Assuming that you get the chance for a publisher or submission editor to read your manuscript, shouldn’t it look good? This goes the same if you are self-publishing, or just sending your manuscript out to be edited. My goal in this post is simply to get you (as an author) to start thinking about how your manuscript looks visually, the presentation.
Exactly how important is the layout of your manuscript, really?
Well, from a publisher’s standpoint, I would say greatly important. I know it doesn’t have anything to do with your story, but without all those other distractions it is so much easier to give your manuscript the attention it deserves. At least half of the manuscripts we receive have some sort of layout design issue. Many of those were due to just simply not reading and following the submission guidelines.
Neatness counts! It did in elementary, middle, and high school, and it still does today. Not just neatness in your writing, but the presentation as well. Again, it is that all important first impression.
When a manuscript with sloppy formatting shows up it gives the impression that there could be a lot more wrong with the story. It is possible that it is completely the opposite and that there are no structural flaws in your story. Maybe you listened to someone say that you had to wow someone by using a red or blue font. Or worse yet, one that stood out from the rest, so you decided to use a Celtic Garamond font (yes, it’s a real font). Oh, and maybe you decided to place an extra blank line between paragraph just so they would stand out.
What happens if a publisher or editor receives a messy manuscript? Messy begets messy, and we tend to put off messy until later. So much time is wasted on reformatting a messy document before the actual work can even begin.
Yes, there are some authors who just pay someone to clean it up for them. If that’s in you budget, then by all-means don’t get distracted. But for the rest of you who don’t have that kind of personal help (the majority of writers) take the steps to put your manuscript’s best foot forward.
Beyond A Passing Glance?
Avoid most of the layout design pitfalls by presetting them before you start. Simply set up a template that you can use over and over. Make sure you can find it. Name it something like, “Best Novel Ever Template”. Here’s a link to a list of free tips you can use.
Even if you are not looking to submit your manuscript anywhere, give your work a once over with this checklist. This short list was created based on the top issues I have seen regarding publishing submissions.
You can download a free PDF checklist of these, here. I hope you find it useful. If you have publishing or publishing related questions, I would love to hear from you. Click on the "Let me Know here" link below.