Enjoy an exclusive guest post from Ray Daley, author of “Detecting Rogue Time Travellers (Practical Exam),” featured in our upcoming anthology ON TIME.
By the time you reach the stage where you are mentally ready & confident enough to start submitting your work to markets, there are a few things you need to have done before you send it off.
STEP ONE – BASIC SPELLCHECK
Get your document loaded up in the word processing software of your choice. Run a bog-standard spellcheck just to make sure things are correct.
STEP TWO – BASIC GRAMMAR CHECK
Get yourself a free account on either Grammarly or Pro Writing Aid. Load your story onto whichever you decide to use, and run a basic standard grammar check. Be aware, which ever platform you use, they aren’t 100% infallible so ALWAYS check the suggestions you are being offered. most are correct, and make sense. Grammarly sucks major ass at contextual grammar so always double check its suggestions.
STEP THREE – AUDIO PROOF
Once you’ve saved your grammar checked document, now it’s time to have it read through. If your PC has a text to speech feature, use that. There’s a few decent text to speech websites online for free too. Have the program read your story back to you. It’ll read it exactly as you wrote it, mistakes and and all. If you’ve repeated words, or missed them out, this will pick that up. If you’ve not put pauses where they should be, this will help you insert commas for those.
There’s no harm in running this stage twice, once before your corrections, and again afterwards to hear that everything is as it should be. This should eliminate all your stupid mistakes.
STEP FOUR – FORMAT EDIT
For those who’ve never done this before, it might prove to be the toughest stage. It’ll take a while to get used to, but after a few runs through, it’ll become like second nature. Open your document, choose view and then select formatting marks. The objects you are looking to replace look like the arrow on your enter key. What you want to do is delete those and press enter for as many of those items as you’ve deleted. What you’ll see will look like an inverted lowercase b. That’s a line break. Those will format correct indents if your guidelines request them.
Learn how to format your story to standard manuscript format, also known as SMF. Learn how to adjust spacing to 1.5 or double line spacing. Learning how to indent your text is also useful. I find the easiest way to do this is to highlight the text I want to indent, go to the ruler across the top of the page and drag the top slider to the 1cm marker.
Some guides will want your personal details in the top left comer of the first page. Others won’t want your details on the document at all, and that includes the file name!
Once you’ve got your document the way your market guidelines want it, then save that. It’s now ready to go out for submission.
A trick of mine is to keep a folder where I archive a copy of everything currently out in submission. I also maintain a spreadsheet showing what I’ve subbed, where to, on what date and when I can query or when the call closes.
If you can start doing this with your own submissions, you’ll finding doing your admin becomes a lot faster and easier. Writing isn’t just about making stories up. You’ve got all these elements as well as finding markets too. To anyone interested within the SF/F fields, I’m running a month long submission event in May. Feel free to get in touch @RayDaleyWriter, and I’ll hook you up to our private Facebook group.
Ray Daley was born in Coventry & still lives there. He served 6 yrs in the RAF as a clerk & spent most of his time in a Hobbit hole in High Wycombe. He is a published poet & has been writing stories since he was 10. His current dream is to eventually finish the Hitch Hikers fanfic novel he’s been writing since 1986.
ON TIME is coming in Summer 2020. Be sure to follow us on Amazon.