Here's a snippet from my presentation on publishing short stories, delivered before the inaugural Jewish Fiction Writers' Conference at the 92nd Street Y last Sunday. The presentation was designed for fiction writers, but this segment happens to be relevant for essayists as well. More on the conference to follow here and at my other blog, My Machberet.
Top Ten Tips for Formatting/Preparing Short Story Manuscripts
1. Double-space your manuscript.
2. Print only on one side of the paper.
3. Use black type (no fancy colors).
4. Use a simple, conventional font (like Times New Roman 12-pt).
5. Number your pages, and unless you're told differently, include your name and/or the story title in the header.
6. Proofread. Reading the entire story aloud is an excellent strategy that helps writers "catch" mistakes computer spelling and grammar programs don't always find.
7. If the story is longer than a few pages (my limit is four, plus the cover letter), don't stuff it in a regular/business size envelope. Place it in a larger (in the United States, 9"X12") envelope.
8. Always include a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) for a response. (Here's where those "forever" stamps really come in handy.)
9. Keep a copy of your submission for your own records.
10. Keep a copy of your cover letter. You might consider establishing a separate binder to track your submission correspondence. Otherwise it becomes all too easy to forget which story went to which publication when. And if you've submitted simultaneously, you'll need to tell all the other journals you've sent a story to when it's accepted elsewhere.
Anyone want to offer other suggestions, in comments?