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3.Is my submission method correct?
A publication's writer's guidelines will often tell you how editor likes to receive submissions. Do they prefer to receive a query or a finished article? Do they want submissions sent through post or electronically by email? If sending an article by email, does editor prefer attachments such as Microsoft Word or do they request article to be sent as regular text within body of your email. With proliferation of computer viruses, many editors now refuse to open attachments that may be carrying dangerous macros or code. If you really want your proposal to execute a rapid depth test on editor's trashcan, simply ignore this checklist item.
4.Does my opening catch reader's attention?
If editor only reads first two or three sentences of your query, will you have captured their interest? The first paragraph must be a winner. Intriguing. Enticing. Like a fat, juicy worm wiggling on end of a fishing line. Read your opening again. Can you improve it?
5.Can I cut any unnecessary or redundant words?
Many of us include unnecessary or redundant words when we first draft a piece. The makers of some editing software I know of claim that their software typically removes 25 to 30 percent of unnecessary and redundant words from users' documents. That's significant. Cast a critical eye over your work again. If words add value to piece, leave them. If you have waffled it may be worthwhile to take a black marker pen and start striking out any unnecessary phrases. Think crisp, think concise.
6.Have I checked my grammar?
It can be frustrating for an editor to read what would otherwise be a good article but for fact it is riddled with bad grammar. Some writers wonder why editors haven't taken them seriously, but they haven't even taken time to proofread their own manuscript before submitting it! Some good word processing software programs will even check your grammar for you.
7.Have I checked spelling?
Again your software can probably do this for you. If you are writing for a publication in another country have you also taken into account any different spelling for that location, e.g. British vs. American English? Also try to spot any words that may be different from country to country, for example footpaths and sidewalks, diapers and nappies.
8.Have I included some details about my background?
This may not be necessary if editor already knows you. Otherwise be sure to include a brief biography and list any relevant credentials, clips, or links to your articles online.
9.Have I included article's publishing history?
Remember last time you had to clear customs at airport? This is just like that. 'Do you have anything to declare?' If article has been published elsewhere, you do.
10.Have I included my contact details?
If you want a reply from editor, and hopefully one day to receive a check in post, be certain to provide your full contact details. Many writers making submissions by email forget to include any other contact details.
It's been a long day. The editor, red-eyed and wired on caffeine, is ready to go home. Incredibly, trashcan is nearly full now. A few crumpled manuscripts lie scattered nearby where they didn't quite hit mark. 'One more', editor thinks, 'then I'll hit road.' Finally your submission is opened, and editor, for what seems like hundredth time today, wonders what this new writer has to offer.
Where will your submission end up? Have you helped yourself by sending in a well-prepared submission? If you have followed advice given here, you're well on your way. Now let's hope your idea was a good one.
Gary McLaren is the editor of Worldwide Freelance Writer web site and newsletter, a leading source of information on writing markets around the world. Discover some of the best publications to write for today, at http://www.worldwidefreelance.com . A free monthly newsletter is available by sending a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org .