Sunday, 14 September 2008

#14. Don’t send attachments with pitches

Or why Word is out.

In my previous tip, I sang the praises of sending articles on spec when trying to crack a new publication. However, when sending that article, don’t make the mistake of sending it as an attachment.
Many of us will use Microsoft Word as a matter of course when writing, and it would seem logical to send a completed article as a Word document. I’ll give you three reasons why you shouldn’t.

#1 – Not everyone uses Word.
In practice, most publications will have Word on their computers because they know they will get sent Word documents from time to time. But it will be used surprisingly rarely. The big papers have their own software, others will work with Quark Xpress and Adobe Indesign when laying out pages.
While Word isn’t necessarily incompatible with these programs, it can throw up some oddities that are annoying and time consuming to get rid of.

#2 – Firewalls and internet security
In these days of appeals for money from Burkina Faso, malware and endless spam about Viagra, internet security at publishing companies has to be reasonably tight.
Filters and firewalls are set up to stop nasties getting into the system. And often that this means that an e-mail with an attachment sent from an unrecognised source can end up in the junk folder. Yes, that means your masterpiece that you sent on the word document.

#3 – Making it easy for editors
The third reason is relatively simple. Making the editor open an attachment gives them an extra thing to do, and thus they’re less likely to read your story.
If it’s pasted into the body of your e-mail, below the pitch or your signature, then they can just scroll down and take a look.
They’ll probably only skim read the first paragraphs, but that’s two more paragraphs than you might get if sent as an attachment.

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