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 September, 2002

Manuscript Format

by Sandy Tritt


Okay, this is an easy one. 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 1/2 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 type 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.
  • 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 to make corrections, comments and suggestions in the margins and between the lines.
  • Indent each paragraph 5 spaces (1/2 inch). 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.
  • 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).
  • 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 (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 kick-back 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.

(c) copyright 1999 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






















Invitation: Visit "Lit-Talk"

If you have regularly visited AuthorMe.com, you've noticed that we constantly hunt for ways to increase reader and writer feedback and participation.

Our problem has been the armchair browser, often a contributing author, who reads but makes no comments to others.

Until now, we have implemented reader comment links and a survey system. We have attempted to launch a critique exchange, but sadly it was little used.

Our latest attempt is more successful. Initially called a "Baby Board," Lit-Talk offers you a window to other writers at a personal level. Please visit, browse, but get out of your armchair. Your assignment:  Post at least one comment, no matter what. We'll listen. And you'll probably provoke a response.


Bruce Cook, Editor

New AuthorMe Sections


Visit our new subject sections, which we have adopted from popular demand and, in one case, patriotism.


Help a Writer

Try a Writer's Survey


Visit http://www.author-me.com/surveymanuscripts.htm


Read...   Move Over Maharishi

By Dee Landerman

An ordinary housewife is catapulted into the unknown. For over twenty-five years with one foot in the other dimension, experiences visions, apparitions, and visits from the divine. As a Christian Intuitive with the ability to see into a personís spirit, she experienced first hand where the departed go.

She shares her life openly with you, with the intent to give answers and direction for you to find power, peace and acceptance in your own life. Dee reveals the ĎHeart Of Godí about organized religion and todayís churches, sharing Godís concerns and desires for America and the world.

About the Author

Accepting Godís terms, Dee Landerman committed her life to Jesus Christ, in exchange for the abuse and misery she was enduring and found herself the recipient of divine visitations, messages and visions. Teaching Sunday school, teen classes and a womenís group., she was always guided by the Lord with lessons and illustrations.

Click here for more info...

Go Back in Time!...

Check out our new all - immersion Life of Jesus (Part 1) from David C. Cook III.  You'll become a true believer. Visit... 

Religion Category

AuthorMe.com is dedicated to the memory of David C. Cook III.

This Just In Ė From Paul the Apostle

 Chosen Instrument

By Kurt Schuller

 Another inspired work recreating

Bible times.


Publishing New Writers,

September, 2002 (no.309)

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

Submissions and comments to cookcomm@gte.net. Links are welcome.

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Research in a Writer's World

by Beverly Pauley

Research, this is so important in a writer's work. Never assume anything. If a detail is needed to establish a time line or authenticity, do your homework. Once a reader comes across something that does not ring true, that manuscript will be set aside and remain unread. Details must be correct, so doing research is a vital part of the writing process.

There are many sources on the internet to find information. I personally find Google to be one of the best sites. Interview people who have knowledge of a certain subject. Check out the yellow pages and use 800 numbers. Important information can be discovered through newspaper archives and Courthouse birth/ death records. Listen carefully to conversations you hear. Develop the writer's ear to pick up phrases, tones and voice of people.

Sometimes, though, information is not available. I was writing a story about my great-uncle's experience in a tobacco spitting duel with a neighbor. Try as I might, I could not find the information about how far one could spit tobacco and how many paces were taken before turning to fire the liquid spray at the opponent. I checked out record books and even went so far as to contact a tobacco company.

To solve this, my granddaughter, Amber, and I went in the back yard armed with tall glasses of iced tea and proceeded with a mock duel. I found out my information and was more confident with my short story.

Another time I needed to know how much a cemetery monument cost in 1940 and how to put it in the ground oneself. To my great delight, I found a monument company listed in the yellow pages, called an 800 number, and talked to a customer service representative who was both patient and helpful, answering me as if my questions were an ordinary part of business.

Writing is sometimes a difficult process, and getting published by the novice writer is almost impossible. Don't sabotage your work with sloppy research that negates a worthy body of work. Keep writing, but do your research.

      By  Beverly Pauley, hbpoe@excite.com 

Writing Therapy

Cost: $25.00

Instructor Name: Lynette Rees [Dip. Couns]

Instructor Email: peaceful_writer@yahoo.com

Url: http://class.universalclass.com/writingtherapy

What is Writing Therapy?

Writing Therapy is a way of connecting with your emotions via pen and paper, or the keyboard. I devised this course after studying the research of James W Pennebaker, Head of Psychology, University of Texas. Pennebaker's research shows that writing helps to lift the mood of depressed people. He also found that students who wrote about how they were feeling coped better with their exams.

Class Format

I have devised 9 lessons in all - taking you from what writing therapy is to covering the basic emotions we feel such as anger, grief, love, fear etc. I've also added a lesson on dreams and how to interpret yours, and a bonus lesson on creative writing. Each lesson has an appropriate assignment to match the lesson's content.

Write your way to emotional health!


Writerly Websites...


This is Dianne Ochiltree's site for children, parents, teachers and writers for young readers. Dianne is an author of books for young readers (birth to teenage)

and she is also a children's book reviewer. She's been writing professionally for over 25 years---about 18 years in public relations/advertising/marketing and the last 7 years as a children's writer. Dianne has two books published to date, with Scholastic and with Simon & Schuster.

http://tritt.wirefire.com The Inspiration for Writers website offers help and encouragement to writers of all levels. Tips and Techniques give practical advice about frequent writing blunders. The Writer's Prayer, inspirational quotes, and essays about the writing life add insight and inspiration. The Fiction Showcase offers short stories for the reader's enjoyment. And, for those serious about improving their writing skills, manuscript critiques and coaching services are available. Visit http://tritt.wirefire.com today!

Critiquing Special

  • Limited time special, one cent per word.  Just mention Publishing New Writers  Newsletter (September, 2002).

    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 September 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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