May 31st, 2008


Exceptional Guidelines

The one thing about standards is that (a) almost everybody uses them, (b) said standards are not always specified or implemented consistently and (c) not everybody uses them. Which brings me to:

Standard Manuscript Format

Submitting one's writing in Standard Manuscript Format is a tremendous advantage. It means consistency in printing, page and word counts, readability. I know from reading hundreds of papers from my students, that if one doesn't have to think about the formatting, then you can concentrate on what's written. And that non-standard papers usually have more flaws than just not following the assignment's formatting guidelines. (grin)

Of course, the standard does vary. The one I use is Letter-sized, 1" margins all around, double-spaced, Courier 12-point, contact information single-spaced in upper left of page 1, word and page count on upper right of page 1, and Author / Title / Page# of Total# in upper right margin of all subsequent pages, with three asterisks *** centered on their own line signifying scene breaks. To some European markets I will reformat and print with A4 paper. And some markets prefer Times Roman instead of Courier, etc. Some want one pound symbol # for scene breaks, etc.

Fine, I understand that. And it's my job to recheck the guidelines before sending to make sure my manuscript is in the format they want.

New Guidelines

Today I happened to run across a new market, Darwin's Evolutions, twice in one day. That was sufficient for me to look them up and see what they had to say for themselves. When I got to the Guidelines, they had a link to their own Manuscript Formatting 101. Now before I go off on a mild rant, let me first say absolutely that every market has the right to request that submissions be made in whatever manner they want them to arrive. But...

... calling something Manuscript Formatting 101 sure makes me think that this is not just this market's recommendation but The Formatting.

The following rules comprise a generic professional guideline to formatting a manuscript for electronic submission. Individual publications may vary depending on how they plan on processing received submissions or by editor tastes. However, manuscripts formatted according to the below listed rules will always present professionally.

While this will look neat, to some extent, I know a lot of other editors who would right away dispute that their recommendation will "always present professionally", because their use of Times New Roman is problematic as a proportional font. Courier isn't just a throwback to the days of typewriters -- as a non-proportional font it can make editing and proofreading a lot easier, as well as size determinations. Rules 2, 4, 6, 7 and 8 would all require tweaking of my Standard Manuscript Format.

Maybe I'm Overreacting

Probably am. Maybe they're just giving out a suggested formatting for people not used to doing this. Fine, I can understand that. And for e-submissions, it certainly is pretty easy for people on both sides of the submission to change type fonts on the fly. But forgive me if my kneejerk reaction is to feel a little bit irked about coming up with such not-quite-standard-in-my-book specificity for a publication which isn't appearing to pay anything at the moment. The second non-paying new market I've across this week, which includes talk about paying "someday", rather than just making even a token payment to their authors from the start.

NOTE 6-1-2008: Yup. Cranky + Overreacting = Missed Something. Check this thread in the comments for new information.

Guess I probably won't be sending anything their way just yet.

Okay, and they have pretty cool looking cover art and Issue #1 is out this very day!

Never mind.

Dr. Phil
  • Current Mood
    cranky cranky


Another Fire

It happened again earlier this week. Despite a heavier than usual snowfall and long periods of rain early on, we had one day of Red Flag warnings and then got one wildfire near Muskegon, I believe it was. Then it rained and it was over. Again.

No, I Said R-A-I-N

It rained in the night on Thursday and we woke up on Friday for more rain. By the time I was heading down the driveway, the gravel had been soaking for hours and the low spot puddle was bigger than usual.

But by the time I into Allendale it was pouring. I decided not to stop and get out to grab a Coke and instead went through the McDonald's Drive-Thru. What genius decided that putting an overhang over the Drive-Thru windows was sufficient without any gutters? I mean, the rain coming down in torrents meant that water pouring off the roof came off the overhang and onto the center of my roof. And so despite being under the overhang, opening the window mean sheets of water poured on me. Inside the vehicle. Dumb.

So much rain in so little time... I flipped on the four-wheel-drive to stabilize on the waterlogged highway. For a while I thought seriously about pulling over and letting the rain get it over its system. WOOD-AM radio mentioned it was just "drizzling" in Grand Rapids, but noted that in Ottawa County the weather radar was showing a big patch of red rapidly moving in. That would've been my little storm.

Of course, by the time I got by Meijer's, where I could've pulled over and stopped in their parking lot, it got better. So on I drove.


Last night the rains had long stopped but the air was thick and humid. By the morning it was still gray and very windy. Should've been pleasant and we got plenty of sleep... except we were both tired during the day and by the time we had sunshine and blue skies, it was serious nap time. (grin)

Not the most productive of days. And as I write this, AMC is showing Troy, not the greatest of movies. But what the hell, it's "free" on TV tonight.

Sign of the Times

This morning I drove into town to check the P.O. Box. On 68th Avenue I saw a very shiny and lovely two-tone tan Chevy Suburban for sale: $2100 or best offer. If you have an actual need for a large vehicle like a Suburban, this is the tie to buy one used. The resale values have collapsed given that people don't like the 13-17 mpg.

I'd buy another Suburban someday. Great vehicle.

Dr. Phil
  • Current Mood
    drained drained