I’m going to share a secret with you. There is a way to convince editors to read your story. A secret handshake, if you will, that tells them you’re one of the few, a writer whose work merits their focused attention. You’ve always suspected this, I’m sure.
Well, here it is. Follow these simple steps, and your work will sail into the top 10% of stories on the editorial desk, above the rest of the slush pile:
- Use standard manuscript formatting.
- Check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
- Send your story with a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
That’s it. That’s the secret. Any tricks or gimmicks meant to attract the attention of the editor merely distract from the story. The purpose of a manuscript is to be the medium by which your story is delivered. It best accomplishes this by getting — and staying — out of the way.
William Shunn has an excellent guide to proper manuscript formatting, available here. Learning it will show editors you care enough to use the format that’s easiest on their tired eyes and lets them dive right into your story.
Learn it. Live it. Love it.