So Much Stuff I Can't Recall

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Cheaper (and Faster) Than Postage

You've seen them in the back of magazines. The Secrets of Mind Control. 26 Recipes for Turnips. Make Money While You Barcalounge. All Free! (with SASE). So you send away and in six to eight weeks you get either a hastily photocopied pamphlet (with offer for actually helpful info at a "nominal" fee) or you discover an easy way to get free postage because you've gotten nothing for your trouble and suspect the scam artist you mailed-away to has steamed your stamp off the SASE.

So for two 39-cent stamps, plus the cost of envelopes, you've gotten bupkis. Might as well have flushed 80 cents down the toilet, except maybe the quarters would weigh too much and they'd stay in the bowl and then you'd be tempted to reach in and retrieve them and eeeeewww...

Anyhoo, what if the ad at the back of the magazine said: 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof [Manuscript] Submission. No postage. No envelopes. No month and a half, two month wait. Nothing photocopied onto periwinkle- or goldenrod-colored paper. And it's cheaper than the "free" way, which runs you 80-plus cents in materials.

If you're at all interested in the 18 Keys (not actual keys, more of a metaphoric thing), check out this offer on Terry Whalin's blog. Terry is an author and acquisitions editor, so he's not just floating theories. He knows what works -- and what doesn't. And it's priced at 49 cents.

I picked up the Amazon Short and am pleased with it. Most of the NO-NOs are not all that different from what you'll find in a good manuscript preparation book, but it's nice to hear it straight from the horse's mouth. (Terry Whalin is not a horse; again, metaphor. Work with me here, people.) Don't misspell the editor's name. Don't nag and/or stalk the editor. There are nine other DON'Ts, so you shouldn't feel like you've just gotten everything there is to be had. The half-dozen MUST DOs are things that will set your manuscript proposal apart from the herd. (Metaphor! Writing your proposal on the side of cattle or antelope is not recommended except in certain agrarian communities when proposing marriage, but that's another thing altogether.) Some of these tips have appeared as individual entries on Terry's blog, but having them collected in one place makes future referencing easier than searching for the right post in Terry's archives.

So for cheaper than "free" you get straight talk from the editor (also the title of Terry's short). In three formats (PDF, HTML, and Amazon will e-mail the text to you, too). Now (or soon thereafter depending on the speed of your modem). Feel free to print it out on mint green paper if you want, then fold, spindle, and mutilate for that back-of-the-magazine feel.

Side note: something similar to one of the examples Terry shares about slow response times just happened to author Tony Hines. Read his Nov. 21 post (direct link not working, scroll to 11/21 if it's no longer at the top).

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