...  Publishing New Writers

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 April, 2004


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The Next Step: Preparing Your Manuscript

by Sandy Tritt


            So much of writing is subjective—my preferences are not necessarily the same as someone else’s, nor are they necessarily right or wrong. But writing professionals (agents, editors, publishers and so on) generally agree with the following guidelines:

·         The manuscript must be typed or computer-generated. No handwritten Submissions , regardless of how wonderful your handwriting.

·         Use clean, white, 8 ½ by 11 inch unlined paper of average thickness. No onion skin and no card stock. And, please, no cute graphics or pretty flowers. Keep it professional.

·         Use an easy-to-read font, preferably COURIER or TIMES NEW ROMAN. Nothing cute, nothing fancy. Just ordinary font easy on the eyes. The preferred font size is 12.

·         Left adjust the print. Do not right adjust, center or fill the line to force a right flush.

·         Leave at least a one inch margin on all sides—top, bottom, left and right—of the print.

·         Double space.

·         Unless otherwise instructed, leave only one space after a period.

·         If you have carefully followed the above suggestions, you should average 250 words per page. The reason for this is not so you can destroy the environment by wasting trees, but so the writing professional can read your work without a migraine and have plenty of space t make corrections, comments and suggestions in the margins and between the lines.

·         Indent each paragraph 5 spaces (1/2 inch). Do this by setting and using the tab, not by typing each of the spaces. Do not skip a line between paragraphs.

·         Do not leave a line between scenes. Instead, center asterisks, dashes, or dots to show the line was intentionally left blank. Note: This is no longer consistently true. Some publishers now download your electronic manuscript into their publishing software, and want it as it will be printed. So, when submitting a paper copy, still include the asterisks. But check before submitting an electronic version.

·         Unless your manuscript is a submission for a contest with different instructions, put the name of the manuscript and your name, separated by a slash, on the upper left corner of every page (you may skip the first page, if the author name and info is included on the page). Example of how this should look: Living the Legacy / Tritt

·         Again, unless otherwise instructed, put the word “page” and the page number (and do use a number, not the number spelled out), on the upper right corner of each page.

·         Unless otherwise instructed, do not staple the pages. For small manuscripts, use a paper clip. For larger ones, put in an appropriately sized box and do not bind at all.

·         Spell check. No matter how few words you’ve added or changed, run spell check one more time.

·         Never send the only copy of your work.

·         Verify that all pages are included and that all are in readable condition. Copiers have a keen sense of humor and will eat your work, or better yet, substitute a blank or partially written page instead of the real thing. Do not trust them.

·         Include a cover letter, unless requested not to. It can be short, simple and to the point, but should include the author’s full name and address, telephone number with best time to call, and email address. It should give the name of the manuscript, the approximate word count and a statement as to why you are sending it. (Be specific. If for publication in a magazine, list the magazine name. If for a contest, list the contest name and end date. If for a critique, say so. Many writing professionals dabble in multiple endeavors and don’t like to figure out which one you are referring to.) You may also mention the reason for writing and anything else pertinent or special about the manuscript or the author (it is based on a true story or the author is twelve years old). Give special instructions, such as if you do not want the manuscript returned. Do not get carried away; a cover page should never exceed one page and should be single spaced.

·         If a query is enclosed, it should take the place of the cover letter. A query should have one paragraph about the manuscript, one paragraph about the author (include any awards, special qualifications and publishing history) and one paragraph about what you want (representation, published) and what you are willing do to get it (book-signings, speeches, sacrifice your firstborn). Don’t try to be funny. It’s almost guaranteed that the professional won’t share your sense of humor and will send you straight to the rejection pile.

·         Include a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Be sure to include ample postage, enough for the professional to add three or four pages of her own in addition to your manuscript. If you live in a different country than the recipient, do not adhere the postage. Instead, paper clip international reply coupons (“IRC,” which are available at any post office) or enough money to completely cover the postage. This should be noted on the cover page.

