Email Submission Guidelines

* * * VERY IMPORTANT * * *

Read ALL Instructions on this page before submitting your work via email.

The primary purpose of this page is to help those who wish to enter one of our contests via email prepare their files properly. Since we started accepting email submissions for our contests, we have noticed that authors use their writing programs differently and not always correctly and it creates issues on our end. Since the goal of using electronic submission is to make it easier for both the author and Main Street Rag, we have decided to create this page to save time for both us and writers.

If you do not understand these instructions or do not think you can follow them, then you are probably not a candidate for email submission and should enter the old-fashioned way: US Postal Service.

Basic Email Guidelines / Online Payment / File Preparation


Guidelines for emailing a contest submission.

Deadline

All deadlines are specific to individual contests and can be found on the individual contest pages.
Email submission deadline is slightly different since you can’t stick a check in an envelope to pay. We have one deadline for payment and another for submission because permission to send the manuscript is processed manually. That means someone must be in the office to send instructions.

***IMPORTANT*** Our office hours are 8am-4pm M-F (Eastern Time). No one is working in the office over the weekend. If you make a payment when we are NOT in the office, please be patient. Notifications are the first thing we do when we come back into the office the next business day.

Reading Fee

As stated above, this must be paid through our online processor (PayPal) before an author will be given permission to send the manuscript. Payment is NOT REFUNDABLE, so please be sure you are comfortable preparing the file before making a payment. We do not penalize those who do not follow the file formatting to the letter–that’s not the purpose of this information. The purpose is to help the author create a “clean” file so that when we print it out on our end, it matches the way it appears on the author’s computer. It’s only intent is to prevent poor file preparation from hurting an author’s chance to win. We don’t give style points, but good presentation helps the reader (judge) in a way that bad presentation will not.

***VERY IMPORTANT*** MSR will return a confirmation of receipt and permission to send contest entry via email. Do NOT send a manuscript until specifically told to do so in an email. Authors sometimes confuse a payment receipt (which is sent from PayPal) with permission to send a manuscript (which will be sent from Main Street Rag).

[Why is this important? Because we will not adjust a submitted file, we simply print it out for our readers. If the author did not set it up according to the File Preparation information below, things may shift when they arrive here. We do not disqualify those who do not follow the preparation instructions. They are simply a tool we offer authors because we have seen many manuscripts that were prepared improperly: text shifts, titles ended up in the middle of pages, the overall look is not how the author intended. It would have hurt the author’s chances of winning as a result, so we fixed them before printing. Now that more than half of our entries arrive via email, we do not have time to fix files. We only offer the file preparation instructions for authors’ benefit.]

The cost for emailed submission is $27 for Poetry Book Award.

Payment can be made online at: Online Payment
Payments are processed by PayPal. They take all major credit cards and even checks, but you will have to allow 5 business days to process checks and the checks must CLEAR by payment deadline.

Formatting:

Manuscript should be sent as a single PC formatted WORD or RTF (Rich Text Format) attachment that is PC compatible.
The file name should start with the author’s last name, underscore, then some form of the title of the manuscript. Example: Author_MyBookTitle
Use a common font throughout (including title), preferably Times New Roman, 12pt type, do NOT double space.

Email Subject Line:

“Submission for MSR Poetry Book Award” (or other contest).

Length:

MSR Poetry Book Award: 48-84 letter-size pages (8.5 X 11) of poetry.
Do not include the Title page, Table of Contents or any Notes, just pages
OF POETRY in your page count.

No more than 1 poem per page or more than 40 lines of poetry
per page.

(Clarification because it’s been asked: yes, you can include poems
that are longer than 40 lines; but they will fill more than one page and
must be counted on the basis of how many pages they fill.

Cover/title pages:

Top (first) page should be a title page WITH contact information.
Second page should be a title page WITHOUT contact information.

TOC/Page numbering:

A TOC (table of contents) is helpful, but not necessary, but page numbering is especially helpful when submitting by email. We have received hundreds of manuscripts at the last minute. Pagination helps us to separate where one begins and ends. If you decide to paginate, it should be done in the Footer, not on the page.

Author’s Name

SHOULD NOT APPEAR anywhere in the manuscript (aside from the top, title page).

Acknowledgements

DO NOT include them if you want to be eligible to win any MSR contest. They are not necessary for the judging process and may give away the author’s identity.

