Formatting Your Manuscript for Agent / Editor Submission

MS Word for Writers BONUS: Formatting Your Manuscript for Agent Submission
20 minutes
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All right, now that you have so many tips and tricks and tools in your tool belt as a writer, we're going to talk about how to easily format your manuscript when you're ready to send it off to an agent or editor. So, first thing to keep in mind, I want you to format this on standard paper sizes for your area. So in the US, for us, that's eight and a half by 11 letter size page. Don't do anything crazy on your layout tab there with size. Also in the margins area. Again, you want to keep it not crazy, standard one inch margins all the way around.

We want to make this document look and feel like a professional manuscript because these agents and editors, if anything feels off to them, chances are good, it might hit the trash. And it might even be a gatekeeper before it gets to your agent or editor. So you want to be sure and really double check That you have met all of the guidelines that they put out for you. So also, above and beyond what I'm recommending here, lay hands on a copy of the book. It's an annual release from writers market, that is the guide to all of the agents and editors who are accepting submissions, and double check in their listing and perhaps on their website as well, exactly the requirements they have for manuscript submission, I'm going to be showing you some very standard ones, but double check with that entry just to be sure that we're gonna have one inch margins all the way around, and portrait shaped orientation there.

Alright, so at the top of a title page, I want you to add your first and last name there at the top. And you can do a quick and dirty tab across to add your word count here at the right. Or you can use one of the great skills that we learned in class of setting a right aligned tasks. So that the word count will sit just inside that margin. And if you want to review that with me, we're going to go on the Home tab to the paragraph area to the More button in the corner to the bottom of the dialog box to tabs. And we're going to set ourselves right here at the margin is six and a half inches.

So we're going to set a tab stop at six and a half inches, that's a right aligned, this means all the texts will come flush to the right and then stop. So the end of our line of word count will be there, it will have no leader dots, and we're going to go ahead and set that tab. Now, you'll notice my cursor came out here to the right when I tapped, I can see on the ruler, that right hand tab is there. And now when I type the word count that I want to share with the agent and author there. This book is eventually going to weigh in at right around 65,000 words I'll be ready to come Come down to the new line and add my address. So we're going to have street address on the next line, followed by city, state, and zip if you live in the US, and you could potentially add your phone number, oops, money signs, yes, there's my 14 slip for the day or an email address so that the editor or agent has all the contact information for you.

And we're going to single space this title page so that there's not all that big gobs of extra space in between. And more importantly, we're going to remove the space after paragraph. So I can actually leave it on at 1.15. That doesn't bother me, but what was really getting me was that space added after every hard return, so there that might look much nicer to your eyes as it does to mine. And the polishing touch we're going to add to this now is to come down a bit on your screen, you may choose to do it with hard returns. Or if you want to really utilize some of the skills that we've got simply come down to a new line, come across to layout, and add space before your paragraph to bring you down around the center of the sheet of paper and come into center this next part because we're going to type here, the manuscripts title.

And then on a new line that follows. If you've done my little trick of adding space, you'll have to go back to the Layout tab and then remove it on for the next line that follows. You're going to type your author name, and in this one instance, I'll allow you to use the phrase by inference Have this and we might italicize it just to show the difference between the title and the author name, but nothing more fancy than that. That's the extent of this. I will caution later when we're formatting our books for independent print or self publishing, not to use by on your title pages or your book covers. But on a manuscript submission for an editor.

It's perfectly nice. So the content you want to have on your title page, again, includes your full name, and contact information in the top left, the word count of your document in the top right, your manuscripts title, and your author or pen name, if you're writing under a pen name that would be different than the contact name for you here. Okay, as we roll forward. Now, this is going to take us to the main part of our document. And we're just going to remove any blank lines that might be in there. Perhaps you've already used Heading One for your chapter titles.

