Manuscript Format on Submission

1. The manuscript you submit should be printed on standard, 8 ½” x 11” 20 lb paper on one side of the page only. (This is standard American paper, evidently, in the UK an A4 size page will suffice, but be sure to ask the publisher or agent. )

2. Remember to double-space your manuscript, just like a PhD thesis or journal paper, and indent the paragraphs or when dialogue five spaces. (This is the most important rule. The double spacing is easier to read and also adds room for critique notes.)

3. Use a 12 point font Courier or Times Roman, but always check the publisher or agent’s guidelines before your submission.

4. Be sure to only use white paper for your manuscript and proper business stationery for the cover letter. Don’t send work in pretty envelopes with art or images from your website on them. The publisher or agent will not care about your smart associations because they will not read the story.

5. Mark each page with a page number and include a header with your last name, a word from the title, and page number. A busy editor may drop a pile of manuscripts on the floor; you want it to be quickly reassembled in order.

6. Don’t send your query letters out without fully researching the agency or publisher. RESEARCH THIS CAREFULLY. The top reason for rejection is the manuscript doesn’t fit for the publishing house or agency. So make sure that the publisher or agent handles the genre of books you are submitting. Consult a market guide, but also try to dig a little deeper than that. Don’t worry; it will pay off.

7. Get names. Do not send your letter to ‘ Dear Sir,’ so take a minute and phone the agent or publisher, if you must, to find out to whom you are to address your submission. In the end, always read the submission guidelines.

8. If in any doubt, always query first. This is particularly true if you are looking for an agent. If they are curious about your project, they will then request more materials.

9. Only send what is requested. Don’t send any gifts, bribes or promotional supplies with your package. Don’t submit summaries for the manuscripts that you may have in the drawer when they’ve only asked to see one document.

10. Spend the same time and energy on the submission package as you did on your manuscript. Be sure to make it as sharp as possible. This submission is your sales tool. Also, have the help of critique partners and writer friends in making it perfect.

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