What Every Writer Needs to Know

Now this is valuable information for all writers, drawn from a handy book, published in England in 1900, called How To Write For Magazines. The author, apparently a successful practitioner of the craft, chose the catchy pseudonym, “£600 A Year From It.”

Woman at typewriter (1900)

Should MSS. be Typewritten?
“Should my work be typewritten or not ?” That is a frequent question to me. I always reply that it certainly should be typewritten, unless there are extraordinary reasons why not. Were I an editor to-day I would utterly refuse, under any circumstances, to look at any effort from an unknown–or even known–contributor, unless it complied with this condition. The typewritten story or article is so much easier to read–it can be read almost by a glance along each page of the MS., as compared with the older style of handwriting–that no editor of our days cares for the latter in preference, even when exceptionally well done…

To the busy editor the typewriter has come as an angel; like the famous advertised pen, it “comes as a boon and a blessing to men.” The neat typewritten copy of an article or story can read so soon and so easily by him; it can be so conveniently set up by the compositors, if accepted, and save much time to them–which is money, too, to the editor’s firm!–that it is no wonder that nearly every magazine in the country makes it a rule to look at none but MSS. that are typewritten…

I trust you who have read this book, whether an aspiring gentleman or lady in the domain of literature, will have learned something of the ways and methods now in vogue by those who succeed in making a very “decent” living out of writing for the weeklies and monthlies, despite the “hard times” and “severe competition.” And both these are really serious factors with all, especially with us writers, and no mistake. We have to work hard, to be always on the lookout to use our brains in every way. “Plots” and “subjects” are our daily thoughts and mental food.

Yet we love the work; we are wedded to it, most of us, and we ask no other profession. We are quite satisfied with what we do, now, at all events. When I earned only fifty pounds a year I often felt discouraged, but success came at last, even to me. And I congratulate myself on my own judgment, which influenced me to try to make a career in this kind of work rather than go on in the dreary round that would have been my lot for life.

I can now expect, with health, an average income of at least £600 annually, and doubtless more as time goes on. What should I have been now getting in my other disliked and dreary work? I tremble to think of it!