The publishing industry has standards for manuscript submissions, and if you follow them, you’ll look like a pro from first glance. Nothing screams amateur like incorrectly prepared manuscripts.
1. One inch margins all around (top, bottom, sides).
2. Twelve point Times New Roman or Courier.
3. Double spaced (using the paragraph toolbar to set — never hit <enter> twice to achieve double spacing).
4. Entire manuscript in one document with page numbers turned on. These page numbers are for organization of the manuscript and have no bearing on final page numbers in book.
5. ONE space after sentence periods. I know, I know, you were taught two in high school typing. Unlearn it. Or use search>replace to get rid of them when your manuscript is completed.
6. Insert a page break at the end of every chapter.
7. Indent paragraphs using one tab or your computer’s auto indent feature. NEVER indent using the space bar. Add two extra hard returns <enter> for text breaks.
8. Title page with word count on upper right. Title in center. Your contact information at botton.
9. No underlining. Anything. Ever.
10. Use italics when called for (publication titles, minimally for emphasis, first use of foreign word not in today’s lexicon — taco is not a foreign word in this context).
11. No hyphenation, no justification, no fiddling with leading or other typographic elements. Keep it simple!
12. Use two hyphens for em dashs. Never one, never three, only two. Our layout programs will convert two hyphens to a proper dash. Space on either side, please.
13. Chapter titles may be centered and bold at top of each new chapter page.
14. Include a table of contents for non-fiction. You don’t have to include the actual page numbers — we just want to see the book’s organization at a glance.
15. Dedication and acknowledgments aren’t needed until you have a publishing contract.
16. Most important of all? Do not try to make it look like a finished book. Resist all temptation to “show us” what you think it should look like and “do the work for us”.
All agents and publishers have submission guidelines on their websites. However, these simple rules will be what’s used by 95% of them. You can find ours http://stephenspress.com/submissions.html.