Manuscript Formatting Tips For Queries


     It is very important to pay attention to how you format your final copy of your manuscript before sending it off to publishers. A properly formatted manuscript will look more professional and have less likelyhood of heading straight into the slush pile than a manuscript that has not been formatted properly.



     Here is a breakdown of what your formatting should look like:



*To start with put the following into the header on the right hand side of every page: Last name, page number, shortened title…







{Contact info on the next line down and justified left. Put the word count below the header on the right hand corner, justified right, and rounded to the nearest thousands or hundreds for shorts.}




Virginia Jennings             Approximate Word Count: 49,000                                                      

Your address Line 1
Your Address Line 2

(843) ###-####



 (Your title and your name should be centered half of the way down on this same first page)



Visionary From the Stars

By: Virginia Lori Jennings



(*ON the NEXT page place the title of your chapter 1/3rd of the way down, and centered. Skip four lines and then start your paragraph after indenting five spaces.)













<indent>Jean walked among the rows of instrument consoles installed in her research ship and as she lightly passed her hand over the glittering lights she realized that her ship was more home to her than Planet Udoran had ever been. Ever since EASA (Earth’s Aeronautics and Space Administration) sent her out into Udoran’s surrounding stellar system in this one manned research ship, she realized that she had become more alienated from the very planet she had once called home.



          As a research scientist she had been sent to observe and compare the various aspects constantly changing on the many diverse plants in the system in order to learn more about Udoran itself. However as each day went by she found herself longing not for the customary shore leave she was allowed every two months but instead she longed to travel farther away from Udoran and discover what else lay beyond the reaches of the gravitational pull from the system’s star.





About Formatting a Manuscript…



          These days a publisher would like to see your work formatted a specific way because it makes certain pertinent information stand out better. If the editor drops your stack they want to be able to put all the pages back in order easily, hence the page numbers in the corner. If the papers get mixed up with others, the shortened title and name, also in the header, will help them sort everything. As for the contact information, some people say to put this at the top left hand side and some people say to put it under the title and byline. I think it makes more sense to put it near the top of the page as most business letters are formatted like this, plus a person is most likely to start reading at the top left of a page when looking for something.



          As a General rule you will always want to have your manuscript title centered about half of the way down the page, under that put your own name.



            For novels skip to the next page before centering your chapter title 1/3rd of the way down the page.  Each proceeding chapter should always skip to the next page and have the title centered about 1/3rd of the way down.  Then after about 4 lines down start your paragraph. For short stories, don’t bother skipping to the next page, you can just jump two or three lines after your title and name and then start your paragraph. When trying to show a scene break drop down a line, type a * centered, drop down another line and begin your next paragraph. It should look like this:






           Type The End or ### at the very end of your story so the editor can tell there are no more pages to your work. Also set your whole manuscript to 12pt font, double spaced lines, and use one inch margins all around. Arial, Courier, and Times New Roman are popular fonts to send in. On that point though, I have been told that Courier, with its fixed pitch, looks more professional.



           When sending your submission through “snail-mail” please NEVER staple, paperclip, or rubber band your printed pages. Place them in a document envelope loose, along with your query letter. Always incluse a SASE (Self addressed stamped envelope) for the editor to reply back to you- It is in this that we HOPE an acceptance letter will come!


Remember: If you do get a rejection- save it so you can show yourself how many people missed out when you DO find a publisher :).



           When sending your submission through the body of an e-mail send it to yourself first so you can see if your text comes out the way you want it to on the other side. Also be sure to never use html codes in your e-mails as some e-mail programs are set to ignore or undo html code which will scramble the text.  It is also helpful to keep a spreadsheet on who you have submitted your stories to, their contact info, when you mailed it, and what their response was. Also mark down whether you sent it Snail Mail or e-mail.



          This page layout example is not perfect but it is what I use to help me format my own work before I send it to the publisher. You may also want to check to see if a certain publisher has special preference for formatting listed on their website.You can also find more information on formatting a manuscript in books like ‘Writers Market’ and magazines like ‘Writers Digest’.






     *If you have any questions about the submission process that you would like to see us answer here please feel free to leave them in the comments!



Author, Blogger, and illustrator with PDMI Publishing Llc. V.L. Jennings' Blog (Speculating Among The Stars) can be found here: I am the author of two science fiction books called "The Alien Mind" and "Visionary from the Stars". I love to write and I have been doing so since the sixth grade. I was born in April 1987 in the state of New Hampshire; I was Home Schooled from seventh grade and graduated at 16 with a GED. I now live with my husband and three children in Dillon, South Carolina. You can find me on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Shelfari, Linkedin, and Pinterest. I love connecting with people! I am readily to answer questions and offer advice and support to new writers.

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