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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.
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
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
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
for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.
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
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
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
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.
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.
Find people who
have the same interests and drives
as you. Surround yourself with
them. They will help you with
ideas, encouragement, and
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.
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?
Critiques by Sandy
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
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
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
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
Provide my telephone number for a
personal follow-up, if you desire.
For Sandy's success stories, see
Write Sandy at
(See Sandy's article above.)
Visit our sister websites...
Publishing New Writers,
April, 2004 (no. 504)
Publisher: Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL 60118.
Fax (847) 428-8974.
Submissions /comments firstname.lastname@example.org.
To subscribe and/or review our archive of past newsletters, go to
Thinking that you're going to get published
by Ken Mulholland
going to take you on a little
will be my adventure as much as yours.
about getting published.
this is where having your work
presented to the public, to the eyes
of many readers, is of value.
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.
submit to various publishers and are
rejected. And rejected, and rejected.
you submit to various publishers and
are rejected and rejected and
rejected, until...someone takes you
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.'
do you do?
seems too good to be true.
tentatively, you send a reply, hoping
that this is not just another scam.
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.
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.
will you get by signing it?
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
would you do then?
you have to follow it through. After
all that's what it's all about:
getting a start, no matter how small.
least you can say, 'I have something
published,' and this will be of
advantage in the future.
now, readers of the AuthorMe
Newsletter, we have come this far.
like you, am awaiting the next
step, which is the final draft layout
of the manuscript for 'Sencha.'
month, I shall report back.
your faith in writing.
Created You: A Guide to Temperament Therapy
AuthorMe Paperback... (Released April, 2004)
Click here for more info...
Go Back in Time!...
our new all - immersion Life of Jesus (Part 1) from David C. Cook
III. You'll become a true believer. Visit...
is dedicated to the memory of David C. Cook III.
From Paul the Apostle...
By Kurt Schuller
inspired work recreating