Preparing a Manuscript for Submission

The cover page and the body of the novel

The first sentence is the most powerful. The best blurb is the shortest and the most succinct. The greatest query letter grabs you by the collar and shakes, hard. Preparing a manuscript for submission is probably the most nerve wracking experience there is, next to waiting several months for an answer.

Having worked in acquisitions, I can tell you that your submission will be thrown out the window—figuratively and perhaps literally—if you do not exert a degree of professionalism. The following are general guidelines for your manuscript. I will discuss blurbs, the synopsis, and the query letter in other posts.

Rather than follow these to the letter, make sure that you carefully review the publisher’s guidelines before submitting your manuscript.

Remember to:

Double-space your submission.

Use font size 10 or 12. You don’t want it to be too small or too big.

Make sure that you have a proper cover page.

The pages should be numbered: page numbers on the bottom right is fine.

The font should be readable, either Times New Roman or Calibri. I prefer Times New Roman.


Do not use any fancy fonts. It may look good to you, but the publisher will not like it.

Your cover page is just a cover page: it doesn’t have to be gorgeous. No images, no fancy fonts, no pretty colors.

The “no fancy fonts” rule also applies to chapter or section headings. Cursive may fit your Romance novel, but let the publisher decide how they want the font in accordance with how they print their books or release e-books.

Generally, a section break is indicated with ***. This is subject to change depending on the publisher. Just don’t use anything else. Some examples of what not to do include:
+ + +
~ ~ ~
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Simplicity and professionalism is key.

How do I make a cover page?

The first page of your manuscript should be your cover page. Use a page break to make a nice blank page before your first chapter. In the top left hand corner of the blank page, input the following information in size twelve or size ten font, depending on the font size you use throughout the book.

Pen name:
Phone number:
Email address:

Toward the middle of the page, input the title and your name (or the name you are publishing under). When I prepared Taking 1960 for submission to publishers, I kept all this information left-aligned. You want everything to be simple, basic, and to the point.

To sum it up:

Simplicity is key

Always follow publisher guidelines

Every publishing house is different

Most importantly: Be professional in your presentation!


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