Submitting userfriendly manuscripts

One of the first questions students on my creative writing courses ask is 'Do I have to type my manuscript?'

Handwritten manuscripts are almost always returned unread so, if you want to be published, your manuscript must be typewritten in double-line spacing on one side only of A4-sized white paper.

The equipment you use is a matter of personal preference but if you intend writing for mainstream magazines or newspapers on a regular, professional basis, then being user-friendly takes on a whole new meaning.

Unless otherwise stated, fiction manuscripts should still be submitted on A4 white paper as above. However, once a short story has been accepted for publication in a mainstream publication, you will probably be asked to re-submit it via email. Bearing in mind that this acceptance could well be the first of many, the initial outlay for a PC will prove an excellent investment.

Technophobic article writers, on the other hand, can face real problems as magazines and newspapers tend to look to electronic communication for their topical features. Rather than posting a completed manuscript, would-be contributors are usually advised to submit their idea, together with a working outline, via fax or email.

Whilst there is still plenty of opportunity in the huge range of smaller, specialised publications, ambitious article and short story writers cannot afford to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the impact of the Internet on the mainstream publishing industry. For more information on writing for the mainstream market, see my book Writing for Magazines.

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