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Article:
Preparing Your Book Manuscript

Make sure your manuscript (ms.) is in standard form before sending it to an agent or editor. That "pile of paper" represents you and your work, so you will want it to look professional.

Method:
The ms. should be produced on a computer. Do not make any handwritten changes. Use the front side of your paper only.

Paper:
Use good quality white paper; no cream or other colors.

Typeface:
Use clear, readable 12 pt. type; no dot matrix or pale type. A serif typeface, such as Times New Roman, is best. Don't get cute or creative with your fonts; editors hate that.

Margins:
Leave generous margins, at least an inch, on both sides and top and bottom of each page. Indent five to eight spaces to indicate a new paragraph; remaining lines should be flush left. Do not justify your right margin.

Format:
Spacing - Double space all of your material except the cover letter. No space and a half; you will not fool the agent or editor. (They need space for editing marks.) This rule applies to all text, including block quotations, notes, appendix material, bibliographies, etc. In other words, double space all parts of the manuscript. (Do not double-double space between paragraphs.)

Note: For years we left two spaces after a period, question mark, or other end punctuation. Now, with electronic typesetting, we leave only one space. A big adjustment for many of you!

Header - Each page should have a header. On the left side, type a shortened form of your title. For example, if your title is Watching for Signs, your abbreviated version would be Watching. Then put a slash mark and your last name. (Watching/Snowden). On the same line on the right side of the page, put your page number. Every page should have this header so that if the pages are dropped, they can be put back into order.

Title Page - Your title page will have your name, address, phone numbers, and e-mail address in the upper left-hand corner. On the top right-hand side will be the approximate number of words in your ms. (If it's 49,200 words, write: Approximately 49,000 words.) Then drop down to the middle of the page and type your title; underneath it put: By and your name. (All subsequent pages will have the header with key word/last name on the left and page number on the right.)

First Page of Chapters - On the initial page of each chapter, drop down about four inches from the top of the page and write your chapter number (e.g., Chapter One). On all other pages, drop down only one double space from your header to type your text.

Mailing the Manuscript:
When you send out your ms., don't bind it in any way. Don't shrink wrap it. Simply put it in a manuscript box or padded mailer with your cover letter on top. ALWAYS include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) or a self-addressed stamped box (SASB). Make sure you include sufficient postage for your material to be returned. You may send a photocopied version if it is clear, readable, and on good quality paper.

Children's Books:
Follow these same rules. Use standard ms. form. If you have an idea about where you would like page breaks on a children's picture book, you can include a dummy showing that; however, it is not necessary. If you have illustrations, tell the agent/editor how many and if they are black-and-white or color. Most don't want all the illustrations with your ms. submission; several are sufficient.

 

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