The Internet
First Steps
Preparing and Submitting – mainstream markets
Presenting your work



Writing is a very productive and deeply fulfilling activity. Deciding you want to become a writer usually means, not only that you have a desire to express your emotions and ideas, beliefs and experiences in words, but you would like to see these words in print; to be heard. To receive some recognition for the effort you put into your writing career by seeing it published.

Writing for publication is a fiercely competitive business and you must approach your work professionally and with a sharp focus on your intended market. You are selling a product and you need to prepare and market your work properly in order to give yourself the best possible chance of success.



The Internet


Every writer should have access to the internet these days. It is not only a valuable source of information, it will also help you contact publishers and agents but more importantly it will provide new markets for your work. Submissions to web sites on the internet are usually done by email. Every web site should have guidelines and submission procedures available on the site. Read them carefully and make sure you follow them to the letter. If you are reading these information pages you will already have hooked up to the internet and should be well on your way to discovering what the internet has to offer the writer.

However, it is important to maintain links with both the mainstream publishing industry and the internet.





Mainstream editors and publishers will not accept hand written manuscripts. These should be typed properly according to specific guidelines, or you can request specific guidelines from the editor or publisher you are targeting. The initial cost of starting up as a writer will be quite high if you do not already own the appropriate equipment. Listed below are some of the basic materials you must consider as essential:


  • A computer with access to the internet.
  • A word-processing facility and a letter quality printer.
  • Plain white A4 paper of a good quality.
  • Plain white business envelopes for letters.
  • A4 Manila envelopes for manuscripts.
  • Notebooks and pens for ideas.
  • A dictionary.
  • A concise encyclopaedia.
  • Roget’s Thesaurus.
  • The Writer’s Handbook.
  • The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook.
  • Subscription to a writing magazine. 



First Steps


When you have obtained some of the above, there are a few basic first steps that you can follow to increase your confidence in your own abilities;


  • Learn about writing – buy a self-help book.
  • Learn to type.
  • Join a writers group or circle.
  • Learn how to keep accurate records of your work.
  • Find out about copyright laws, plagiarism and libel. 



Preparing and Submitting – mainstream markets


You need to do some groundwork before submitting any manuscript and this will involve a certain amount of research in an attempt to find the correct market for your work. Research your market thoroughly and write with focused intent for that market. If you put the hard work into research before, rather than after, the event – it will save time, wasted effort, dejection and frustration. There is nothing more depressing than having your work rejected simply because you have not sent it to the right type of magazine or publishing house.

Study The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook and The Writer’s Handbook, and select publishers or magazines that seem suitable. Your writing is a product that you are hoping to sell. Therefore it would be pointless to send a romantic novel to a publisher that specialises in horror, or an article on fashion to a fishing magazine.


  • Make sure the publication or publishing house accept unsolicited submissions.
  • That the length of your piece is within their stated word limit.
  • That you always enclose a stamped addressed envelope for returns.
  • Write a letter to the publisher or editor asking for their guidelines.
  • You could even risk a phone call.
  • Study the market.
  • Buy a copy of the publication you are intending to target.
  • A preliminary letter of enquiry to the editor asking if he/she would be interested in a piece on your given topic, may help.
  • Find gaps in the market and write articles specifically targeted at that.
  • It is always better to write for a market, than to write a piece and then find somewhere to place it.





A novel must be accompanied by a synopsis. A synopsis is a marketing tool; it is the first sample of your writing that an editor will look at and therefore needs to be well written. Keep the synopsis to one side of an A4 sheet, single space the text, and include the title of the novel and your name at the top of the sheet. The synopsis needs to be concise yet entertaining. If you are in doubt as to the style you should adopt take a look at the blurb on the back of any fiction book and consider the elements incorporated in this small taster of what is on offer between the covers. It will tempt you to want to read more, it will excite your interest and it will not give away too many secrets. A synopsis should not simply set out exactly what is on offer from beginning to end in a rote fashion it should make for interesting reading, hinting at major details in a provocative manner.



Presenting your work


The next step is to ensure that you present your work professionally, following the standard typing layout for short stories, articles or books, as detailed below:


  • Use quality plain white A4 paper. Type on one side only.Double space between the lines of type.
  • Leave margins of an inch all round, a little more on the left.
  • Keep the layout of the pages unchanged throughout.
  • Do not justify the text.
  • Number the pages consecutively, but not the first page.
  • Inlcude a cover sheet, with your name and address and put these details on the last page also.

Finally, make sure that you:


  • Check your work for spelling mistakes, correct punctuation and grammar.
  • Change any awkward phrasing.
  • Make sure you are consistent.
  • Check any facts are accurate.
  • Check the word count and make sure it is within the stated limit required.
  • Always enclose an SAE with your manuscript.

Having done all this, it is now time to approach an editor. This needs be done politely and professionally.


  • Approach a publisher by letter, enclosing a synopsis and sample chapters.
  • Send short stories and articles in completed form.

The covering letter should be short and to the point, using the name of the editor if you can. Names of editors for particular imprints can be found in The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook; they can also be listed under the heading of editorial director. If you cannot find these out, address your letter to the ‘editorial department’ or ‘editorial submissions’, even ‘Editor’ will do.




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