A Writing Tip from Traci Sanders

Meet Traci Sanders.

author photo(2).jpg

Traci Sanders is a multi-genre, multi-award-winning author of ten published titles, with contributions to three anthologies. An avid blogger and supporter of Indie authors, she writes parenting, children’s, romance, and nonfiction guides.
Author Links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AWordWithTraci/
Amazon page: Traci M Sanders

“My ultimate goal is to provide great stories and quality content for dedicated readers, whether through my own writing or editing works by other authors.”


TIP 233: Mastering your manuscript

This tip, and many others on publishing and marketing, can be found in Beyond The Book: Tips on publishing, marketing, and networking to build your brand, now available in digital and paperback on Amazon.

While most of the tips in this book are aimed at authors who choose to self-publish, I do throw a few on traditional publishing in the mix. As well, some authors are hybrids, meaning they choose to publish some of their books as Indies, and list other titles with agents or publishers.
No matter which route you choose, knowing how to format a manuscript is a good skill to have.

First, here are some Don’ts when it comes to manuscripts:

  1. Don’t use fancy fonts or colors. Your manuscript won’t be taken seriously.
  2. Don’t send your full manuscript unless it’s requested.
  3. Don’t forget to put your name and book title on it.
  4. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Follow the standards.
  5. Don’t embellish or lie about your experience or talents. Don’t claim to be an “award-winning author” if you’re not.
  6. Don’t mention writing accolades or published pieces, unless they were awarded or received from a notable source. (Ex: Don’t mention that you had an article published in your local newspaper.)
  7. Don’t compare your writing to someone famous. Let your writing speak on its own merit.
  8. Don’t suck up to the agent/publisher by mentioning their work. They recognize it right away.
  9. Don’t underline anything in manuscripts. Italics will suffice.

Now, here are a few Do’s for manuscripts:

  1. Do use a 1-inch margin on all sides.
  2. Do address a certain agent by name—not “to whom it may concern.”
  3. Do follow the submission guidelines – only submit what is requested. Don’t attach documents if they ask you to copy and paste it into the body of the email. And don’t send more, thinking they will “appreciate your work once they start reading.” It probably won’t make it past the slush pile.
  4. Do include a title page, but start the page numbering on the first page of the actual story. It should include:
    title of the story, approximate word count (to the nearest hundred), author’s contact details, copyright details, and agent’s details (if represented).
  5. Do include a header on each page: your name, title of novel in all caps, and page number.
  6. Do start each new chapter on a new page, about one-third the way down the page.
    Just a side note: most agents/publishers don’t want stories with prologues, but if you self-publish, you don’t have to worry about that.
  7. Do start the first line of the story four to six lines down from the chapter title.
  8. Do double space the entire manuscript, except certain lines on the title page. See images above.
  9. Do use 12pt. spacing, and Courier font type.
  10. Do use left-align for your text.
  11. Do single space between sentences.

Whether you are an Indie or traditionally published, it’s important to represent your work in a professional manner and have a manuscript at the ready, just in case. Many Indie authors have had their titles “picked up” by publishers at conferences and conventions.


This tip comes from her newly released book!

Stop back around noon today for a guest book review by Traci!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: