There was a time, not that long ago actually, that I used to write for no one but myself. It was a carefree time of not having to worry about anything. I could rant, go off on tangents, and not worry one iota about formatting. So basically I could blog! :) And then one day I got this delusional idea that maybe I might try to get something I wrote published. There were no big flashing lights telling me that my present stream of writing was not going to get a first glance, let alone a second if I sent it in as is. It was obvious to me that I had to play by the rules if I wanted to be taken seriously. So I learned the proper way to format, I triple checked grammar, I spent a few dollars extra on shipping and nice paper and ink. When it was time to send it in, I didn't skimp. Sure I probably have goofed up now and then. It seems everyone wants to receive something just a little different. I try to please all, but hey I'm only human (or so I have been told, I did get bit by that monkey....hmmm maybe I am turning primate!) But really, I try to be as professional as possible.
The point of this all is my "daily kick in the pants". This is an e-mail I get regularly from super cool author David Farland (ie Wolverton in the sci-fi world). It is a fun little piece of information with tips on how to improve my writing and make it the best I possibly can. So when I got today's e-mail on being professional first I laughed at what I read, and then I thought--seriously people? Here is my favorite sample.
1) Does my manuscript stink? I'm not talking metaphorically here, I'm talking about "Does it smell bad?" I've had manuscripts come to me that were yellow with cat pee on them. I've gotten manuscripts that smelled so heavily of tobacco that you didn't want to get within ten feet of them. I've had manuscripts that smelled of marijuana. I got one once that smelled strongly of coffee--it was badly stained. I've never bought a manuscript that smelled badly.
I can understand not knowing which corner to put your name in, but cat pee? I triple check my pages to make sure the edges don't even have wrinkles. Maybe I am a little obsessive, but I can guarantee my lunch won't be all over it! Does that mean I'll get published? Who knows, but I can promise you this, I will never send out a piece of work that STINKS!