Manuscript Submission Do's and Don't

It really doesn’t matter if you are the next Jack Canfield or Steven Covey, if you don’t follow proper submission guidelines for your publisher or agent, your manuscript will go unread. While there are many tales of authors (J.K. Rowling, for instance) scribbling their work on restaurant napkins, when it came time to send their work to a publisher they typed it neatly and professionally. Every publisher may have slight differences in submission requirements, so take the time to individually check the websites of each publisher you plan to contact. But there are a few basics that every publisher wants to see.

Paper Submissions. Some publishers still prefer to receive paper submissions. If you are submitting a paper manuscript make sure that it is typed on clean, white 81/2 x 11 paper. Choose a font that is easy to read. Times New Roman may seem boring, but there’s a reason it is popular: it is one of the most easily read fonts available; use the 12 point font size and double space.

On the title page place your name, address, e-mail and telephone number in the top right corner. List the approximate word count just below it. Place the title and your byline in the center of the page.

For your manuscript pages, set your margins at 1.25 inches on all sides and place a one-line header on each page of the manuscript that includes your last name, the page number and the title of the work. If the title is long, you can just use a few of the key words in the header.  Also check just how many pages or chapters you are expected to submit for an initial inquiry. Once again, if you submit an entire manuscript to an editor who has only requested 10 pages, you are very likely to have it returned unread.

Electronic Submissions: These days, many publishers (ourselves included) prefer electronic submissions. The basic style guidelines, such as double-spaced lines, etc., apply to electronic submissions. But you must also be sure to submit your document in the preferred format. Once again, check with each publisher you plan to submit to, to find out exactly which formats they prefer.

Here are submission guidelines for Open Door Publications

  1. Manuscripts should be submitted electronically
  2. Manuscripts should only be submitted as a Word (.doc or docx) document.  Do not send PDF’s or other file types.
  3. All chapters, pages, etc., that you are submitting should be placed in one file marked with your last name and a keyword from the title.
  4. Use Times New Roman or Arial 12 point font.
  5. Use no more than one space between paragraphs or sections.
  6. Use no more than one space between sentences.

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