Notes

These are acceptable for clarification or translation purposes, but cannot make any reference to the author or author’s family name (members of family), the author’s work, any places of publication or contest results/placements.

Payment

As stated above, payment can be made online using PayPal (which accepts credit cards–so you don’t need to have a PayPal account to use the service).

PayPal is the most convenient way to make payments for online entry. Why? As is the case with most contests, people wait until the last minute to enter. We expect that will happen even more now that the online submission deadline has been adjusted to match the postmark deadline. PayPal processes the transactions immediately–no paperwork to be managed on this end, no extra time required by us to confirm the credit card number and create an invoice.

PayPal is safe, reliable and you DO NOT need to have a PayPal Account to use it. It is just a transaction processing center, no different than the card swiper at the check out aisle of your local grocery store. It merely processes the transaction and saves those on this end a ton of time. We appreciate your cooperation.

Please Note: Someone must be in the office to send permission to submit manuscript emails once payment has been received. Since we DO NOT work in the office on weekends, if you pay after 5pm Friday, you will probably not receive permission to send your manuscript and file preparation instructions until Monday. We appreciate you patience.

Online Payment for MSR Poetry Book Award

 

 

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File Preparation

Please note: some people get intimidated by this section because they are afraid that not adhering to the layout advice mentioned below might hinder their chances of winning our contest. This file preparation section is offered to authors who are uncomfortable with computers and file formatting. We often receive files that have titles in the middle of the page with the poems split between pages. It is distracting to the contest reader (judge) and can, as a result, reflect poorly on the entry. These instructions are meant to be helpful.

Common Problems:

Below is a list of a few of the more common issues we experience with emailed entries caused by the way authors use various formatting tools in WORD and other
such word processing programs.

1) Using the space key to go from the end of one poem on one page to the beginning of another poem on the next page.
2) The use of phrases like “New Stanza” or “No new stanza” or “Title of Poem, Page 2″ to indicate a continuation (or not).
3) Alignment. Oh, Oh, Oh–Words cannot express the amount of frustration created by writers trying to do fancy alignments.
4) Pagination on the page instead of in the footer.

Formatting

The goal of this section is to homogenize the formatting
and eliminate the problems some writers create for printers and set up
people. Immediately below is the short version for those who are skilled
in the use of Microsoft WORD and other similar word processing programs.
Further below is a step-by-step for those a little less comfortable with
computer programs. Please choose according to your level of expertise and
follow these directions when laying out a manuscript.

The Short Version

1) Create a Table of Contents (without page numbers–just an order of sequence for the poems). Save the file as “TOC” but also print it out and place it on the desk beside you. This is your road map.

2) Open a “NEW” WORD file. Save it in WORD or RTF (Rich Text Format) as: “YourLastName_BookTitle.rtf”

3) Type your name, mailing address, phone number and email address at the top of this page in 12pt type. Skip down a couple of spaces and type the title in 14pt–ALL CAPS and BOLD, then hit the “Return” or “Enter” key to go one line below the title.

4) Insert a “Page Break” in the line below your title.

5) At the top of the page you just created, type the title of the book again in 14pt BOLD, ALL CAPS. Then hit the “Return” or “Enter” key to go one line below the title and insert another “Page Break.”

6) Copy the text from your Table of Contents file (TOC) and paste it at the top of the new page that was created when you inserted a Page Break into your “YourLastName_BookTitle.rtf ” file.

7) Don’t worry if your TOC rolls onto additional pages. At the end of the TOC, insert another “Page Break.” NOW you are ready to start your book.

8) If you have a section divider page, place it on this page. If you want to do a series of returns to get it closer to the center of the page, that’s fine, but do not use the Return or Enter key to continue on to another page. Don’t EVER use the Return or Enter key to create a new page. ALWAYS use Insert a Page Break to create a new page.

9) If you are not using section dividers, the first page after the TOC is where your first poem will go. If you did use section dividers, please go to the first page after the divider. Either way, you should then open the file for the first poem that appears on the printed TOC. Select all, copy it, then go to your manuscript file, place the cursor at the top of the last free page and paste the poem.

10) If your poem is longer than one page and you are concerned about it breaking in the middle of a stanza, please, do NOT insert notes to add junk to the page. Simply place the cursor at the beginning of the split stanza and insert a Page Break. This will allow a stanza to stay together without having to note where stanzas begin or end.

