When you send off a piece of work, whether it’s a query, a finished article or a short story; and whether it’s being sent by email or good old fashioned post, presenting it in the best possible way will at least go some way to keeping you in the game and can make your work more saleable.
Just as you would prepare for an interview by dressing in smart, clean clothes, washing your face, combing your hair and polishing your shoes, so you should apply the same effort to any piece of work that you send out into the hands of an editor.
Even though most work these days is sent by email, many of the same principles apply as they did when everything was sent by post.
Make sure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes by checking your work twice. Don’t rely solely on the spell-checker, as this can lead to some horrendous gaffes.
Stick to a conventional typeface such as Times Roman or Arial in either 11 or 12 font size. You may think Comic Sans in a font size of 14 looks cool, but the editor of a busy magazine won’t be impressed.
For emails, always give them a subject line as this will be the first thing the editor sees and could well be the difference between them opening the mail and reading on or going to the next mail in their inbox. It’s worth spending time creating a great subject heading that will attract the editor’s attention.
Queries should be typed in the main body of the email as many editors will not automatically open an attachment unless they are expecting one, which usually means you have had some previous correspondence with them and have been invited to send work attached.
Double spacing and extra wide margins are not needed unless you are sending the completed article or story by post, or the editor has specifically requested this type of layout. Some publications do still like work to be submitted this way, with a heading of author name, shortened title and page number at the top of every page. If you are sending work through the post, invest in a good quality paper and envelopes. A4 size is good so that the paper does not have to be folded.
With both email and post, don’t forget to include your contact details of name, address and telephone numbers, either when signing off an email or in the covering letter if sending by post.