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The Power of Presentation
by Shaunna Privratsky

The debate rages on, to send submissions via e-mail or the traditional paper and postage way, otherwise known as snail mail. For the most part, editors have moved into the 21st Century and accept or even encourage e-mail submissions. However, there are still some holdouts who prefer or demand postal mail.

The key for every writer is to determine from the guidelines the proper format to send your precious manuscript. Send it incorrectly and you can count on a quick Delete or a fast trip to FILE 60.

When I first became a writer, I had very limited access to computers. All of my submissions were through the postal service. I spent a small fortune on paper, ink, envelopes, paperclips, mailing labels and of course, postage.

The clerks at our local Post Office came to know me by name. I had an annoying habit of requesting IRC's. [International Reply Coupons] For some reason, the Fargo, North Dakota Post Office was flummoxed by such an "unusual request." In ten years I was only the second person to ask for IRC's.

The postal service earned its nickname "snail mail" for a reason. After I mailed something I would wait. And wait, and wait some more. Sometimes I'd wait forever and never receive a reply, even though I faithfully enclosed return postage and a SASE.

Nowadays, I craft a query or send a submission with the click of the Send key. Sometimes the reply is within minutes, or the following day. Regardless, the response time is remarkably faster.

I rarely send anything by mail anymore. I've saved quite a bit on postage, but also on all the paper and supplies. Ink tanks alone were costing me about $30-$40 a month. Now one $10 tank lasts me 3-4 months. Think of the resources that are saved by using e-mail! No more sacrificed trees or overflowing landfills.

Why are some editors reluctant to accept e-mail submissions? It could be because many writers don't format their work properly. Their submissions come through full of weird symbols and strange spacing, or complete gibberish.

Just like the traditional postal mail, you should carefully follow the submission guidelines when sending by e-mail. If they only want RTF [Rich Text Format] send it that way. If only MS Word will do, comply or be Deleted. The guidelines are set for a reason, not to make your life more miserable.

You have a unique opportunity with e-mail submissions: the subject line. Some markets require a strict adherence to a set subject line. Writing for Dollars wants the subject line to WFD, submission, or article to ensure your submission makes it through the filters.

Please don't be cutesy or mysterious. Your e-mail will end up in the TRASH file or will be filtered out before an editor even sees it. There is so much unsolicited sp*m out there that you don't want to be mistaken for an enlargement ad. Use your eye-catching title or key words from your article or story. For example: Story submission: Boy, cat, ice.

The subject line is your chance to pique the editor's interest, to get him or her to open your e-mail and reach your submission, which is all we can ask. Get your literary foot in the door, then wow everyone with your scintillating submission.

For any submission, stick to the standard, professional letter form. Even though e-mail is easier and quicker, a casual "Hiya, editor" will not go down too smoothly. Be courteous and include all contact information in both e-mail and postal correspondence.

It is up to every writer to decide if you'll go snail mail or e-mail. You will find the right combination that works for your flourishing freelance career. Whatever you decide, get out there and start submitting!

© Copyright 2004, Shaunna Privratsky

Shaunna Privratsky writes fulltime from North Dakota, in between shoveling snow. Please visit The Writer Within at http://shaunna67.tripod.com. We are looking for new writers and we are a paying market.

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