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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Formatting Your Manuscript

28 August 2011, Formatting Your Manuscript

One great question is how do you format your manuscript for a publisher or for marketing.  I'll show and tell you how I format mine.  This information comes from many sources, but is the way it was done before computers.  I haven't found anyone to give a really different formatting style, and my publisher hasn't complained.  So, unless you find something better, I'd use this.  By the way, this is for a novel and not a nonfiction work, although the formatting is similar.

I don't have the first chapter of Aksinya up on its web page yet, but you can see an example of how I have already formatted the first chapter at this link:
The link above will take you to the first chapter of Warrior of Darkness

First Page Header
Note that on the first page, the title is in the header on the left side.  The chapter number is in the header on the right side.  Every first page of every chapter should look like this.  This way if the manuscript is printed and gets out of order, the chapter and title are obvious.  While the manuscript is on the computer, this allows the reader to immediately identify the work and chapter of the work.  I bold the title and chapter.

Subsequent Page Headers
If you look at the second and following pages of the chapter, you will see the basic header remains the same, but below the title, on the left side, is the author's last name and the page number.  I don't bold the last name or page number.  I do place a double dash between them.  If you set up the novel as chapter files in the outline view, you can easily get the page number in the header.  I don't advise writing your novels entirely in a single file, but if you do, this is easy too.  The reason for the last name is to identify the author on each page.  The Page numbers is for the reviewer/editor/publisher to keep track of the pages.

Subsequent Chapters
The next chapter is two.  You can do this in Word by having each chapter be a new section and listing the section as the chapter.  There are some other ways of doing this, but this is the way I do it.  The header format is the same for each chapter. 

First Page of the Manuscript
Don't include anything except the manuscript.  It should not have a title page, a thanks page, an attribution, a dedication, an author's prolog, or anything except the first page of the actual novel.  All that other stuff comes later.  Don't put anything extraneous in this copy.

The author's information goes on the left.  Give your real name, your address, email, and phone number.

The novel information goes on the right.  This used to be the copyright information and the word count.  Now-a-days the word count is all you need.  Use the word count of the entire novel.  The copyright is implied and unnecessary unless you really have one.  The author and novel information is single spaced.

Move down a few lines and put the title and the "by-line."  Use your pen name--if you have one.  This is the name you want on the manuscript when it is printed.

First Line
Move down a few more lines and start the text of the novel.

This is the way to format the novel for marketing.  When you send it or parts of it away, the only thing you need is the cover letter and/or the publisher's requested cover.  Many publishers have a requested cover they want to see with the manuscript.  I'll talk about that more when we get to marketing materials.

Notice, I mentioned that Aksinya already has its own website.  I'll discuss that tomorrow.

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