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Manuscript Submission Guidelines

Contributor: Quiller
Information from l996 Writer's Market (link and book info below)

Most manuscripts do not use a cover sheet or title page. Use a binder only if you are submitting a play or a television or movie script. Use a paper clip to hold pages together, not staples. The upper corners of the first page of an article manuscript contain important information about you and your manuscript. This information should be single-spaced. In the upper left corner list your name, address, phone number and Social Security number (publishers must have this to file accurate payment records with the government). If you are using a pseudonym for your byline, your legal name still must appear in this space. In the upper right corner, indicate the approximate word count of the manuscript, the rights you are offering for sale and your copyright notice ( 1999 John Smith). A handwritten copyright symbol is acceptable. For a book manuscript include the same information with the exception of rights. Do not number the first page of your manuscript.

Center the title in capital letters one-third of the way down the page. Set your typewriter (or word-processer paragraph formatting) to double-space. Type "by" centered one double-space under your title, and type your name or pseudonym centered one double-space beneath that. After the title and byline, drop down two double-spaces, paragraph indent, and begin the body of your manuscript. Always double-space your manuscript and use standard paragraph indentations of five spaces. Margins should be about 1-1/2 inches on all sides of each full page of typewritten manuscript.
On every page after the first, type your last name, a dash and the page number in either the upper left or right corner. The title of your manuscript may, butt need not, be typed on this line or beneath it. Page number two would read: Smith--2. Follow this format throughout your manuscript. (You can set up Word to do this automatically using the Header/Footer function from the menu bar -- experiment with settings and check them in Print Preview.)

If you are submitting novel chapters, leave the top one-third of the first page of each chapter blank before typing the chapter title. Subsequent pages should include the author's last name, the page number, and a shortened form of the book's title: Smith--2--Skating. (In a variation on this, some authors place the title before the name on the left side and put the page number on the right-hand margin.)

When submitting poetry, the poems should be typed single-spaced (double-space between stanzas), one poem per page. For a long poem requiring more than one page, paper clip the pages together. You may want to write "continued" at the bottom of the page, so if the pages are separated, editors, typesetters and proofreaders won't assume your poem ends at the bottom of the first page.


No matter what size manuscript you're mailing, always include sufficient return postage and a self-addressed envelope large enough to contain your manuscript if it is returned.

A manuscript of fewer than six pages may be folded in thirds and mailed as if it were a letter using a #10 (business-size) envelope. The enclosed SASE can be a #10 folded in thirds or a #9 envelope which will slip into the mailing envelope without being folded. Some editors also appreciate the convenience of having a manuscript folded into halves in a 6x9 envelope.

For manuscripts of six pages or longer, use 9x12 envelopes for both mailing and return. The return SASE may be folded in half.

A book manuscript should be mailed in a sturdy, well-wrapped box. Enclose a self-addressed mailing label and paper clip your return postage stamps or International Reply Coupons to the label.

If you don't want to mess with return postage problems, send the publisher a "disposable" manuscript. This can either be output from your computer on your home laser printer or inkjet, or you can take the professionally-typewritten manuscript, photocopy it nicely, and mail the photocopy. Enclose a letter explaining that the manuscript can be thrown away if unwanted, and request that they let you know their disposal decision on the self-addressed postcard you have also enclosed. These postcards come with the stamp printed on them and cost 20 cents each (last time I bought some).

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