Jan Bowman

Entry # 143 – “Sending Stories Out Into The World”

March 25, 2013 – Spring Snow – Photo – Jan Bowman

What do writers need to know about sending stories out into the publication world? There are no substitutes for talent, hard work and attention to the details of craft. Poorly written work is rarely selected in this day/age of stiff competition and advanced technology.  Writers can select appropriate journals for their work and increase the odds of publication. Then they must attend to basics of craft structure and manuscript preparation, and follow manuscript guidelines and deadlines.

Spring in Maryland – March 2013 – Photo: Jan Bowman

Most publications have moved to online submissions, but if the guidelines do require snail mail – as is often the case with contest entries – send by first class mail to an appropriate editor.  Send a self-addressed, stamped (forever stamp) envelope for a reply. Use white (8.5 x 11) good quality paper and typed, double-spaced text in 12-point standard font, like Times New Roman. Avoid weird fonts. Leave a one-inch margin on top, bottom and sides of the pages. Proof the work and get editing help. 

All of us need someone else to look for the glitches. Never send out work with typos or crossed out words. Most publications expect a standard layout for manuscripts. For example:  on the first page – top left corner – type your name, address, phone, email address. And in top right corner – identify that it’s a story or essay – and give the word count. Next – start the title in center of first page – about a third of the way down on the page; then, skip four lines down and begin the story or essay. Remember to double-space.  Indent each new paragraph.  And don’t be tempted to use an extra double space between paragraphs, unless you meant to suggest a change in time or place, because that extra space suggests a shift of some sort, in time, place, or point of view.

On the subsequent pages of the manuscript – at the top left side (usually), type the title, your last name and a page number.  For example:  Sending out Stories/Bowman/2.

Here are a couple of things to know if you wish to avoid future embarrassment. Don’t write – The End – on the last page. Don’t say this work is copyrighted and/or the property of (your name) or say how much money you want for your story or essay.  Please don’t tell them how great it is or summarize the story or essay.  Don’t send it by certified or any other weird mail. Just ordinary first class mail will work nicely.

Finally, don’t expect an immediate reply. Most publications won’t respond for months.  It is safe to say that most editors are looking for interesting, original work with good openings, sustained plot and characters who not only are believable, but who connect to readers. They want to read work that they themselves can’t stop reading.  That’s what they look for and hope for every time they rip open an envelope or open an online submission. That’s what you have to send out into the world, if you want to make the cut. 
“But – If You Believe in Spring & In Your Writing…”
About Jan Bowman 

Jan Bowman’s fiction has appeared in numerous publications including, Roanoke Review, Big Muddy, The Broadkill Review, Third Wednesday, Minimus, Buffalo Spree (97), Folio, The Potomac Review, Musings, Potato Eyes and others. Glimmer Train named a recent story as Honorable Mention in the November 2012 Short Story Awards for New Writers. Winner of the 2011 Roanoke Review Fiction Award, her stories have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, Best American Short Stories, a Pen/O’Henry award and a story was a finalist in the “So To Speak” Fiction Contest. She is working on two collections of short stories while shopping for a publisher for a completed story collection. She has nonfiction work pending publication in Trajectoryand Pen-in-Hand. She writes a weekly blog of “Reflections” on the writing life and posts regular interviews with writers and publishers.   Learn more at www.janbowmanwriter.com or

visit blog:  http://janbowmanwriter.blogspot.com