PREPARING AND SELLING THE MANUSCRIPT
From: How To Write Special Feature Articles
(Category: PART I
IMPORTANCE OF GOOD MANUSCRIPT. After an article has been carefully
revised, it is ready to be copied in the form in which it will be
submitted to editors. Because hundreds of contributions are examined
every day in editorial offices of large publications, manuscripts should
be submitted in such form that their merits can be ascertained as easily
and as quickly as possible. A neatly and carefully prepared manuscript
is likely to receive more favorable consideration than a badly typed
one. The impression produced by the external appearance of a manuscript
as it comes to an editor's table is comparable to that made by the
personal appearance of an applicant for a position as he enters an
office seeking employment. In copying his article, therefore, a writer
should keep in mind the impression that it will make in the editorial
FORM FOR MANUSCRIPTS. Editors expect all manuscripts to be submitted in
typewritten form. Every person who aspires to write for publication
should learn to use a typewriter. Until he has learned to type his work
accurately, he must have a good typist copy it for him.
A good typewriter with clean type and a fresh, black, non-copying ribbon
produces the best results. The following elementary directions apply to
the preparation of all manuscripts: (1) write on only one side of the
paper; (2) allow a margin of about three quarters of an inch on all
sides of the page; (3) double space the lines in order to leave room for
changes, sub-heads, and other editing.
Unruled white bond paper of good quality in standard letter size, 8½
by 11 inches, is the most satisfactory. A high grade of paper not only
gives the manuscript a good appearance but stands more handling and
saves the recopying of returned manuscripts. A carbon copy should be
made of every manuscript so that, if the original copy goes astray in
the mail or in an editorial office, the writer's work will not have been
in vain. The carbon copy can also be used later for comparison with the
printed article. Such a comparison will show the writer the amount and
character of the editing that was deemed necessary to adapt the material
to the publication in which it appears.
A cover sheet of the same paper is a convenient device. It not only
gives the editorial reader some information in regard to the article,
but it protects the manuscript itself. Frequently, for purposes of
record, manuscripts are stamped or marked in editorial offices, but if a
cover page is attached, the manuscript itself is not defaced. When an
article is returned, the writer needs to recopy only the cover page
before starting the manuscript on its next journey. The form for such a
cover page is given on page 184.
The upper half of the first page of the manuscript should be left blank,
so that the editor may write a new title and sub-title if he is not
satisfied with those supplied by the author. The title, the sub-title,
and the author's name should be repeated at the beginning of the article
in the middle of the first page, even though they have been given on the
cover page. At the left-hand side, close to the top of each page after
the first, should be placed the writer's last name followed by a dash
and the title of the article, thus:
Milton--Confessions of a Freshman.
The pages should be numbered in the upper right-hand corner. By these
simple means the danger of losing a page in the editorial offices is
reduced to a minimum.
To be paid for at usual Written for The Outlook
rates, or to be returned
with the ten (10) cents
in stamps enclosed, to
Arthur W. Milton,
582 Wilson Street,
Des Moines, Iowa.
CONFESSIONS OF A FRESHMAN
Why I Was Dropped From College at the End of My
By Arthur W. Milton
(Note. This article is based on the writer's own experience in a
large Middle Western state university, and the statistics have been
obtained from the registrars of four state universities. It contains
Four (4) Photographs are Enclosed, as follows:
1. How I Decorated My Room
2. I Spent Hours Learning to Play My Ukelele
3. When I Made the Freshman Team
4. Cramming For My Final Exams
TYPOGRAPHICAL STYLE. Every newspaper and magazine has its own distinct
typographical style in capitalization, abbreviation, punctuation,
hyphenation, and the use of numerical figures. Some newspapers and
periodicals have a style book giving rules for the preparation and
editing of copy. A careful reading of several issues of a publication
will show a writer the salient features of its typographical style. It
is less important, however, to conform to the typographical
peculiarities of any one publication than it is to follow consistently
the commonly accepted rules of capitalization, punctuation,
abbreviation, and "unreformed" spelling. Printers prefer to have each
page end with a complete sentence. At the close of the article it is
well to put the end mark ().
