While written with journalists in mind, this one seemed quite appropriate for this column as well. It’s from a book called Mother’s Guide and Daughter’s Friend, written by an “old practitioner” ~ otherwise unidentified ~ in 1890.
1890: Trying Your Hand in Writing
There will be no harm . . . in trying your hand at various kinds of writing. You do not know your own powers, may be, and if you do not place your hopes high you can not suffer great disappointment if you fail to please. In order to secure a reading for your manuscript use a little business sense in preparing it. If you have a reputation already established it matters not upon what you write nor how careless your penmanship, it will be published, otherwise it is necessary to observe the following rules:
Write as plainly as possible, on one side of the paper only; be very particular as to spelling, punctuation and capitalization; use good paper and black ink. If you send your communication to a strange paper enclose stamps sufficient for its return if not accepted. Make no apology for writing it, but in as few words as possible request an examination of the manuscript and its publication if acceptable, or its return if not.
If you have exhibited real literary power it will soon be discovered; if you have not the person who rejects your manuscript has done you a favor.
Source: “An Old Practitioner.” The Mother’s Guide and Daughter’s Friend. Indianapolis, Ind.: Normal Publishing House, 1890.
~ p. 507 ~