Monday, May 02, 2011

How To Wonderfully WriteSex (10)

Check it out: my new post at the fantastic WriteSex site just went up. Here's a tease (for the rest you'll have to go to the site):

It can be very weird being an editor as well as a writer. It’s definitely a kind of schizophrenia, being on both sides of the fence at once: spending the morning rejecting other writers’ stories and then crying myself to sleep when it happens to me. Schizophrenia? Actually it’s more like a kind of sex — bad sex: mornings fucking someone, and then getting fucked myself. Kind of appropriate for smut writing and editing, no?

While I could on for pages and pages about why certain stories don’t make the cut for a project, I’d rather deal with something more … mundane for now — but something that has recently been on my mind. In other words, manuscripts and cover letters.

While I completely agree that good work will always win-out, there is a certain amount of packaging that is needed to get the work to the editor so that it arrives with a smile and not a grimace — and, speaking from experience, sometimes a frown or a grin can be the difference between acceptance or rejection.

Manuscripts are not resumes. The trick with resumes is to catch the eye, to get yours stand out above the rest. Career counselors often recommend bright colors and tricks to get the potential employer to spot a resume in a pile of potentials — but manuscripts are exactly the opposite. With a manuscript you want the work to be the only thing the editor notices — not that you printed the story on bright red paper, or that you used a teeny-tiny font. Anything that gets in the way of the editor reading what you written is a strike against you. Now no real editor will reject a story just because you didn’t know about Standard Manuscript Format (more on that later) but if reading the story is a chore — or you neglected important information with the submission — you might look to be too much trouble to deal with. Remember, there are usually dozens of other stories sitting on that editor’s desk, just waiting to be easier to deal with or read.



Emme said...

Thanks for this!

It's the kind of rubber-meets-the-road information that I don't know and really, really WANT to know. The kind of thing that experienced writers/editors know so well that it often (I think) doesn't occur to them to tell novices asking for advice.

You rock.

Emme said...

And a question: when submitting a story via e-mail attachment, is it helpful to include one's pseudonym in the document title (e.g., "Winters Subdom"), rather than just the story title ("Subdom")?
Or is that just confusing?

M.Christian said...

THANKS SO MUCH, SWEETIE -- it really does mean a lot to me that you like the book and the articles!

As for the pseudonym thing -- I would just have the story title and then put your real name and byline below in the title in the file itself.