It’s easy to overlook this basic area, but every little helps! (And editors/slush pile readers, who probably go home dreaming of piles of manuscripts, seem to get irritated about little things like this to a degree out of proportion to its importance in the real world.)
- Don’t think they will be impressed by fancy, heavy-gauge paper. It’s expensive, and they won’t.
- Ditto fancy fonts (except the expensive part). Stick to one of the basic ones like Times New Roman, Calibri etc. A font that stands out in its own right can even come across as being a wee bit pretentious – and in a funny way is often a sign that the writing itself won’t stand out.
- As ever, double space, one side of the paper.
- Don’t staple or otherwise fasten individual chapters together! It’s pointless and just makes more work for the reader.
- And especially don’t start your pagination all over again for each chapter – I have come across this.
- Likewise, don’t fasten the whole MS together with tags in punched holes or those metal binder clip thingies. They use the latter for film scripts but it’s not the done thing for novels. The humble elastic band is yet to be improved upon.
- My advice is not to put your MS in a folder. I have come across contrary opinions but I think most editors find them a nuisance.
- For anything approaching a full length novel, even a shorter children’s one, use either a padded ‘jiffy’ type envelope or one of those newer plastic bag-type ones (the latter probably save you a bit on postage, but the former are re-usable and in these greener times you won’t get any points knocked off for re-using one as long as it hasn’t become too shabby.) Although the standard brown envelope might seem pretty strong, a sizable manuscript may well not withstand the rigours of the journey (especially at the hands of the former shot-putters who work in sorting offices and as delivery drivers).