How to Format a Fiction Manuscript
You have completed your work of fiction. You have written the perfect query. You have even received the much requested positive response from an agent / publisher and now an agent / publisher is going to read your manuscript. But how do you format it? Here are some simple steps to help you identify yourself as someone who has an idea of what you are doing:
1) Everything must be double spaced. Although you can argue that this is a waste of paper / space / and whatever else you decide to argue, the agent / publisher wants it double-spaced. They read too many pages of too many manuscripts and double spacing is easier to read; Not to mention, it’s easier to take notes.
2) Use a 12 point font. This is also not negotiable. The agent / publisher doesn’t want to have to squint to read a manuscript, and if they have to, they are probably already upset with whoever wrote it.
3) Use Times New Roman or Courier fonts. These are easy to read and give the agent / publisher an idea of how long your novel will last. Word count is part of this, but the length of the paragraphs can also affect the overall pages your novel will need.
4) There should only be one space at the beginning of each sentence. Paragraphs should be tabbed or default to .5 in. You should never leave spaces in your indents.
5) Make sure you have a header. The header should be in the format t with your last name / first words of the title on the left and the page number on the far right (SAMPLE / BEST NOVEL 1)
6) Chapter titles should be in the center of the page, with the same font and size, in capital letters. This is somewhat negotiable, but it is the most commonly accepted formatting method.
7) You should also include a title page. This is one of the most important pieces of the manuscript since they will know how to contact you in response. The title page should have the following information: title of the work, your name, address, phone number, email address and / or website, and the total number of words of the work. The format of the title pages is somewhat negotiable as long as all the information is present and the title appears in the center of the page (in normal font size, nothing fancy).
8) If you print your pages, make sure they are all clean and neat. Don’t send rejected pages to more than one agent. Make sure everything you send looks professional (pink paper is unprofessional).
9) If you send an email, first make sure they accept your document as an attachment. Second, name your file with your last name, part of the title and, if partial, the number of pages with the word “partial”. This will help distinguish your document from the hundreds of others that the agent / publisher already has on their computer.