The mailing process should be simple, but nerves can bungle the project. I made so many mistakes printing out my submission; I thought I would share a few tips for saving time and paper while preparing your Golden Heart entry for mailing.
- Use the checklist before you print. Nothing is more frustrating than discovering you’ve made a basic formatting mistake right as your printer cartridge runs out of ink. RWA provides a checklist here. It will help you avoid the most obvious errors. Make sure all three parts of your entry are double spaced and have both the title and page numbers in the headers.
- Print only one copy at first: Read it over thoroughly at least once, making note any typos, extra spaces, or other formatting errors. Chances are you’ll catch things you never noticed on the computer screen. It’s much easier to fix these errors before you print your six partials.
- Paper or Plastic? Decide whether you want to send the full on a CD or printed out on paper. Believe it or not, this is a controversial topic. Those who are tech-savvy and/or green are going to want to use the CD. Not only will it save paper, but it will cut postage costs too. Old-schoolers will want to go the print route. They tell horror stories of CDs getting lost and entries disqualified. They say the weight of the package is their proof they sent the full. Either method is perfectly acceptable. If you do use a CD make sure it is clearly, permanently labeled with you title and name.
- Packaging: I have always sent mine in a box. I copy and print out the RWA address from the confirmation email, so my bad handwriting won’t cause any problems. I like to track my package, but it isn’t necessary. Once RWA has received your entry, it will appear on the “my contests” page of your online member account profile.
Let it go: This is perhaps the hardest step of entering the Golden Heart. There comes a time when all revision can only make things worse. Don’t believe me? Last year, one of my entries-the one that did not final- contained three random pages in italics. How could this happen when I spent countless hours combing over that manuscript? I have to believe that in “fixing” one missing italics error, I inadvertently italicized everything around it. Fatigue leads to failure.
You’ve been perfecting this manuscript for months, maybe years.
Send it and forget it.
I would love to hear your GH prep stories. Have you ever had an entry lost or disqualified? Or discovered that fatal error only after it was too late to fix it? Are you an early entrant or an overnight delivery candidate? What tips have you learned to smooth the process?