When submitting your finished manuscript to publishers, it is best to research the publishers guidelines. Look for ’submissions’ or ‘author’s guidelines’. Even if they are not posted, it is best to follow the submission guidelines as listed below.
Prior to submitting: Ensure that your manuscript is in the best writing shape possible. Have it edited by a writing group, or editor. Make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors. Read it aloud – you would be surprised how many errors you can catch this way. It is not uncommon to have greater than 10 editing drafts. If you’ve only done a couple – go back and take another look (or two, or three.. or four… you get the drift).
Read the guidelines; some publishers only request a few sample chapters depending what you are submitting. If you are submitting a children’s picture book, you can send the complete manuscript. Even if the guidelines are not listed on the publishers site, give them a phone call to find out exactly where to send your manuscript, to whose attention, and what should be included.
Even if you are submitting electronically, you can adhere to these guidelines with your manuscript:
~ Manuscript is typed on an 8 1/2″ x 11″ format, high quality white bond paper.
~ Double space manuscript text.
~ Margins should be 1 to 1 1/2 inches on top, bottom and left and right hand sides.
~ When submitting by post, ensure you print letter quality printouts – replace your ink cartridge if it is printing faint letters.
~ Sometimes the guidelines will request a cd, the file should be saved formatted as above.
Submit the manuscript with a Title Page:
~ Type your name, address, phone, and email address in the upper left corner.
~ Type your word count (rounded to nearest 10 – 25 words), number of pages (excluding title page) in the upper right hand corner.
~ Type your title centered about 5 inches from the top of the page, two lines below it, type your name (byline).
~ Use a common font, such as Arial, Times, or Times New Roman, with a size of 11 or 12 pt.
~ On the content pages following your title page, type your last name and title in the upper left corner of each page.
~ Type the page number in the upper right corner of each page.
~ Or in the upper right corner you can use this format: Last Name/Title of Manuscript/Page x.
~ Chapter heading should be typed about half way down the page (about 5″).
Always include a cover letter. Make this brief, do not exceed one page. Write a small paragraph of introduction of the manuscript and yourself in a business letter format. Do not ask them to edit or comment on your manuscript. They simply don’t have time. If you are sending your manuscript by email, then the email would be your cover letter, with the manuscript attached (CHECK first – some publishers do not accept attachments). Address the cover letter to the person listed in the submission guidelines.
~ Do not staple your pages. Clip them together with the signed cover letter on top of the title page.
~ Mail in a 9 x 12 (or 10 x 13) envelope (manila colour is good).
~ Include a #10, SASE, if you only wish a reply by letter. If you want your complete manuscript returned, enclose the same sized envelope (e.g. 9 x 12) with sufficient postage for return.
~ Do not send by registered mail. Use regular, priority or first class mail.
We will go more in depth on email submission in another post. The important thing to remember when submitting a manuscript is that you want to appear professional, knowledgeable, and as an experienced author. Come off sounding cheesy and amateurish and your manuscript won’t be read as they will figure you are an incompetent writer.