Dragonlords of Dumnonia

Scriptorium

Manuscript Format

(Revised 12/16/98)

Here is the format I use for submissions. It's adapted in part from the 1994 Writer's Market. Seriously consider purchasing the most recent copy of Writer's Market for your own reference collection; it's the best handbook for writers I've ever run across.

General Presentation

  1. Do not use a cover sheet or separate title page. Most editors will complain about you wasting paper if you do. You do not want to do anything that is going to irritate an editor.
  2. Do not place your MS in a binder unless it is a television or movie script. For television and movie scripts, use ACCO brad folders, preferably in black.
  3. For articles and long poems, use a paper clip to hold pages together. DO NOT USE STAPLES.
  4. Set 1-1/2" margins on all sides of every page of the MS. Use your white space! It's one of the most valuable assets you have. (See Writing Tips for more details.)

Specifics for Books, Articles, Short Stories, and Poetry

(Movies and television use very specific formats. Consult any reputable "how-to" book for the details; I happen to like Michael Hague's Writing Screenplays that Sell.)

  1. On the upper-left corner of the first page, type the following in single-spaced format:
    1. Your full name. This is your real name. Pseudonyms should only appear on the by-line.
    2. Your address.
    3. Your phone number. This is your voice line. If you have a FAX number, you might want to include that as well.
    4. Your Social Security number. Advice goes both ways on whether or not to include this. You may leave it off since, if you make the sale, the press will be asking you for it anyway. The decision is up to you.
    5. Your e-mail address. Not every press has e-mail capability yet, but most of them are gearing up for it. E-mail correspondence saves a ton on postage and really speeds up communication during the publishing process.
  2. On the upper-right corner of the first page, type the following in single-spaced format:
    1. Word Count. Estimate if you must, but most spell-checks and word processing programs offer an exact word count. Use that if you have a choice.
    2. The type of rights that you are offering for sale (OMIT this line for book MSS.). It's a good idea to check what type of rights the publisher buys. You want to offer what the publisher wants to buy.
    3. Your copyright notice: ©1994 L.A. Malcor. If your computer does not have the copyright symbol, you can draw it in by hand. But most common word processing programs do offer the symbol as an insert.
  3. Double space everything else in your manuscript after this point. (For poetry, single space in the body, double space between stanzas.)
  4. Do not number the first page.
  5. On every page after the first page have a header that includes the following in the upper-left corner:
    1. A shortened form of the title, followed by a comma
    2. After the comma, put your last name. If you are using a pseudonym, type your real last name with the last name of the pseudonym in parentheses. This is so the press can keep all the pages of your MSS together in the event an editor's desk has a landslide or similar disaster <g>.
  6. On every page after the first page have a header that includes the page number in the upper-right corner.
  7. Center the title in capital letters 1/3 of the way down the page (3.7").
  8. Type "by" centered one double-space below your title.
  9. Type your name or pseudonym one double-space below "by."
  10. Drop two double-spaces, paragraph indent, and start typing your MS. (Use five-space paragraph indents.)
  11. For novels, leave the top one-third (roughly 3.7") of the first page of each chapter blank before typing the chapter title. Type only one poem per page when submitting a poetry MS.
  12. For long poems, you may wish to type "continued" at the bottom right of each page that precedes the final page of the poem so someone won't assume that your poem ends at the bottom of the first page.

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