonbons. Fact: Ha! Remember that writing is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.