When you’re ready to send out your manuscript to a likely agent or publisher, it’s important to follow the industry standard for your document’s layout. Here is a quick introduction. A Google search on manuscript formatting will score a plethora of more-detailed instructions.
- Check the requirements of the agent or publisher, usually included on their website for submissions. Comply with them.
- Basic formatting includes: use standard white A4 paper. type your manuscript using a simple font such as Courier or Times New Roman, usually 12 or 14pt, double spaced, with a minimum of 1-inch (2.5cm) margins on all four sides. Set the copy ragged right.
- Number each page. Single-sided printing only. Put your name and the story title in the header field on each page.
- Check your spelling. Check your grammar. Show that you know the basics of writing.
- Do not staple or otherwise bind the pages. Do not include gimmicks.
- Include a cover letter. This will have your name, the manuscript’s name, word count, and your contact details. It might also include a few lines of essential, attention-grabbing bio.
- Some publishers or agents will request a synopsis. These are a constant source of confusion. A general idea is that the synopsis is not a blow-by-blow description of your book. It’s more a blurb, such as you would find on the back of a book, aimed at presenting the key points of the story and making it sound interesting. It should not be very long. I like to keep them to a page, never more than two, but follow the guidelines of the agent or publisher. The same formatting rules apply as for the manuscript.
- If, for some reason, you want the manuscript returned, you’d need to include a stamped and self-addressed envelope. But ask yourself if it’s really worth the bother. You aren’t likely to get feedback or mark-up on a returned MS, it’s just adding an extra onerous task for the person who’s had to read it.
The basics: This Writing Business:
More explanation: A Quick Guide to Manuscript Format
Synopses explained: At Writing World.com