The Perfect Manuscript
Hey, you! I gather you're here because you're looking for tips on how to format the perfect manuscript to send out to agents and editors. Whether that's true or not, or whether you're simply looking for tips on how to properly format a written work, I hope you'll find this article useful!
Specific to querying, one of the most important steps in successfully landing a book deal with a publisher is having a perfectly formatted manuscript. For an in-depth look at how to successfully get your book published, be sure to check out my blog post "Four Steps to Successfully Get Your Book Published".
You've written your story, and I can picture the pride in your eyes. Now, it's time to dress the bride--let's learn how to properly, consistently, and perfectly format your manuscript in a way that an agent or editor would look at it, sigh longingly, and reach back out to you with a big, fat "YES!"
Here are the key elements that I believe every manuscript should have in place:
Your writing font in your formatted manuscript should traditionally be Times New Roman. I know some folks lean toward Courier, but I strongly advise you to stick to Times. Publishers and agents, in my humble opinion, tend to favor this font style.
Other than your chapter headings and the title and sub-title on your cover page, your manuscript should entirely be in 12-point font size. I once had an agent specifically ask that the manuscript be in 16-point font size. If you specifically get this request, then sure, go for it. But otherwise, I'd stick with the 12-point.
Your entire manuscript should sport a one inch margin. This is, as I understand it, the default setup in Word, but always be sure to check it is set up as such before submitting your manuscript.
Always double-space your document from start to finish.
In addition to double-spacing your manuscript, be sure to indent the first line of your manuscript. Here's how in a Word document:
a.) Select the contents of your manuscript (Ctrl A)
b.) Right click, and from the window of options, select "Paragraph".
c.) In the window that opens, look for "Indentation".
d.) Under "Indentation" you will see a drop down menu under "Special".
e.) From the drop down under "Special" select "First line" and you will see a default setting of 0.5". This is as it should be!
Your manuscript should be left aligned. Best way to do this is Ctrl A, followed by Ctrl L or click the left align button on the toolbar in Word.
Your manuscript cover should include your book title formatted as "Heading 1" in Word, followed by your name under your book title. In the header of your cover page, please be sure to include your name, and page number in the top, center or corner.
That's it! I know, right? So near and yet so far? You'll get there. Remember, you've got grit, or else you wouldn't have kept reading all the way down to this line.
Smile, dream, and keep writing!