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Ten Top Tips for Presenting a Perfect Manuscript

December 9th, 2013

Good writing goes a long way to helping you get published, but before the editor even reads your work, you’ve got to impress him with your presentation. You could have written the next blockbuster novel, but if you present it hand-written, on a scruffy A4 lined pad, it’s likely that the editor will take one look and throw it on the slush pile, without even reading it. That would be a real shame, as all your hard work would be for nothing! So, follow the top tips below to present your manuscript properly.

1. Under no circumstances send hand-written manuscripts, they’ll simply be rejected without even being read. If you can’t or don’t know how to word process, please try to get someone else to do it for you or you risk your hard work being for nothing. And don’t think that just because you’ve written a great story it’ll not matter that it’s hand-written, it will. The editor won’t know it’s a great story because he won’t even read it!

2. Whether sending by email or on paper, use a plain font like Times New Roman, which is professional, easy to read and preferred by many editors. Avoid fonts like Courier (which looks old fashioned) and most sans-serif fonts because they can be more difficult to read. Never use fancy, cursive fonts – nothing is more off-putting for an editor. A font size of 12 is usually about right as it is neither too big nor too small.

3. Most people send their manuscripts by email these days, but if you choose to send yours the old fashioned way, on paper, you should use good quality A4 white paper (not coloured). 80g is ideal. Make sure your paper is white too, no fancy patterns or coloured paper – it won’t make your submission stand out, well, actually it might, but for all the wrong reasons!

4. If you send your work on paper, ALWAYS use double line spacing and leave decent margins (usually an inch and a half – certainly not less than an inch) at the top, bottom and both sides of the page. If you’re sending your work by email, it’s not so important, as it can easily be changed to double spacing if that’s what’s required. If it doesn’t state single or double spacing for email submissions in the guidelines and you are unsure what to do, you can always contact the publication and ask.

5. If you chose to indent your work, leave between five and 10 spaces at the start of the first line of each new paragraph. There is no need to use additional blank lines between paragraphs. If you choose not to indent, and use block layout instead, then you should leave an extra line between paragraphs.

6. At the top left hand corner of the first sheet give your name, address, telephone number, email address and the date. At the top right give your work a single word ‘catchline’ based on what the work is about. For example, an article about celebrity could have the catchline ‘Fame’. The first page would be ‘Fame 1’ and subsequent pages ‘Fame 2’, ‘Fame 3’, and so on. Then, type the title of your article and your byline (name or pseudonym) in a central position across the page about a third of the way down, now start to type your article.

7. Always put ‘mf’ or ‘more follows’ at the bottom of each page. On the final page type ‘end’ or ‘endit’ to show that the work is finished. Make sure you number each page to prevent pages getting lost if you choose to send your work hard copy.

8. If you are sending your work by post always attach a cover sheet. This looks professional and prevents the front page of your manuscript from getting grubby. The cover sheet should have all your contact details on it, the date and what rights you are offering. In the centre of the page you should give the title of the article, the word length of your manuscript, which is essential, and your name.

9. There is no excuse for errors on your manuscript. Proofread your work carefully before you send it out to ensure that you have eliminated any typing, spelling or punctuation errors. Remember, editors don’t want to spend time getting writing they receive ready for publication, so give them as little work to do as possible.

10. Finally, when sending work by post always include a sae – stamped, (self) addressed envelope – so that the editor can return it to you if they don’t wish to use it. Obviously, if you send work by email you save on this expense.

 

 

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