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09/04/2019

What’s the best way to present a manuscript to a publisher?

QUESTION
What’s the best way to present a manuscript to a publisher?
I’m entering a first-time author’s contest in which you mail your manuscript to the publisher, but I’m not quite sure how to present it. For instance, how do I seperate the chapters? Should I put a blank page between them, continue on the same page and put a line between them, or simply move on to the next page? Also, is it supposed to be formatted like the pages of the book (i.e. the page is horizontally split in half, sized like book pages, with “two pages” on one computer page) or is one computer page equivalent to one page of the book? We’re also supposed to include a brief summary of the book, and I’m not sure if I should do this in essay format, letter format, or literally like the summaries on the backs of books….any tips will be appreciated! Thanks!

ANSWER
I’ll try to be as clear as I can and hope it helps:

First, with respect to formatting, you’re going to want to use Times New Roman font for EVERYTHING, 12 pt. You’ll need a cover page. On the cover page you will want you name, address, phone number, email, and word count (the total number of words in your story, or book) in the upper left corner, single-spaced. You’ll then want to center your title in the middle of the page, type it in all caps, and double-space below it to write your by-line “a novel by xxxxxxxx”.

It should look something like this:

Name
Address
Phone number
email address
Word count
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
(centered)TITLE
(centered)A novel by Xxxxx X. Xxxxxxxx
x
x
x
x
x
x

That’s you cover page.

You’ll want to insert a page number on each page in the upper right hand corner of the manuscript. Type in your last name before the page number. If you use MS Word 2000 or later, your last name will appear on every page just before the page number.

On the first page you will center your chapter number/title, use all caps and then go down and fill in your text.

(centered)CHAPTER 1
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx.

Should look like that.

When you have a new section or chapter, simply double space twice, wherever you are, and do the same as the above. Don’t add pictures or strange fonts, or anything like that as it is a fast way to have your work rejected.

Do NOT worry about formatting like a book. Manuscripts are much different. A publishing house worries about the book format. A writer simply worries about THIS format.

One manuscript page is usually equal to about half a page or slightly less than a formatted book page. About two to three pages in your manuscript equal one book page.

Your summary should basically be what you’d read on the dust jacket of a published book. Don’t write it like an essay, don’t take more than 200 words, and make sure you take your time to spell check and grammar check (also, don’t just trust your computer to do it for you). This is what they’ll be looking at first, and first impressions matter. When you write this, don’t try to explain what you “wanted to accomplish as a writer” or what “the story is trying to say”. Simply write up a summary of your book.

WOW, that was long. Hopefully this is of some help to you. A lot of the sites on the web have this stuff wrong, by the way. This is the universally accepted method of formatting almost all manuscripts, and knowing it will help you a great deal.