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The Art of Story Writing : CHAPTER XXI How to Send a Manuscript

by Nathaniel C. Fowler, JR   

CHAPTER XXI How to Send a Manuscript

MANUSCRIPTS for short articles, and of only a few pages, may be folded twice and placed in envelopes. When they consist of more than a dozen pages, they should not be folded, but delivered flat.

It is well to place a piece of heavy cardboard, of the size of the manuscript page, at the top and bottom of the manuscript.

Another good way is to place the manuscript in a box, which may be a little larger in length, width, or depth. If too deep, place sheets of pasteboard on top of the manuscript to take up the surplus space. If the box is a little too long, or too wide, slips of pasteboard will fill up the space, or sheets of folded paper may be inserted. Place at least two wrappers on either the package or the box. The outer wrapper should be of strong Manilla or brown paper. Then tie it securely with strong string. If you use ordinary twine, wind it around the package at least four times, and look out for "granny" knots.

As letter postage must be paid on manuscripts, and the express companies make no extra charge for sealed matter, it would be well to seal the manuscript securely, either with sealing wax or paper seals, or the wrapper may be pasted together. If sent by mail, it is well to emphasize the sealing, so that the post-office clerks will not consider it merchandise or printed matter.

Write, or better, print, your name in the upper left-hand corner, preceded with the word "From." Write the address of the editor or publisher in the lower right-hand corner space, and precede it with "To." Place the postage stamps. in the upper right-hand corner. In the lower left-hand space, print very prominently, in large letters, either "Manuscript," or "First-class matter."

If you enclose a letter with the manuscript, below the words "Manuscript " or "First-class matter " write or print " Letter enclosed." The foregoing is illustrated by the following diagram, the rules representing the string.

If sent by express, prepay the express, and write or print "Express Prepaid," in lower left-hand corner.

Manuscripts sent by express should be addressed in the same way.

Manuscripts sent to a distance will go more cheaply by mail, if there are comparatively few pages. It will be well, however, for you to have your manuscript weighed, either at the post

office or on some store scales, unless you have scales of your own. The postage rate is two cents per ounce or fraction of an ounce. If it weighs a pound or more, the express is likely to be lower. If you send it by express, be sure to obtain a receipt. Express companies make an additional charge if the value exceeds forty-nine or fifty dollars. Therefore, if it would cost you as much as forty-nine or fifty dollars to copy the manuscript, have one of these figures written into the receipt. There is no additional express charge for value under forty-nine or fifty dollars.

Manuscripts may be sent by registered mail at a cost of ten cents above regular postage.

Always retain a copy of the manuscript if it is of much importance; for the editor or publisher does not guarantee manuscripts against loss. They are sent and held at the author's risk. While there is very little danger of a manuscript being lost, I would advise that a copy be made in every case, unless the manuscript is very short and of no particular value.

Manuscripts sent to book publishers should be addressed as follows:

 To the Editorial  Department,  Sully and Kleinteich,  373 Fourth Avenue,  New York City. 

If the manuscript is sent to the editor of a paper, magazine, or other periodical, address it either to the Editor, to the Editorial Department, or to some editor in particular, as the Literary Editor, or the Story Editor. Unless you know the full name of the editor, or the head of the editorial department, do not address the manuscript to an individual name, and it is generally advisable not to do so anyway. If you do, write on the package a line somewhat as follows: "To be opened if Mr. John T. Smith is away."

Manuscript should always be prepaid. It is advisable to enclose a letter with a manuscript, unless there are but a few pages of it, directed to the Editor or to the Editorial Department, the letter to contain the salient points or facts. If it is a true story, drawn from life, with living characters, it is well to mention it in the letter; and you might add a clause to the effect that, although all, or most, of the characters are living, their names and locations have been carefully disguised. It is well to give a short synopsis of a long story, outlining very briefly the plot or action.

If the scene of the story is laid, say, in some western mining camp, or on the ocean, mention it in the letter.

The first page of a manuscript should contain the title and the name and address of the writer, and, besides, a line reading somewhat as follows: "If unavailable, please return by express," or " Stamps enclosed for return." Write, in the upper left-hand corner, approximately the number of words, as "About 60,000 words." When an unavailable manuscript is returned by) a publisher, run over it carefully, and remove any marks which the editor or reader may have made. It is possible that a printed slip of rejection came with it. Be sure to remove this slip before sending it to another publisher.