Friday, May 2, 2014

So You're Ready to Submit Your Manuscript? 11 Things to Remember

I used to submit my manuscript to publishers, and through the years I've learned a few things about what they'd like to see. Bottom line, it's what I'd also like to see now that I am reading manuscripts submitted to me by others.

The writing process can be complicated enough without even looking at how it needs to be presented. But hopefully, these ideas are simple enough not to hang you up even before you've gotten started.

1. Double space the document. It is harder to read a manuscript that is single spaced, no matter how much you like what you read.

2. Center your book title and your name. Start "Name of Book" almost mid-way down the first page. (All succeeding chapter headings should be about mid-way down the page). When you're finished it should look like this:

Name of Book


Your Name

Tab down three spaces before you start the first paragraph.

3. Make sure you have 1" margins. Don't take the text too close to either edge of the paper, and make sure you have 1'' at the bottom.

4. Don't staple anything. Use a paperclip if necessary.

5. Number your pages. Upper right had corner, with your last name or the name of your book directly underneath the page numbers on all pages.

6. Keep the type simple. I usually use Times New Roman. I don't mix the type, trying to make things fancy.

7. Use white paper. No colored, no specially textured. Make it as easy on the eyes for the publisher as possible.

8. Include a cover letter. Make it short and to the point. Don't include pictures, yes, even if your manuscript is a picture book, although it is alright to share your ideas for illustration in the cover letter with the publisher.

9. Make sure you've read all of the guidelines for the publisher. If the publisher wants a synopsis, and you HATE writing them, send it off with the manuscript. If the publisher wants only the first three chapters with a cover letter, send that. If they want the entire manuscript, send that. Don't under-estimate how professional you'll look by just following the directions.

10. Send the publisher sufficient postage if you want the manuscript returned. Many authors send a stamped post card that publishers can send back instead of the manuscript. On the postcard are boxes to check, such as: "I'm interested in this manuscript send____________________," "We're not interested, but thank you," etc. Consider the postage and time you'll save by submitting your manuscript online. Some publishers will not take your manuscript via online so make sure that you've read the guidelines before you send something.

11. Above all, check, check, check for typos and grammar issues. Have someone read what you'll be submitting. Often, all it takes to remove honest errors is another set of eyes.

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