I’m about to start sending my manuscript out to agents, but I’m not sure how it should be formatted. And Google-fu has not been of much help... Some articles say 3 inch margins on the left, others say 1 inch on both sides, some say to start each chapter halfway down the page. Is there a standard manuscript format I ought to be following to give my book the best chance at being picked up?
Agents are looking for great stories and great voices and if you have those things, how you present your manuscript is secondary. That said, presenting your MS well shows the agent receiving it that you’re careful, professional and thorough. And first impressions really do count.
Some agents ask for manuscripts to be formatted a specific way and failing to do this shows you are not great at following directions. So before sending anything, check that the requesting agent doesn’t have a preference in how she receives the pages.
If not, here are a few very simple guidelines for making your MS look professional.
- Keep your margins standard – usually around 1-inch
- Use a standard font like Times New Roman and keep it no smaller than 12pt
- Start each chapter on a new page
- Indicate breaks within chapters using either **** or ####
- Number your pages starting from the first page of actual text (your title page should not be numbered)
- Put the name of the novel and your name in the footer
Your title page should be a separate page, unnumbered, with the title in a large font. Your name or pen-name goes under this, and in either the upper or lower right corner, the wordcount for the MS (rounded to the nearest 1,000 words) and your contact details (address, phone number, email).
Good luck with your submissions!