1. vyleside
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    vyleside Member

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    Formatting a manuscript?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by vyleside, Feb 3, 2009.

    I'm formatting a manuscript to send off to a publisher or agent (not decided yet).

    I've got my margins set, double line spacing and whatnot, but when it comes to indenting the first part of a new paragraph, I have no idea what's an acceptable indent. Some places have said "a few spaces" but would a tab space be ok?

    It might sound silly, but I've read how picky these people can be, and I'd hate to be rejected on the size of an indent being too big/too small.

    Does anybody know?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If the web site for the publisher doesn't specify, the most common recommendation I have seen is a 1/2" indent, or about a centimeter if you are metrically inclined.

    Any formatting requirements on the publisher's web site will of course take precedence. You may have to modify your manuscript formatting slightly when submitting to several publishers.
     
  3. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    As Cogito indicated, go with what the website of the agent/publisher request. After that, an indent is common/standard and acceptable.

    If the details of formatting are not listed specifically, what counts is that the submission (cover letter, synopsis, outline, first three chapters, full manuscript, etc.--whatever is requested) appears professional and is in the best possible condition (polished) that you can make it.

    A writer generally only gets one shot with a publisher/agent for each project (novel, short story, article, etc.) so don't rush. Have someone else look over your work (manuscript, cover letter, synopsis) before sending them off. If nothing else, wait a week after creating the documents and give them a fresh look. In the big scheme of things, a few days or a week won't make a difference--unless there is a window where unsolicited submissions are accepted. Even if your manuscript is accepted right off the bat with the first publisher--generally wading through slush takes weeks, months or longer--it will most likely be a year minimum before your mansucript is a novel on the shelf. Probably 18 months to two years, especially with larger houses is more like what you'd expect.

    With an agent, your manuscript has to be accepted for representation, contract agreed to and signed, and then the submission process through the agent begins. But with a good agent, the mauscript will go directly to the appropriate editor's desk. May still take a while to get an answer, but faster than the slush route.

    Terry
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    here's a good ms format guide:

    http://www.shunn.net/format/novel.html

    and your default tab setting is the proper indent for any ms... it = 5 letter spaces, which should be .5" ...
     
  5. sorites
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    sorites Senior Member

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    I found this guide a while back. You might find it useful.

    [PDF] http://sfwa.org/writing/vonda/Mssprep.pdf
     
  6. vyleside
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    vyleside Member

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    Thanks, guys. I'll save those two formatting guides, they'll definitely come in useful.
     

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