Standard fiction manuscript is important and I’m asked about it so frequently that I’ve uploaded a sample document. Click on ‘Presentation’ :
I really wanted the document to appear, shazam! on the page, rather than as a link. But clicking the link works OK.
Presenting your manuscript to an electronic publisher
Lynne Connolly, prolific author of contemporary, historical and paranormal novels for the world of e-publishing has been kind enough to share the tricks of submitting work electronically:
Sue’s guide is excellent, especially for printed documents, but fewer publishers are asking for those these days. Not as many offices packed with towers of paper!
I keep a template for each publisher, set up the way the publisher wants it.
- In general, headers and footers are to be avoided in the electronic version – not as much of a chance of dropping the whole shebang on the floor and needing the page numbers.
- Single line spacing unless the publisher’s guidelines say otherwise (double spacing makes the document much bigger, and the recipient can easily change it for herself)
- Keep the formatting as simple as possible.
A publisher asking for electronic documents is more likely (though not always) to ask for the whole thing, not just a partial (first three chapters and synopsis). It doesn’t take up space like a paper document does.
My thanks to Lynne Connolly for all that valuable stuff.
But, on the other hand …
I do think good manuscript presentation is important in the same way that washing your hair and shining your boots can be important when you’re attending a job interview. Editors and competition judges work with words and they notice poor presentation. The ‘rules’ are there for excellent reasons, too – double line spacing is quick and easy to read; large margins allow for notes to be made; a clear font is easy on the eye; ‘empty’ lines between paragraphs disrupt the smooth flow of your story and make the reader think they’re reading a succession of scenes instead of a succession of paragraphs. (One of the greatest disservices that the creators of Word have done to writers is to make it the default for ‘empty’ line space to appear whenever you press ‘return’. But it’s easy to fix – look at the presentation document for details.)
But what if you find good presentation a challenge?
Maybe you’re dyslexic or left school at 14 or were never at the same school long enough to learn properly?
Don’t let the preparation of the manuscript put you off. The storytelling is waaaaay more individual and creative and … and what you’re all about. You can always get someone to help you with the technicalities (offer to wash their car in exchange or something).
The story is the creative thing – the formatting is boring necessity.