11) Insert the cursor at the end of the last line of the poem, hit Return or Enter and then insert a Page Break. You are now ready to place the next poem.

12) Go to your TOC print out. Cross the poem you just placed off of the list, open the next poem and repeat this process until all of poems are placed.

Your original files may vary because the poems may have been worked on or written at different times. Please change your formatting so that they are all the same. Some people think they are doing the reader or the publisher a favor by setting a 1-2 inch paragraph indent on all of their poems or tabbing everything to the right 2 spaces (or more) so the poems align more in the middle of the page. Fight the urge to do either of these.

Align your poems with the default margins set by your writing program. This does not mean everything should be aligned straight left, no indented lines. As poets, we often tab in a line or set a series of repeating tabs. This is fine as long as they are tabbed into place (as opposed to using a space bar) and as long as the author has not applied a style that inserts spacing between the left margin of the page and where the poem alignment begins.

Detailed Version

1)Create a Table of Contents (without page numbers–just an order of sequence for the poems). Save the file as “TOC” but also print it out and place it on the desk beside you. This is your road map.

2) Open a “NEW” WORD file. Do a “Save As” and save it as an RTF file titled “YourLastName_BookTitle.rtf” The selection for file format is usually a box that appears underneath the box where the file name goes. RTF stands for Rich Text Format.

3) Type your name, mailing address, phone number and email address at the top of this page in 12pt type. Skip down a couple of spaces and type the title in 14pt–ALL CAPS and BOLD, then hit the “Return” or “Enter” key to go one line below the title.

4) If you are using MS WORD, go to the menu bar at the top of the page and click on Insert. This will open a dialog box with options. Select “Page Break.” A new page will
be created and your cursor will be sitting on the top line of it.

5) At the top of the page you just created, type the title of the book again in 14pt BOLD, ALL CAPS. Then hit the “Return” or “Enter” key to go one line below the title and insert another “Page Break.”

6) Copy the text from your Table of Contents file (TOC) and paste it at the top of the new page that was created when you inserted a Page Break into your “YourLastName_BookTitle.rtf ” file.

7) At the end of your TOC, insert another “Page Break.” NOW you are ready to start your book.

8) Open the file for the first poem that appears in the TOC.

10) Eliminate all Return lines above the title and after the last line of the poem.

11) Place your cursor anywhere on the page, then hold down the Control Key on a PC or Command key on a MAC (lower left key on the keyboard) and type the letter “a” simultaneously or go to the “Edit” menu at the top of the page, scroll down and select: “Select all.” Do NOT drag to select all.

12) Hold down the Control/Command key and the letter “c” simultaneously or go to the “Edit” menu at the top of the page, scroll down and select: “copy”

13) Go to the “YourLastName_BookTitle.rtf” file and place your cursor at the top of the page you created when you inserted a Page Break after the TOC.

14) Paste the poem by holding down the Control/Command key and the letter “v” simultaneously or by going to the “Edit” menu and scrolling down to where it says “paste.”

15) If your poem is longer than one page long and you are concerned about it breaking in the middle of a stanza, please, do not insert notes to add junk to the page. Simply place the cursor at the beginning of the split stanza and insert a Page Break. This will allow a stanza to stay together and start at the top of a new page without having to note where stanzas begin or end.

16) Insert the cursor at the very end of the last line of the poem, hit Return or Enter and then insert a Page Break.

17) Save the file. You are now ready to place the next poem, but before you do, cross the poem you just placed into the manuscript off your TOC print out.

18) Open the file containing Poem #2 in your TOC. Eliminate extra Returns above the title and below the last line as you did with the first poem. Select All. Copy the poem.

19) Return to the “YourLastName_BookTitle.rtf” file. Place the cursor on the new page that was created when you inserted a Page Break at the end of the first poem and paste Poem #2.

20) If you have followed these directions, Poem # 2 will now start at the top of the new page. Make adjustments per instruction #15. Save the file. Cross the title of Poem #2 off of the TOC list. Move on to the next poem.

21) Repeat these steps until all of the poems are in order in the same manuscript. Saving regularly. When you have finished copying and pasting all of the files into a single file, you are done. This is the file you should send Main Street Rag.

As you can see, there are a number of steps involved in preparing your manuscript. If you wait until the last minute, you may not have time to format it properly, so please have it formatted according to these instructions before you pay your reading fee.

Thank you and best wishes for success.