From my few short years student-working at the illustrious Southern Review, I learned one thing above all others: What a submission looks like.
I was the evil clerk who put the "Better Luck Elsewhere" slip into the SASE to mail back to the writers. I didn't have the Sophie's Choice position of choosing which ones got the slip (I do now at LeaningHousePress), but I still felt that weight.
It did not discourage me from continuing on my path to be a writer, but it did equip me with some useful knowledge - for instance, what the first line of an unpublishable story sounds like. More to the point of today's entry, it taught me the standards of submitting work.
Here are the materials you will need:
-Manuscript (we'll get into these specifics in a later entry)
-Two standard (#9) envelopes
Place the cover letter on top of the manuscript. Place one envelope at the back of the manuscript. This envelope should have your name and address in the "to" section, and the name and address of the journal your submitting to in the "from" section (upper left corner). This is called a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope. Don't forget to put a stamp in the upper right corner. Paper clip these all together and fold the bundle into thirds.
Now address the next envelope to the journal you're looking to submit to, and fill it out accordingly.
It's been my experience that all of this can be mailed with one stamp if you have a five page or less manuscript, but after that you should consider having a post office worker weigh it.
That's all for now! Good luck in the cut throat world of publishing!!