When a special feature story for newspaper publication must be prepared
so hastily that there is no time to copy the first draft, it may be
desirable to revise the manuscript by using the marks commonly employed
in editing copy. These are as follows:
american Three short lines under a letter or a
= word indicate that it is to be set in
- capital letters; thus, American.
New York Times Two short lines under a letter or a
= = = word indicate that it is to be set in
- - - small capital letters; thus, NEW
sine qua non One line under a word or words indicates
---- --- --- that it is to be set in italics;
thus, _sine qua non_.
He is a /Sophomore An oblique line drawn from right to
left through a capital letter indicates
that it is to be set in lower
case; thus, He is a sophomore.
There are 10 in a bu. A circle around numerical figures or
---- ----- abbreviations indicates that they
are to be spelled out; thus, There
are ten in a bushel.
Professor A.B.Smith is sixty. A circle around words or figures
----------- ------- spelled out indicates that they are
to be abbreviated or that numerical
figures are to be used; thus,
Prof. A.B. Smith is 60.
It is complimentry to him A caret is placed at the point in the
^ ^ line where the letters or words written
above the line are to be inserted;
thus, It is not complimentary
to carefullyXstudy A line encircling two or more words
---------- ------ like an elongated figure "8" indicates
that the words are to be transposed;
thus, to study carefully.
to[=()]morrow Half circles connecting words or
letters indicate that they are to be
brought together; thus, tomorrow.
all/right A vertical line between parts of a
word shows that the parts are to be
separated; thus, all right.
U S 4 per cent. bonds A small cross or a period in a circle
x x may be used to show that a period
is to be used; thus, U.S. 4 per cent.
")Yes, ')Love laughs at lock- Quotation marks are often enclosed
smiths(', you know(", he replied. in half circles to indicate
whether they are beginning or end
¶"How old are you?" he asked. The paragraph mark (¶) or the
_"Sixteen", she said. sign [_] may be used to call attention
to the beginning of a new paragraph.
MAILING MANUSCRIPTS. Since manuscripts are written matter, they must be
sent sealed as first-class mail at letter rates of postage. For the
return of rejected articles stamps may be attached to the cover page by
means of a clip, or a self-addressed envelope with stamps affixed may be
enclosed. The writer's name and address should always be given on the
envelope in which the manuscript is sent to the publishers.
The envelope containing the article should be addressed to the "Editor"
of a magazine or to the "Sunday Editor" of a newspaper, as nothing is
gained by addressing him or her by name. If a writer knows an editor
personally or has had correspondence with him in regard to a particular
article, it may be desirable to send the manuscript to him personally.
An accompanying letter is not necessary, for the cover page of the
manuscript gives the editor and his assistants all the information that
Articles consisting of only a few pages may be folded twice and mailed
in a long envelope; bulkier manuscripts should be folded once and sent
in a manila manuscript envelope. Photographs of sizes up to 5 x 7 inches
may be placed in a manuscript that is folded once, with a single piece
of stout cardboard for protection. When larger photographs, up to 8 x 10
inches, accompany the article, the manuscript must be sent unfolded,
with two pieces of cardboard to protect the pictures. Manuscripts should
never be rolled.
HOW MANUSCRIPTS ARE HANDLED. In order to handle hundreds of manuscripts
as expeditiously as possible, most large editorial offices have worked
out systems that, though differing slightly, are essentially the same.
When a manuscript is received, a record is made of it on a card or in a
book, with the name and address of the author, the title and character
of the contribution, and the time of its receipt. The same data are
entered on a blank that is attached to the manuscript by a clip. On this
blank are left spaces for comments by each of the editorial assistants
who read and pass upon the article.
After these records have been made, the manuscript is given to the first
editorial reader. He can determine by glancing at the first page or two
whether or not the article is worth further consideration. Of the
thousands of contributions of all kinds submitted, a considerable
proportion are not in the least adapted to the periodical to which they
have been sent. The first reader, accordingly, is scarcely more than a
skilled sorter who separates the possible from the impossible. All
manuscripts that are clearly unacceptable are turned over to a clerk to
be returned with a rejection slip.
When an article appears to have merit, the first reader looks over it a
second time and adds a brief comment, which he signs with his initials.
The manuscript is then read and commented on by other editorial readers
before it reaches the assistant editor. The best of the contributions
are submitted to the editor for a final decision. By such a system every
meritorious contribution is considered carefully by several critics
before it is finally accepted or rejected. Moreover, the editor and the
assistant editor have before them the comments of several readers with
which to compare their own impressions.
In newspaper offices manuscripts are usually sorted by the assistant
Sunday editor, or assistant magazine editor, and are finally accepted or
rejected by the Sunday or magazine editor.
REJECTED MANUSCRIPTS. In rejecting contributions, editorial offices
follow various methods. The commonest one is to send the author a
printed slip expressing regret that the manuscript is not acceptable and
encouraging him to submit something else. Some ingenious editors have
prepared a number of form letters to explain to contributors the various
reasons why their manuscripts are unacceptable. The editorial assistant
who rejects an unsuitable article indicates by number which of these
form letters is to be sent to the author. A few editors send a personal
letter to every contributor. Sometimes an editor in rejecting a
contribution will suggest some publication to which it might be
acceptable. If a manuscript has merit but is not entirely satisfactory,
he may suggest that it be revised and submitted to him again.
KEEPING A MANUSCRIPT RECORD. Every writer who intends to carry on his
work in a systematic manner should keep a manuscript record, to assist
him in marketing his articles to the best advantage. Either a book or a
card index may be used. The purpose of such a record is to show (1) the
length of time required by various publications to make a decision on
contributions; (2) the rate and the time of payment of each periodical;
(3) the present whereabouts of his manuscript and the periodicals to
which it has already been submitted.
It is important for a writer to know how soon he may expect a decision
on his contributions. If he has prepared an article that depends on
timeliness for its interest, he cannot afford to send it to an editor
who normally takes three or four weeks to make a decision. Another
publication to which his article is equally well adapted, he may find
from his manuscript record, accepts or rejects contributions within a
week or ten days. Naturally he will send his timely article to the
publication that makes the quickest decision. If that publication
rejects it, he will still have time enough to try it elsewhere. His
experience with different editors, as recorded in his manuscript record,
often assists him materially in placing his work to the best advantage.
The rate and the time of payment for contributions are also worth
recording. When an article is equally well suited to two or more
periodicals, a writer will naturally be inclined to send it first to the
publication that pays the highest price and that pays on acceptance.
A manuscript record also indicates where each one of a writer's articles
is at a given moment, and by what publications it has been rejected. For
such data he cannot afford to trust his memory.
A writer may purchase a manuscript record book or may prepare his own
book or card index. At the top of each page or card is placed the title
of the article, followed by the number of words that it contains, the
number of illustrations that accompany it, and the date on which it was
completed. On the lines under the title are written in turn the names of
the periodicals to which the manuscript is submitted, with (1) the dates
on which it was submitted and returned or rejected; (2) the rate and the
time of payment; and (3) any remarks that may prove helpful. A
convenient form for such a page or card is shown on the next page:
Confessions of a Freshman. 2,750 Words. 4 Photos. Written, Jan. 18, 1919.
Sent ReturnedAcceptedPaid AmountRemarks
The Outlook 1/18/19 1/30/19
The Independent 1/31/19 2/10/19
The Kansas City Star2/12/19 2/18/19 3/12/19 $9.50 $4 a col.