Most of the time agents will not expect to this but they will like to see distinction at the beginning of each chapter. So you can either center that chapter name or have it left aligned and be bold in some way, just so that they can quickly and easily flip through the stack of papers. If they're reading it that way, or on the screen, scroll up and down quickly to see how long each of your chapters are. Now, if you're writing fiction, we mentioned this in an earlier video. The standard is to use first line indent so that each paragraph is indented and in agents, editors submissions, go ahead and use that standard half inch first line indent because on an eight and a half by 11 paper, that's the spacing that's going to set it apart there. But if you've already done this in the first place, In dense, you'll still need to do another step.

And there are a couple of ways you can do it. If you have your document and you haven't done any formatting yet in terms of the style menu, you'll want to select all the text in your chapter. And on the paragraph area, you want to set this to double space. This is very important. Your agents and editors will expect to receive their manuscripts double spaced. So that is one way that you can do it.

Or if however, you've used style settings, as we coached in an earlier video, I'm just going to use the Undo feature up here Ctrl Z to set it back. You can change normal. So head to your style section because my chapter one text is all in normal format. And we're going to right click Modify. And do you remember where we do the line spacing It's down here in the lower left hand corner on the Format button. We're going to select that from paragraph.

And this is the spot where we can affect both that indent level the first line, half inch indent, as well as our line spacing, we're going to choose double spaced, and then click OK. And the joy of using this, if you've already set up your styles once is that it will affect all of the normal base style text throughout your document, not just in a given selection area. So you'll see in my chapter two, it already went ahead and double spaced it because all of this text is again set to that normal style setting. So all these tips and tricks you've been learning throughout this course are now starting to come together to help you save time. Now, one thing I really want you to be certain of is that in between chapters, you have inserted a page break so that you don't just scroll from chapter one enroll right into chapter two.

If you have it that way, you're going to want to go to the Layout tab to the breaks area here. And at this point, it won't matter if you're doing a page break, or a section break. The reason to do section break next page break would be if you think you're going to be formatting your book later on, to self publish or independently publish. The next page section breaks will allow you more fluidity in terms of how you deal with headers and footers, if you're going to have any of them vary between intentionally blank pages, first chapter, first pages, and then odd and even numbered pages, maybe you want to have different items contained in the header there. So either way, you can choose at this point, any old garden variety of page breaks just so that each chapter now begins on its own page. A couple of other quick things, I want to point out, it would be wise if you used a font choice that your agent prefers.

So if you haven't checked in the readers writers guide to see your agents preferences, I would strongly suggest modifying your normal or going through in your selection and using one called Times New Roman. This has been the standard for many, many years. For for agents and author submissions as a publisher and printing person, there are fonts that I prefer to this one. But this is standard for this neck of the woods and this part of the game. So setting your text, the main text, not the chapter headers, but the main text of the body, two times new roman 12 point and in this case, left justified we're not going to go full justification on a manuscript submission These folks are probably more interested in reading left justified at this point of the game. And I also want you to make sure that your text is set to black, full black, not any of these gray scale variations, because on the off chance that your reader is going to be printing this out, you'd like it to appear as crisp and easy to read as possible.

So make sure that you've set the text to appear in black. Alright, and finally, it will be helpful if you go ahead and use that find replace, if you think you may have spots where you've used two spaces between sentences, go ahead and use your find replace to look for spots that have two spaces, and you're going to replace it with just one space. And then go ahead and replace that throughout your document so that your sentences are closer together and reading in the modern style. Now that Today's publishers use. Alright, one thing left to go, we're going to add some page numbers. So I'm going to come back up to the beginning of chapter one here, I'm going to pop in, in my case, I'm going to put it in the footer, but I believe it's okay if you choose the header instead, just be consistent to yourself.

And I am going to notice I double click to get into my footer area, you could have gone to insert footer, that's another option. But hopefully you remember and start to cue into some of these more efficient tools you can use to get around. So I double clicked into the footer area, and the Design tab opened for me. And I'm going to visit page numbers, bottom of the page, and I'm going to select centered. Actually, I think this time, I'm going to do a left aligned page number because I would like to put my office name so that appears at the bottom of every page. And notice how when compared to the main body of the text, this footer is indented, I want you to go and delete that.

