Manuscript Preparation:

The following is reprinted with the permission  of SF Amy 
and Nick Neuro, moderators of America Online's Science 
Fiction Writers Workshop. 
* Note, this was prepared primarily for Science Fiction and
Fantasy writers, but the majority of the advice applies to
_any_ writer in _any_ genre.
Nope. I know of at least one case where a first novel was 
sold based on a manuscript that was almost six hundred 
single spaced pages, written on both sides. But why make 
it hard for someone to like your work?
Yep. But a lot of them were put in place before computers 
or even electric typewriters were common. But when 
you're trying to sell something, you don't tell your 
customer you think what he's asking for is dumb.
The minimum is a manuscript and a SASE (#10 
envelope with one stamp on it.). They'll send you their 
response in the #10. Sometimes it is a letter on their 
stationary. Sometimes it's the first page of your 
manuscript or your cover letter (if you used one) with a 
note scribbled on it.
If you want your manuscript returned, forget the #10 and 
include a SASE (STAMPED not metered) shipping 
envelope similar to the one your mailed the manuscript in 
with SUFFICIENT POSTAGE to get the manuscript back 
to you. NEVER send your only copy of a manuscript to 
In a genre short story submission sent directly to the 
publisher, there is no need for a cover letter unless you 
have some special skill or experience that would increase 
the editor's good feelings about your story. If you write a 
story that draws on your occupational knowledge or 
unique personal experience, by all means say so. 
Likewise if you have professional credits such as other 
work published, award nominations, or Clarion attendance, 
again, say so. (In the case of literary publications, attendance
at an MFA program, for instance) It can help you get out of
the big slush pile and into the little one.
If you do write a cover letter, make it a brief (2 or 3 lines), 
professional business letter to the editor. Don't try to flatter 
the editors, tell them how to market your story or why this 
is so much better than all the garbage they've been 
publishing. Just hope they like it. It doesn't help to send 
photos, gifts, inflatable toys, home-made cookies, living 
creatures, sexual come-ons or even money (unless it's a 
enough money so that the editor can retire for the rest of 
his/her life <g>).
The manuscript should be printed on 8 1/2 by 11 white 
paper, with a one inch white space around each edge. Use 
a fresh ribbon/ink cartridge/toner cartridge if the text looks 
gray. Editorial Readers have to slog through hundreds of 
manuscripts per week. It's not wise to make them strain to 
read your work.  *ALL PRINT SHOULD BE A IN 12 
POINT MONOSPACE SERIF FONT.* I'll say that again 
because it is so important.   *ALL PRINT SHOULD BE 
Monospace means that every letter is of the same width. 
A "W" is allowed just as much line space as an "I".  The 
best font to use is Courier, but Times and Roman are 
acceptable. DO NOT use proportional fonts like 
Garramond, Schoolbook, Lucida, etc. The AOL screen 
font is a proportional sans-serif font. DO NOT use a font 
that looks or acts like it for your manuscript submission.
If your word processor has "Widow and Orphan Control", 
turn it off. "Widow and Orphan Control" refers to not 
allowing the first or last line of a paragraph to be split 
across pages. All of your pages should have their last line 
at the same physical place on the page. If they don't, then 
you probably have some text flow option turned on and 
you need to turn it off.
In the upper left hand corner of the first page of your 
manuscript you should put your name, address and phone 
number, single spaced and left justified.  This is your 
"check" name. It's how the editor contacts you and who 
they make the check out to.
In the upper right hand corner of the first page should be 
the number of words in the manuscript rounded to the 
nearest hundred words, right justified. Like, "6500 Words"
Putting something like "About 5,423 Words," well, don't
do it.  It's 5,400 words, in that case.
Do NOT put "Copyright 1996" on your manuscript:
But, why?  Writers Digest Tells Us So!
1)    It's not necessary. Your manuscript is protected by 
copyright laws by the fact that you wrote it. The 
appropriate protection is for you to keep a copy
2)    It will be formally copyrighted if & when it is published 
by the publisher
3)    It immediately marks you as an amateur
4)    It also dates the story, doesn't it?
