Are you there yet? Are you to the point when you can start planning to send your book, story, essay or article manuscript to a potential publisher?
If so, I’d like to give you some tips on how to get that manuscript into the editor’s hands in good shape — and to greatly enhance your chances that it will be read and reviewed accordingly. It never ceases to amaze me how many writers spend weeks, months or years writing something, only to lose all chance of getting it published the minute they put it in the mail or hit “Send” on their email. The reason? They don’t follow very basic guidelines for submitting manuscripts.
Here are 10 simple tips to properly formatting and submitting your manuscript in such a way that it is noticed, handled with care and given the attention you deserve for all the hard work:
1) Enclose a simple one-page cover letter stating the contents of the package, word count, and that you look forward to their reply in due course. Then sign it. Keep it short.
2) TITLE PAGE:
Name of Book (or Title of Article or Story)
Address, Phone, Email
Approximate Word Count
3) Double-space throughout (on Microsoft Word, it reads as 1.5 spaces, but that’s the same as old-fashioned double spacing)
4) Try not to end pages with hyphenated words, or single words that carry over to the next page (widows). Also try not to end pages with only the first line of new paragraphs, unless they are single-line paragraphs.
5) Put a header and page number on each page. Header can simply look like: “Name of Book (or Title of Article) – Author Name – Page #
6) Use one-inch margins on the top, bottom and sides of every page
7) Your Table of Contents should also be double-spaced
8) Be sure to add your Acknowledgments/Thanks and Dedication pages, if you wish.
9) Always mail a hard copy of the manuscript to the publisher — even if they request it in digital form. Mail it in Priority Mail box or large Priority Mail folder, so that you have some basic tracking. Insure it. However, refrain from sending it Express Mail or any other form that requires a signature at the other end unless you are specifically requested to do so.
10) The most important tip of all: Before you send off that final hard copy, print out the entire manuscript. Read it very carefully and very slowly. Correct all typos, grammar and punctuation errors. Make your manuscript perfect. I repeat: Make your manuscript perfect. Nothing sours an editor more quickly than a manuscript riddled with typos and poor punctuation, no matter how good your story or article.
Print out this list and put it on your bulletin board, near your computer, where you can refer to it. Good luck!
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