More thoughts continuing from Wednesday's post. One of the most aggravating things is page numbering. Every program for word processing I've ever seen has a page numbering feature. They will efficiently number your pages and put the numbers anywhere you want--top, bottom, right side, left, side. Yet at least half of the submissions I see have some weird ass effort at inserting a header or footer into the page. This creates a clunky look and is often embedded into the file and a bear to remove or change. And these headers often aren't set up right and number the pages incorrectly. At the very least, they tend to take up three or four lines where, had one simply told Word to number them, they'd only take up one line.
I haven't mentioned content. So far I'm just talking about the files that come in. And my biggest peeve of all is the growing trend of files that have no contact info whatsoever. How do you expect someone to send you a contract if there's no contact info on the manuscript? . I'm not giving that out you say? Really? Would you apply for a job and leave the contact part of an application blank? This isn't that different.
And I still have not mentioned content. I'm still just talking about housekeeping things. There is such a thing as a basic manuscript format. a lot of contributors don't seem to know what that is--or they don't care. Why should i do it that way? Well, because that's the way it's done. A manuscript formatting is covered in plenty of books in every library in the country, so I won't belabor the concept here any further. Refusing to send in something that at least resembles it is something you do at your own peril.
Then we come to content. That's harder to talk about. If something is poorly done, it's poorly done. If it's not well edited, it's not well edited. If it's the same story about vampires hiding in the trunks of cars that I've seen a dozen times before, well it's rejected. This is where writing skill comes in. Some folks have it and some folks don't. And I cannot, in a guidelines sheet, do much about that. What I'm saying, and I really mean this, is not tending to the basics, not sending in a good well prepared manuscript is more likely to cost you than you might think--even more than a weak story. At least that's how I view things.