Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Manuscripts must be pretty close to perfect to have a minimal chance for acceptance. With the publishing industry so overwhelmed by the vast number of submissions, manuscripts can be rejected for the simplest of reasons.

Formatting can be crucial; the overall appearance forms the publisher’s or agent’s first impression of both your manuscript and you, its author. Many publishers and agents, prior to reading a single word, fan through the pages to see if any particular format issues standout. Your manuscript can be rejected without even a single word being read.

Publishers and Agents read a never-ending stream of submissions, and font variations can make the eye strain difficult. Your manuscript must be easy on the eyes. A Courier New font is far easier to read than a Times Roman. Most Publishers’ or Agent’s won’t waste their time on a poorly formatted manuscript when there or so many others available. It’s easy to stuff a rejection slip into an envelope. If you send in a well formatted manuscript you increase your chances of having you manuscript actually read.

First your manuscript needs a title page that features your name, mailing address, e-mail address, and telephone number in the upper left corner, all single spaced.

Give an approximate word count in the upper left corner.

At the middle of the page, centered both vertically and horizontally, print the novel’s title in all caps, followed by “By” on the next line, and then the name under which you wish the book to be published, be it your name or which ever name you choose.
For example:(ignoring the lines I had to put in to get it spaced right)

Your name----------------your approximate word count
Your mailing address
Your e-mail address
Your phone number

-------------------------By your name

Second your manuscript needs what is known as a “header.” It’s the very first line appearing at the top of each page. It lists your name to the far left, the title of your book anywhere to the right of this and the page number,
such as:

Coburn/Neill------After the Mist------Page 11

It’s easy to create an automatic header in most processing software, from the menu at the top select “View,” then “Header and Footer.” Your header should start on the first page of your manuscript not on title page.

Indent each paragraph a full five spaces. This is the most widely accepted method.

Chapter titles are reserved for non-fiction only. If you are a fiction writer and have not received that best selling title yet simply number your chapters don’t give them names. Once you’re a best selling author you can get away with just about anything.

Separate your scenes and paragraphs with a space break.

Begin each chapter at the vertical middle of a clean page and fill the remainder of the page with text. When a chapter ends start a new chapter on the next clean new page.

Studies have shown that excessively long paragraphs are unappealing to the eye and can be difficult to read. Break up long paragraphs into one or more separate paragraphs.

Lastly you might want to consider having your manuscript edited by a professional. It’s your call, but I can say it improved our manuscript immensely.
I used 'Book Editing Services of Michael Garrett,' he is as he claims, honest, professional, affordable and thorough.

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