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Sunday, April 28, 2019

Basics of Submitting

A number of you have requested this list (somewhat buried in a very long post about publishing) be given its own page for easier reference. Remember to follow the guidelines of the publisher/agent/whatever that you are submitting to ABOVE ALL THINGS. If they contradict any of this, go with what they tell you. If they add in a dozen things, add those things. If they tell you to align to the right and put a stamp of a monkey on every page, your next stop is Google to find out where to get monkey stamps "near me."


  • EVERY. SINGLE. PAGE. should have your last name, the title (or one word from your title if it's long), and the page number on it in the top-right header (within the margin). If there's an alteration to this in the submission guidelines, consider it the most important piece of information you could possibly pay attention to. Having worked with people on the "gatekeeper" side of the industry, trust me when I tell you that not numbering and labeling all of your pages is the fastest way to get your shit thrown in the garbage. (After all, why start a professional relationship with someone whose "Sunday Best" behavior demonstrates that they can't follow basic instructions?)
  • Your title page should include the title of the work, the word count, copyright info (if there is any yet), your agent's name, and your contact details. Don't get cute with the font sizes on this. It should basically all be the same size–-12 pt.
  • Have a margin on each side. Whatever is done automatically by a word document when you open one is fine. (1 inch or 3cm if you're doing it by hand for some reason.)
  • In English, align to the left. 
  • If you want to look like a consummate professional, use italics and never underline. Although that one isn't likely to make or break a rejection/approval.
  • Indent new paragraphs (don't skip a line and don't indent AND skip a line––just indent). The exception to this is the first paragraph of a new chapter or section. That one should start at the left margin.
  • Use twelve point Times New Roman and only black type. (You can usually use a couple of others like Courier and Arial, but TNR will never be wrong.) 
  • Double space. 
  • Lines between paragraphs probably won't be a deal breaker, but you don't need them and they will be taken out for your ARCs. Just indent to show paragraphs.
  • Same with double spaces after sentences. It won't make or break you, but the industry has shifted to single space.
  • Begin chapters on new pages. It is more important that you be consistent with chapter headings than how you align them, but if you want a by-the-book submission, align to the center.
  • It doesn't really matter how many spaces you skip between the chapter header and the start of the chapter, but keep it consistent and don't do only one space or more than, like, ten.
  • (You may hear some other stuff like how to put a hashtag with a line at the end. It's not wrong, but it's a lot less important.)
  • And not that this has balls all to do with formatting or matters much in the age of computers, but always always ALWAYS keep a copy of some kind for yourself. You will never get back the one you send.

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