Thursday, February 11, 2010

Newbie Question #17

17. What should my manuscript look like?

There's a lot of debate about this (much more than you'd expect, and people can get really wound up about it.) HOWEVER, it is my contention that knowing manuscript format *is* the very secret handshake that everyone is looking for.

Science fiction author Vonda N. McIntyre has made you a lovely .pdf in manuscript format that explains manuscript format. People like to argue about this. Do I have to? Courier is ugly! So and so says I can send it however I like on their website. To which my answer is always: suck it up and send it in manuscript format. If nothing else, sending it the "old-fashioned" way shows that you're at least familiar enough with the business of writing to have stumbled across the way everyone used to do it.

The exception being in those rare cases when you're writing for a specific market (I'm thinking of an electronic magazine, like weekly science fiction magazine, Strange Horizons,) which may have it's own rules. In those cases, do what they say.

I confess that I don't much like the way Courier 12 pt, double-space looks either. So I write the book in whatever my current favorite font is (Georgia) -- single space (because it looks more like a book to me, and I just find it more attractive. I've got to stare at it for months, after all). Then, just before I send it in to the publisher I switch over to Courier 12 pt, double-space.

This is one really simple thing you can do to look professional. Why not just do it?

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