·         If a fee is required, send a check or money order, never cash. Again, if you live in a different country than the recipient, send a money order in the recipient’s country’s funds. For example, if you live in Canada and you are sending to a U.S. address, get a money order payable in U.S. funds. Most banks, post offices and—last resort—international airports, can handle this transaction for a small fee.

·         Never pay an agent or publisher, unless you are well aware of exactly what you will receive for your money. Legitimate agents and publishers do not charge reading fees. Likewise, be wary of an agent or publisher who recommends a specific book doctor or editor. It is likely that there is a kickback involved and you’ll be paying for it.

·         Double check everything before mailing, including the recipient’s address. Seal, drop in the mailbox and say a prayer.


            There are entire books devoted to manuscript formats and submission, but these are the basics. Unless you need specific information or guidance for writing a query letter, you should be fine. Remember, you will never be published (or win a contest) if you don’t take that first step and make a submission. Rejection, however uncomfortable, is not fatal.

(from Section 5, Workbook)

Want more great tips and techniques? Our Inspiration for Writers Tips and Techniques Workbook is now available. Expanded tips, more topics, reproducible worksheets, exercises to practice what you learn and much more--check it out! Free shipping anywhere in the United States.

(c) copyright 2002 by Sandy Tritt. All rights reserved, except for those listed here. September be reproduced for educational purposes (such as for writer's workshops), as long as this copyright notice and the url: http://tritt.wirefire.com are distributed with the pages. For use in conferences or other uses not mentioned here, please contact Sandy Tritt at tritt@wvadventures.net for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.

   Keep writing!

Sandy Tritt

Inspiration for Writers tritt@wvadventures.net

























       by Margaret Montreuil

Words are the most powerful energy on earth. But with modern technology, there are far too many of them. Our world cannot hold them all—cannot read them all. That’s why, in our day, writing to be published is often a dream riddled with heartaches. The odds are against us. And, sometimes, it seems, even God is against us. But that is a big fat lie. Here’s what you do:

 1. Ask yourself why you have a drivenness to write. This defines your makeup and destiny. If your “happiness” is most felt in the world of words, then you were born for them. Do you spend unusual amounts of time and money on books? It’s okay to admit your addiction. Because you belong to God, you can follow your passion. It’s your compass. Don’t just write to write. Pay attention to your life. What lights up your face? What do you dream of? Remember, God is your resident editor-in-chief, and your writing projects come from your deepest heart.

2. What discourages you? Money? Competition? Credentials? Time? Forget about that. You are unique and important, and the God of the Universe is with you. However, you will encounter major obstacles. All God’s messengers do.  This is a spiritual law. God will make His perfect way open before you. God does extraordinary things often because of those very hindrances.

3. Know that this is not a hobby, but a calling. Do you feel joy and fear, sometimes equally? Inspiration, co-creation, is scary business. You must plow ahead as a pioneer, in faith. When you write, you may have to let your own ideas go to allow God’s to come. This is “Kingdom Come” writing! Be brave.

4. Work hard, persevere, and believe in yourself—and that God is God and you’re his prize and joy. Realize He is proud of you and wants to display your beautiful creations on His “refrigerator” of published works. You’ll see. 

5. Find people who have the same interests and drives as you. Surround yourself with them. They will help you with ideas, encouragement, and accountability.

6. Look for the hand of God in everything. He brings contacts and opportunities to you, but you must pay attention. Remember that everyone is equal in God’s eyes. The least likely ones may turn out to bring the greatest opportunity and direction. God will use your work in ways you might never think of.

7. Realize this is an adventure with God. Enjoy it! Be blessed, and bless others.

 I live these principles above. God graciously inspired me to write two books on the life of Jesus: a novel and a meditative journey entitled God in Sandals and God with Us; and I’ve started two more books: a sequel to the novel, about the early church, and a non-fiction entitled The Art of Loving God. I’m paying attention to God’s stirrings and leading. I’m believing. Are you? Isn’t this an amazing adventure?  



