Formatting Your Manuscript the "Proper" Way
Sooner rather than later, we're all going to have to plug in those novels we've written into a manuscript to send off to our choice of publisher for consideration. After the extensive time you've spent working on getting this book together, it is finally time for the step in this long process of seeing how the professionals are going to react.
No, we won't be discussing rejections and acceptances today, but we'll get there.
What we'll be focusing on today is the importance of formatting your manuscript. It is an exciting time to be at the stage of sending off a completed manuscript, but just sending off your piece as soon as you write the words, "The End" or "To Be Continued" are written. Not literally of course, because we live in an era where we love to be fancy with epilogues and sequel previews!
There are various steps that need to be taken before you can actually send the brick of stacked papers you've compiled. The first and most important being that you send your manuscript through a round or two (or three) of editing.
The next step, one editors aware of your intentions to send off a manuscript will likely tell you, is plugging your manuscript into the proper format publishers prefer. This step is rather easy as it is simply a matter of having your title page with contact information, a one-page letter to the publisher requesting consideration and of course, your manuscript. For your convenience I have included a link at the end of this post that will guide you to where I have provided you with a simplistic template of proper manuscript format.
There are a few things to note regarding the manuscript template I have provided, and your formatting a manuscript to send to publishers in general. Let's begin with the things to note regarding the template I am providing. All margins, spacing, page breaks and numbered pages are accurate to the proper format publishers will be looking for. What is not included is a page break for your letter to the publishers. The reason for this is because each publishing house is different and will have different ways in which they will want you to format the letter itself. Some publishers will even request the letter be completely separate from the manuscript.
This, and various other aspects of the manuscript, will be subject to change based upon the publisher you are submitting to. Research will be required on your end to format the template further.
It should also be noted that I used the font, "Book Antiqua." This is an acceptable font but I used it more for the sake that the user would notice a non-familiar font. Each and every publishing house will have their preference on fonts. Universally Times New Roman is the favorite, but recently I have seen Garamond and Calibri become choices among many, many others. You should also then be noting that the font of this template may also be subject to change.
Now this template will get you started in terms of how your cover page should look, regardless of font required. The same goes for your chapter format and all. The only other aspect of your manuscript you will need to consider is how many chapters are going into it. Unless your book proposal has gone through with a publisher (which we will cover in another post), you're only going to be including your fist few chapters. Once again, this will require research, or the word of the publisher you are contacting for your submission. Some companies want the first thirty chapters, some want the first ten. Normally the company's website will have this information, but be prepared to ask an actual human being.
For now, here is a starting point to plug in your manuscript. Whether you're finished with your story or still in the process of crunching out those chapters, here's an opportunity to be another step closer. Scroll down towards the bottom of the "Blog" page of the website, and you will find the button for the template titled, "Proper Manuscript Format."