Technical Aspects of Manuscript Writing for First-Time Authors

Are you struggling with the technical aspects of manuscript writing?

Every first-time writer has doubts and sometimes fears about the technical aspects of manuscript writing, especially if you are not working with a writing mentor. To relieve some of your anxiety about wondering if you’re “doing it right,” this post includes several specific rules for formatting a manuscript that you should find helpful. Properly formatting a manuscript and having a professional editor review it are two of the most important elements every author must keep as top priorities in the world of publishing.

Technical aspects of manuscript writing for first-time authors

You can certainly find help online, but you can also get lost in all the clutter of information, some of which is inaccurate and not applicable to your type of writing or submission goals. When you’re working with or searching for an agent to represent your story or nonfiction work, it’s imperative that you submit a manuscript that adheres to the professional guidelines already established by others who have gone before you.

According to a book entitled, Formatting and Submitting Your Manuscript, I found their guidelines to be on point and most helpful to first-time authors. Below is a short snippet of facts that you should print out and refer to before submitting a manuscript to an agent or an editor at a publisher.

Use a 1″ margin on all sides.
Use a title page, set up the same as the title page in your package.

Don’t number the title page. Begin numbering with the first page of the text of the book, usually the introduction, prologue, or chapter one.
Use a header on each page, including your name, the title of your novel in all caps, and the page number.
Start each new chapter on its own right-hand page, one-third of the way down the page.
The chapter number and chapter title should be in all caps, separated by two hyphens: CHAPTER 1—THE BODY.
Begin the body of the chapter four to six lines below the chapter title.
Indent fives spaces for each new paragraph.
Double-space the entire text.
Use a standard font, 12-point type. Times New Roman, Arial, or Courier is fine.
Use 20-lb. bond paper.

Reasons why manuscripts get rejected

The number one reason most manuscripts get rejected is incorrect formatting. The second reason manuscripts get rejected is because the author did not have the manuscript professionally edited before submitting it.

For the most up-to-date formatting information, you can definitely rely on the Writer’s Market online and printed yearly publication. Believe me, for the low online price of having a yearly subscription, you can find information about formatting, submitting a manuscript, finding an agent, and you will have a current roster of all the publishers and agents accepting new authors.

Remember, WordsRU has professional editors ready to proofread and edit your manuscript. When publishing a book that sells is in your future, trust your success in advance by hiring a proven editor. Above all, be sure to download the style guidelines and submission information from the publisher of your choice before even thinking about sending your manuscript out for potential acceptance.

You’ve worked hard on your book. Don’t eliminate the editing phase, if you want a successful response. WordsRU editors will point out any formatting errors, grammar errors, and they will most often fix any errors you make. Besides that, your editor will give you feedback on what is good, what needs work, and you will see short recommendations for any areas that you might need to rework to make it the best book it can be.

Do you have questions about how to format your manuscript? Leave us a comment.