Critiquing Special

  • Limited time special, one cent per word.  Just mention Publishing New Writers  Newsletter (April, 2004).

    Critiques by Sandy Tritt

  • Unlike most editors, I consider my role to be a mentor or a coach. Instead of just telling you what is wrong, I explain how to correct the problem, and I work with you to teach you how to write effective prose. More than 50% of my business is repeat business, and I relish establishing long-term relationships with other writers.

  • Treat you with respect and compassion. All criticism will be of the "constructive" sort. My purpose is to improve your writing, not to destroy your confidence.

  • Mark your manuscript, correcting grammatical and spelling errors and suggesting alternative wording where appropriate, line-by-line.

  • Highlight areas that are especially well-written, so you will know where your strengths are.

  • Where appropriate, offer suggestions for plot development, character development or other areas that could be strengthened.

  • Return a two-to-four page written analysis of your work. This will include evaluation of: plot, setting, characterization, dialogue, special effects (flash forwards, flashbacks, etc.), voice, point of view and any other areas particular to your work.

  • If appropriate, recommend reading or resources to strengthen your areas of weakness.

  • Answer any questions you  have via email.

  • Provide my telephone number for a personal follow-up, if you desire.

For Sandy's success stories, see http://tritt.wirefire.com/Manuscript_Critique.html

Write Sandy at tritt@wvadventures.net

(See Sandy's article above.)

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Publishing New Writers,

April, 2004 (no. 504)


Publisher: Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL 60118.  Fax (847) 428-8974.

Submissions /comments  cookcomm@gte.net.

Links are welcome.


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Thinking that you're going to get published

by Ken Mulholland


I'm going to take you on a little adventure.


It will be my adventure as much as yours.


It's about getting published.

And this is where having your work presented to the public, to the eyes of many readers, is of value.


AuthorMe is an avenue. It is not a given. But it is a window through which eyes, from all over the world, may see.


You want and long to be published.


You believe that what you have written is worthy enough to make it to a readership awaiting you.


You submit to various publishers and are rejected. And rejected, and rejected.

You give up.


Or, you submit to various publishers and are rejected and rejected and rejected, until...someone takes you on.


Or, you persevere, submitting to a site like AuthorMe, and out of nowhere you receive an email from someone you have never approached. Someone (in my case) in your own backyard, who simply says, 'I like your short story and I have a niche market for it in school libraries. Has this story already been sold to a publisher? If not, would you be interested in getting it out to schools? Please contact me.'


What do you do?


It seems too good to be true.


So, tentatively, you send a reply, hoping that this is not just another scam.


Lo and behold, the reply comes and it doesn't seem to be a scam. The people at the other end appear genuinely interested in your short story and want to use it, and they are offering you a very small commission for your work.


So again, tentatively, you give permission and send your story and after a couple of months the unknown publisher sends you a 'mock up' draft of your work, showing page layout, chapter breaks, paragraph breaks and illustration positioning.


And a contract.


What will you get by signing it?


Not very much, in monetary remuneration; a couple of hundred dollars (U.S.A.) for a thousand copies of a twenty-four page cardboard laminated mini-book to be distributed to school libraries in Victoria, Australia.


What would you do then?


Well, you have to follow it through. After all that's what it's all about: getting a start, no matter how small.


At least you can say, 'I have something published,' and this will be of advantage in the future.


So now, readers of the AuthorMe Newsletter, we have come this far.


I, like you, am awaiting the next step, which is the final draft layout of the manuscript for 'Sencha.'


Next month, I shall report back.


Keep your faith in writing.



Ken Mulholland,

Australian Editor.




God Created You: A Guide to Temperament Therapy

New AuthorMe Paperback...   (Released April, 2004)

By Dr. Rick Martin

From chapter 2... "How a person behaves is a combination of temperament, living in the strengths and/or weaknesses of their temperament environment, decisions they have made or not made, conclusions they have drawn about right and wrong, their relationship with God or the lack thereof..."


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