I’d never leave the house without lippy, my hair uncombed or my clothes unironed. So why would I post a manuscript proposal without checking if I’ve laid it out correctly?
Presentation is everything when it comes to sending out your precious novel to prospective publishers or agents. Why spend ages writing the darn thing, if you can’t spend a little more time researching how to represent it?
First and foremost you need a title page: your name, contact address, phone number and email address. Add your website/blog too if it showcases your work, otherwise don’t bother. Then the name of your book and its word count. Nothing elaborate; no fancy font like Webdings or humongous sized words. Times New Roman point 12 is preferred by every publisher/agent I’ve ever been in contact, so stick with that.
Your ms should be double spaced with generous margins all round (at least 1 to 1.5 inches). This is in case it does get accepted, and the publisher needs to make notes on it).
Use good quality CLEAN white paper. It doesn’t have to be expensive. If the ink cartridge needs replacing do it now, and only use ONE side of the paper. Pages should be numbered from one through to the end. And don’t forget to include your name or title (or both) in the header or footer.
Justifying looks pretty, but DON’T DO IT! The publisher won’t thank you for it, I assure you.
Don’t include acknowledgments, that comes later once you’ve been accepted.
Include a SAE when sending and use a new, or reasonably new jiffy bag, and make sure you are sending your ms to someone who deals with that genre. It’s such a waste of postage if you send a sci-fi to someone who only deals with crime. So do your research.
Inside the jiffy bag you should have a short synopsis (no more than two pages), a covering/query letter and the first three or four chapters of your novel (check submission guidelines). That’s it. Do not bind them together. If you feel the need, an ordinary elastic band will do.
It will help if you can address the envelope to the correct department, too. Not just ‘To the Editor’, find out the actual name.
1. Title page – contact details, name of novel and word count.
2. Type ONE side of page only.
3. Number pages from one through to the end.
4. DO NOT justify.
5. No acknowledgments.
6. Name/title in header.
7. New Times Roman point 12 ONLY.8. Do not bind your MS together.
9. Clean jiffy bag, short sharp synopsis and cover letter.
10. STAMPED ADDRESS ENVELOPE.