Preparing Your Manuscript for Submission to Publishers

How To Publish A Manuscript ?

One of the questions most often asked by aspiring writers is how to properly prepare a manuscript for submission to publishers. It’s not hard, but there are some rules you do need to follow:

Use only white bond paper, minimum 20 lb. weight. Do not use erasable or colored bond paper. Now is not the time to “think pink,” hoping it will attract attention to your manuscript. It will — but not the kind of attention you want, since manuscripts written on colored paper are invariably returned unread to their authors by publishers.

Set your margins at one inch all the way around each page.

Choose an easy-to-read typeface. The most-common typeface employed by romance writers is Courier 12 pt. Courier is popular for word-count reasons that have now, however, been rendered obsolete by today’s wordprocessing programs, which count words accurately. Rebecca herself uses Times New Roman 12 pt., as she much prefers its printed appearance over that of Courier and finds it much easier to read and check for errors.

Some average word counts for today’s romance novels are:

Contemporary Categories: 55,000 – 85,000 words, depending on the line.

Mainstream Contemporaries: 90,000 – 150,000 words.

Historicals: 100,000 words.


Centered on your manuscript’s cover page, type your name, address, telephone number, fax number (if any), and email address. You may also put your manuscript’s copyright notice and approximate word count here, if you so desire.

In the upper left-hand corner of each subsequent page, type the title of your manuscript and your name and/or pseudonym.

In the upper right-hand corner of each subsequent page, type each new page number.

Drop down your page about halfway to start each new chapter, and label it as such, for example: Chapter One, Chapter Two, and so on.

Double space your entire manuscript. No publisher whatsoever will read a single-spaced manuscript.

Note all time breaks with three asterisks (* * *) or number signs (# # #) centered alone on a line between the last paragraph of the preceding section and the first paragraph of the subsequent section.

Use a spellchecker. There is no reason whatsoever — especially in this day and age — to submit a manuscript that is chock-full of spelling errors, and it won’t endear you to editors, either!

You do not need to type “The End,” “# # #,” or “30” on your manuscript’s final page unless you wish to do so. Rebecca does not. Instead, on her final page, she drops down to the bottom of the page and places her copyright notice and approximate word count there.

If possible, use a laser printer to print out your finished manuscript. If you do not have access to a laser printer, use a good, letter-quality printer. Most all publishers will not accept anything else.

Do not bind your manuscript pages together in any fashion whatsoever — this includes putting your pages in a three-ring notebook. Instead, place a large, sturdy rubberband around your entire manuscript to hold the loose pages together.

You may ship your manuscript to publishers in any number of ways…express mail, first-class mail, or fourth-class mail. If you want your manuscript sent back to you in the event that it is rejected by a publisher, enclose sufficient postage to ensure its return. Ship your manuscript in either an appropriately sized box or envelope. Rebecca’s ships her in a FedPak, via Federal Express.

If you submit your manuscript to more than one publisher at a time (multiple submissions), notify each publisher of same. Note: Except in the case of auctions conducted by agents, this practice is generally frowned on by publishers.

Enclose a cover letter with your manuscript, addressed by name to a specific editor at the publisher. Keep it short, businesslike, and to the point, listing your writing background and creditials (if any) and a brief summary of your manuscript’s basic premise. Do not make statements such as “This is the greatest novel you’ll ever read!”

Always keep a complete copy of your manuscript yourself.

You do not need to register your manuscript with the Library of Congress. Under the current copyright law, a proper copyright notice on your manuscript alone is sufficient for your protection, for example: Copyright © 2001 by Your Name. All rights reserved.

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