Submitting your newly completed novel to a publisher can be a scary prospect. But knowing how to make sure you have a professional-looking manuscript is one step in the right direction to getting a contract.
When submitting your novel to a publisher or agent, you want to give it your best shot, so make sure their first impression is a good one. For a busy publisher, a messy manuscript can indicate a messy story, and you don’t want to put them off from the start.
Usually we never take much notice of the style and order of the pages that come before and after the main text in a book. But if we want to self-publish our own book, we need to know how to do this, and that can be confusing and overwhelming. Getting it right will help your book look professional and credible.
This is a basic guide to all the pages you can have in both a fiction or non-fiction book. There are some variations in house styles, though they are all very similar. The description below is based on the New Oxford Style Manual.
As an author, you want to show your best work when you take your manuscript to a publisher or agent. Your story may be the next best seller, but to be noticed among the masses, it may help to have tidy manuscript - every detail counts. There are several formatting errors that many writers make when using Microsoft Word which are an easy fix if you know how.
Below are several common errors and how to fix them. Some of the errors are made as a result of the way things were taught in school and the remnants from days of typewriters, some are made as conventions have changed over the years and some are made just because.
Whether you are writing a novel, a business document or an academic paper, using Styles in your Microsoft Word document is the best and most time-efficient way to make a document look neat and consistent. The Styles 'codes' are applied to the various parts of the document for quick navigation and formatting.
Using Word Styles means that all headings, text and spacing are consistent throughout the document, and any formatting change made on one page is automatically reflected in the rest of the document. The most exciting part at the end is making a table of contents with just a few clicks!
Here are some basic, step-by-step instructions for adding Word Styles to your document. It can get a lot more complex, but this is a start which will make your document look tidier and more professional.
For many of my clients it is the first time they have hired an editor to have their writing proofread or copy-edited. Often they have never used or even heard of the Tracked Changes function in Word.
The Tracked Changes function is an editor’s best friend, but many people get a surprise when they get their document back with red and blue lines through it and are not sure what to do next. If you are one of these people, this is for you.
Marja Stack is a copy-editor and proofreader based in New Zealand. Her business, Clearlingo Editing and Proofreading, caters to all writers of fiction or non-fiction books. For more information or enquiries for how she can help you make your book shine, please see her website: www.clearlingo.co.nz.
New Zealand English Series
*NZE: hyphens, en dashes and em dashes
*NZE: How to write times and dates
*NZE: Is our spelling different?
*NZE: Burned vs Burnt
*NZE: Using Maori words in English text
*NZE: -ise vs -ize endings
*NZE: Single or double quote marks
*NZE: Punctuation inside or outside quotation marks?
The Editing Process
*Types of editing
*5 things to tell your editor
*The revision and editing process
*What are beta readers?
*What to expect when you get your manuscript back
*How to order the pages of a book
*Fact checking fiction writing
*Formatting your manuscript for submission
*How long does it take to edit a book?
*How to use Tracked Changes in Word
*How to use basic Word Styles
*How to fix common formatting errors in Word