So that if you're using left aligned, it's truly left aligned. If you center make it be truly centered, but before indented and then centered, it's going to be a little bit off to the right farther than it should be. So just double check that you've got all of those pieces in place. And then, oh, let's do it most efficiently. No damage. Don't be silly.

All right on that header and footer design tab, you can just quickly scroll through your document to make sure that the page numbers appear throughout. And what I noticed when I get to the beginning of the next section, is that the different first page feature is clicked on and that's one of the reasons why my Hello, my footer is not carrying through even though it's linked to previous, I want to, in this case unclick that different first page because it was not applying my footer on that first page. So link to previous, I see the footer, but the page number darnit, the page number is set to zero. Do you remember how to reset that so it will be a continuous roll of page numbers. All right, right here on the Design tab still, on the left, go back to page number, but this time, scroll down to format page numbers.

And here's where the culprit is. At the bottom. We're going to not start each new section at zero but rather continue from the previous section. And we'll click OK. So that now that page number stays sequential throughout and then you can just click next throughout your footers, and if it doesn't show up, maybe you need to unclick that different first page. And if you're terribly unlucky, you may have to go back and reset at each new section to reset to make sure that the page number continues, but just go throughout your document all the way to the bitter end.

And then double check at the end again, go through the whole document, make sure that you have your title page, that all the information is contained there, that you have your opening page that your chapters are set apart in some easy way to construe that. If you're writing fiction, your text is indented half an inch and there's double spaced line spacing but no extra space between the paragraphs. I'll come back in just a moment and cover how to format for nonfiction that you're using left aligned so we have flat left edge here, but a right ragged edge. This is most common in submissions of the state. That you have a page number included somewhere either in the header or the footer of each page throughout. And that you have added page breaks between your chapters to make it easy for the reader to determine when a chapter begins and ends.

All right, before I wrap this up and show you how to save this and send it off. One final quick note for those authors of nonfiction, you'll have to bear with me because the text is thoroughly fiction on this screen, but we're going to format it as if it were non fiction. So you can accomplish this either using the old school method of selecting the text by hand and making changes here in the paragraph area. One by one, or using your style setting, right click and modify and make the choices here where instead of on your form Paragraph area. Instead of a first line indent, we want no indent. But we're going to add six points of space.

After each line break each paragraph break, excuse me. So again for nonfiction, no indent, but six points of space between paragraphs. Then we click OK. And OK. And very quickly, you'll see our paragraphs are now uninvented our extra space appears here, between the paragraphs, but we're still double spaced. Makes sense? All right, that's how you format for nonfiction in a box. You may want to use heading twos if you have header text defining subsections of each chapter that would allow the text to pop out, but again, just be sure to set it to black I want to go in on my header ones, and right click Modify and change that color to black.

So that I'm fitting the standards of what my agent or editor might expect what all those expectations they already have in their head. I want to meet those or exceed those right off the bat. Now, you're ready to save your file to go. So, one last finishing touch we're going to file save as and callow carry is the working title of my book. It's the Greek word for summer, but I'm going to change this two Greek summer, just to be easy. You will want to use that finish title for your book.

And then perhaps you'll include your author name here, as well. You might choose to separate it with a dash or you might choose to identify the title of your book in all caps. Either way, make Get easy to understand so that the name of your file communicates easily to someone what document they're receiving. Maybe if you have a really long title, you might want to just abbreviate that and use one or two words in this, but go ahead and then save the document somewhere where you know where it's at. So, either in the Documents folder in a folder that you've created inside of that, or perhaps anywhere else within your PC, or on your OneDrive in your cloud computing software. Or maybe you've been saving to an external hard drive or a flash drive, know where you've put this document, and make sure that the title of it is distinctive, so that when you pull it out, you're not accidentally emailing an older version of your file.

Good wishes to you and I hope all the best for you and your writing and the eventual birth of your book.

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