Ready to submit your manuscript to a publisher or agent? First of all, not all publishers accept manuscripts directly from authors. None of the “Big Four” will accept them, but some of their subsidiaries will. So, start by visiting a publisher’s website. If you aren’t instructed to submit through a literary agent, you are likely to find a link to instructions about formatting and how to submit. If you don’t, here are some guidelines.

Featured imageSet up the page with one-inch margins on all sides and align all text to the left. Use black 12-point, Times New Roman for the font. A title page should be single spaced and contain your name and contact information at the top. Double space and insert the word count of your story. After that, include the genre of your writing and sub-genre if applicable. Halfway down the page, center the full title of your story. Double space and center your pen name after “By.” If you have an agent, you should list his or her name and contact information near the bottom of the page.

After the title page, you should insert a page header, right justified, to include your last name, your manuscript title and the page number.

Double space the lines and don’t use extra spaces between paragraphs. Your paragraphs should start with a half-inch indent which is the default in MS Word. Begin chapters on new pages. Center the chapter title and put it in all caps (CHAPTER 1 – FORMATTING) one-third of the way down the page. Skip two spaces and begin your text.

If you have scenes within your chapters, center a “#” symbol on an otherwise blank line between scenes. At the end of your story, simply center and write “The End.” If you are submitting hard copy, use 20-lb. bond paper.

It may look boring to you, but you don’t want your idea rejected because it wasn’t neat and uniform. Save your creativity for your writing.