In addition to my Editor in Chief (Editorial Director) hat, I do wear another hat. Yeah, I know, like I’m not busy enough lol! Anyway, while wearing that hat I always seem to come up with some “Kris hints to authors” and for this week’s blog, I’m combining a few of them. So…here are my hints regarding making your manuscript “pretty” before you hit send on that submission.
Are you ready? It’s going to be really technical. Okay?
DON’T! That’s right, don’t!
First, when you take all that time to change the fonts or add pretty graphics or use font size 14pt or add a blank paragraph return after every paragraph or tab every paragraph, it does nothing except aggravate someone down the road…namely the formatter of your manuscript.
Second, each house has their submission guidelines (I know I’ve mentioned those a time or two before). Somewhere in those guidelines, I’d guess about 99% of the publishers list HOW they’d like to see your manuscript. They list a font, a font size, sometime the spacing and what format to send the manuscript in. Those are pretty good guidelines to look at. I know when I start working on a new manuscript, most times, I’ll go through and strip out the “fluff” formatting before I start working on it.
Now, if you’re self-publishing your masterpiece and not sending it to a professional editor? Have at it. Just remember that all those things will detract from the main point of your manuscript – you want to entertain and tell a good story.
My basic recommendations for what to use, no matter where you’re sending your manuscript:
Font and size: Times New Roman, 12pt – you can’t go wrong with this basic font and size
For section breaks: three asterisks or hash tags centered work just fine.
Paragraph spacing: set your default paragraph style (https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Style-basics-in-Word-d382f84d-5c38-4444-98a5-9cbb6ede1ba4 gives you a bit about setting styles in Word) to the following settings (see the screen capture) by right-clicking on “Normal” on the Home ribbon, choosing “modify” then the dropdown arrow to “paragraph”. Do not put a blank paragraph return after each paragraph (they’ll have to be stripped out at some point).
Save your creativity for your characters, world building, and story lines.