Formatting Manuscripts: A Simple Guide to Follow
Many aspiring writers want to know the formatting standard before they submit a manuscript. There is an industry standard for manuscript submissions, after all. By following the industry standard, these aspiring authors will feel that there is a higher chance for their drafts to be chosen for publication by a potential publisher. If you are one of the aspiring writers who is about to submit a manuscript to a publisher, here is a checklist to guide you through.
Since this is the digital age, it is common for aspiring writers to have their manuscripts encoded in word documents. In that case, check what font you’ve used when you encoded the draft. Most publishers prefer it when the submitted novel uses the “Courier” font. This is the font used since long ago so many editors insist on this font even in the digital age. Of course, there are still editors who will accept other fonts.
Avoid binding or stapling your manuscript. Remember that editors will most likely photocopy your draft to pass it around to other editors for feedback. If your manuscript is bound or stapled, the editor will have a hard time photocopying your story. Don’t give the editor a hard time.
#3. Line Spacing
This guideline is strict in the industry. If you are submitting your manuscript, make sure that it is double spaced. Even the 1.5 line spacing is unacceptable. The editors have well-trained eyes that can easily tell whether you’ve cut corners with the line spacing or if you’ve followed the standards.
Don’t forget to check the margin of your document. It should be 1 to 1/2 inch. The editors won’t appreciate it when you save on space, especially on the margin. They won’t have any space to write their thoughts or feedback into without those margins.
Printing back-to-back? You should avoid doing that. Again, the editors will always look for empty space to write their thoughts about your manuscript. The empty side of the paper is the best place for them to note their observations. Thus, avoid printing both sides of the paper.
#6. Title Page
Submit a manuscript together with a title page. The title page is where you are going to write your name, pen name (if using one), and contact information. You also have to include the title of your novel, the synopsis, as well as the word count in the title page.
#7. Protecting Your Manuscript
Most newbies have this fear that the publisher may copy or stole their manuscript. To protect their story, they will usually put the copyright symbol (©). However, this symbol really won’t do anything if the publisher is dead set in getting your novel. Of course, it is rare for publishers to publish or use a submitted novel without letting the author know. The best way to protect your manuscript is to ensure that you have a copy of the original as well as an indisputable time stamp of when you created it, among other evidence.
#8. Other Details
Pay attention to other details about your manuscript. For example, you should include page numbers, title of your novel, and author’s name in both the header and footer. This way, the editor can easily put your manuscript together when they dismantle it. Always left justify the whole novel.
Don’t give the editors a chance to reject a great manuscript. Follow these guidelines. It will also help if you ask the publisher you plan to send the manuscript their specific standards. That way, you can follow the format they prefer.