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
- The manuscript must be typed or computer-generated.
No handwritten Submissions , regardless of how wonderful your
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.
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
Our problem has been the armchair
browser, often a contributing author,
who reads but makes no comments to
Until now, we have implemented
reader comment links and a survey
system. We have attempted to launch a
critique exchange, but sadly it was
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
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
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
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Of Godí about organized religion and
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concerns and desires for America and
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
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.
This Just In Ė From Paul the Apostle
By Kurt Schuller
inspired work recreating
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
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,
Instructor Name: Lynette Rees [Dip. Couns]
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.
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!
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
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!
- 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
Write Sandy at firstname.lastname@example.org
(See Sandy's article above.)