ACCEPTED MANUSCRIPTS. Contributions accepted for publication are paid
for at the time of their acceptance, at the time of their publication,
or at some fixed date in the month following their acceptance or
publication. Nearly all well-established periodicals pay for articles
when they are accepted. Some publications do not pay until the article
is printed, a method obviously less satisfactory to a writer than prompt
payment, since he may have to wait a year or more for his money.
Newspapers pay either on acceptance or before the tenth day of the month
following publication. The latter arrangement grows out of the practice
of paying correspondents between the first and the tenth of each month
for the work of the preceding month.
After a manuscript has been accepted, a writer usually has no further
responsibility concerning it. Some magazines submit galley proofs to the
author for correction and for any changes that he cares to make. It is
desirable to make as few alterations as possible to avoid the delay and
expense of resetting the type. Corrected proofs should be returned
Unless specific stipulations are made to the contrary by the author, an
article on being accepted by a periodical becomes its property and
cannot be republished without its consent. Usually an editor will grant
an author permission to reprint an article in book or pamphlet form. By
copyrighting each issue, as most magazines and some newspapers do, the
publishers establish fully their rights to an author's work.
SYNDICATING ARTICLES. By sending copies of his articles to a number of
newspapers for simultaneous publication, a writer of special feature
stories for newspapers may add to his earnings. This method is known as
syndicating. It is made possible by the fact that the circulation of
newspapers is largely local. Since, for example, Chicago papers are not
read in New York, or Minneapolis papers in St. Louis, these papers may
well publish the same articles on the same day. Organized newspaper
syndicates furnish many papers with reading matter of all kinds.
The same article must not, however, be sent to more than one magazine,
but a single subject may be used for two entirely different articles
intended for two magazines. If two articles are written on the same
subject, different pictures should be secured, so that it will not be
necessary to send copies of the same illustrations to two magazines.
Agricultural journals with a distinctly sectional circulation do not
object to using syndicated articles, provided that the journals to which
the article is sent do not circulate in the same territory.
If a writer desires to syndicate his work, he must conform to several
requirements. First, he must make as many good copies as he intends to
send out and must secure separate sets of photographs to accompany each
one. Second, he must indicate clearly on each copy the fact that he is
syndicating the article and that he is sending it to only one paper in a
city. A special feature story, for instance, sent to the _Kansas City
Star_ for publication in its Sunday edition, he would mark, "Exclusive
for Kansas City. Release for Publication, Sunday, January 19." Third, he
must send out the copies sufficiently far in advance of the release date
to enable all of the papers to arrange for the publication of the
article on that day. For papers with magazine sections that are made up
a week or more before the day of publication, articles should be in the
office of the editor at least two weeks before the release date. For
papers that make up their Sunday issues only a few days in advance,
articles need be submitted only a week before the publication day.
SELLING ARTICLES TO SYNDICATES. The syndicates that supply newspapers
with various kinds of material, including special feature stories, are
operated on the same principle that governs the syndicating of articles
by the writer himself. That is, they furnish their features to a number
of different papers for simultaneous publication. Since, however, they
sell the same material to many papers, they can afford to do so at a
comparatively low price and still make a fair profit. To protect their
literary property, they often copyright their features, and a line of
print announcing this fact is often the only indication in a newspaper
that the matter was furnished by a syndicate. Among the best-known
newspaper syndicates are the Newspaper Enterprise Association,
Cleveland, Ohio; the McClure Newspaper Syndicate, New York; and the
Newspaper Feature Service, New York. A number of large newspapers, like
the _New York Evening Post_, the _Philadelphia Ledger_, and the _New
York Tribune_, syndicate their popular features to papers in other
A writer may submit his special feature stories to one of the newspaper
syndicates just as he would send it to a newspaper or magazine. These
organizations usually pay well for acceptable manuscripts. It is not as
easy, however, to discover the needs and general policy of each
syndicate as it is those of papers and magazines, because frequently
there is no means of identifying their articles when they are printed in
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