Five lines above the vertical center of the page should be 
the title of your manuscript. It should be horizontally 
centered and all in caps. The line directly below it should 
be blank. The next line should be, "by 
YourProfessionalName". This is your "nom de plume" or 
the name that will appear in the magazine as the author. It 
can be the same as your check name if you wish. Skip 
two lines and start your story, the first line of which should 
be in the vertical center of the page. 
All story lines should be double spaced with 1/2 inch 
indentations for the first line of each paragraph. Don't skip 
an extra line between paragraphs.
Your first page should look like the next page:
Your Legal Name          6,500 Words 
123 Nebula Blvd.
Clarion, Michigan  MO210
(110) 111-1111
by Your Writing Name
        It was a dark and stormy night. 
Hans Kramped, the Norwegian explorer, 
rubbed his palms together and blew on 
them to keep them warm. Ice crystals hung 
in the air like frozen memories of the 
loved ones he'd left behind. Outside 
wolves howled in the distance; their 
moanful bay reminding him of midnight 
runs on the family grounds with his older 
sister before his stepmother and 
stepfather sent her away to America.  But 
that had been several lifetimes ago. Now 
there was only the ice, the cold and his 
life size Barney plush toy -- and of 
course, the book.
        Would he have the courage to tell 
the world the horrible . . .
You get the idea.
For all subsequent pages; in the upper left hand corner 
you should have your Last Name, a "/" and the Title of the 
Story, all left justified (or Title/Last Name). In the upper 
right hand corner and right justified, you should have the 
page number (starting with number 2). This is all so that 
when the manuscript gets dropped and the pages 
scattered, it can be reassembled with a minimum of fuss.
Section breaks should be shown by a line that contains 
only a pound sign (#)in the center of the line. Treat it like 
any other line of text. Don't add extra spaces above or 
below it.
Like the next page:
KRAMPED / Hans Cramped                  Page 13 
        Hans dropped the hot iron on his 
toe and hollered, "Ja, that's hot, but 
you should see my salsa." Margaret's eyes 
fired volleys of daggers at Hans, nearly 
pinning him to the wall. "You never did 
love me, did you?" she screamed, grabbing 
her mucklucks and throwing open the 
blanket that served as a door on their 
        Hans' heart fell. "Margaret!" he 
cried into the cold arctic night. "You 
can't leave me. I've almost deciphered 
the book."
        "I don't care. I'm going back to 
Barney. At least I know he loves me." She 
tried to fight back the tears, but 
managed only to snort like a race horse. 
"And I love him. There, I've said it."
        She stepped out into the swirling 
night and disappeared into the dark. Hans 
ran to the door but she was gone. Still, 
he would never forget her final, fleeting 
words as chunks of wind-driven ice 
scoured his face like the lonely sands of 
        It was nearly dawn at the Institute 
when a roving band of students foraged 
their way into Prof. Whasbo's office 
looking for Ring Dings. He was as ill 
prepared to meet them as they were to 
find such an august faculty member 
dressed in a chicken outfit and singing 
the Yale Fight Song.
You get the idea.
When you get to the end of the story, skip three or four 
spaces and put "THE END" or "END" in the horizontal 
Like this:
                       - END -
DO NOT staple, glue or bind the manuscript pages 
together.  Do not buy a nice little folder with a
plastic cover.  Use a paperclip.
Do not fool with any of the "techniques" that some writers 
seem to use to discover whether or not the editor actually 
read their story, such as inserting fine hairs between the 
pages, bits of rubber cement or scotch tape. This is an 
embarrassing waste of time. Worse, many name 
publications keep records of promising writers whose work 
wasn't purchased. Although brief, these records often 
indicate who you are, the story title, what grade of 
rejection you received and maybe a little bit about what 
they liked or didn't like about your work. Yes folks, there is 
such a thing as a permanent record. Frightening, isn't it.
Don't forget to keep track of where you've sent stories. 
Don't send stories to multiple markets unless you tell 
them and they have no problem with your doing so.
Although Dean Smith (Former Editor of Pulphouse) holds the 
record at over 60 stories out at one time, it's easy to get 
confused even if you only have two or three out. So pick a 
tracking system that works for you and stick with it. And 
yes, editors write stories too and yes, they sometimes 
have their stories rejected too. So don't get discouraged 
by rejections. Keep sending the stories out.
Amy & Nick