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ProAm Tips #1

Thus begins my personal series of advice columns. Want to know what to do right? Or at least, what I’ve found to be the best ideas? Yeah, I know. What makes ME qualified? Well… I’ve been published a couple times, I’ve written eleven novels (They’re on Amazon, shameless plug) , and, I’ve been doing this my whole life. I have a good idea, if not what to do, what NOT to do. So, today’s pro tip:

Follow this link to find out how to professionally format a manuscript.

This is the official William Shunn website, wherein you’ll learn to professional prepare a manuscript for publications. It’s the site and the preparation that has become standard in the industry. Peruse the website, you can’t go wrong. But I’ll break it down for you, though, because since learning how to do this, I’ve trained myself to only write in this format.

Make a new document in whatever word processing program you favor. I happen to use Word 2007, because it’s the one I own. But it’s the same in all programs. Find your SELECT ALL command. Use it. Set the entire document as Courier New font (This or Times New Roman, I prefer Courier) Size 12.

Top left: your information. Top right: your word count.

Center Middle: your title.

Center under Title, your name.

You want to also have a header on each page. Move to the second page (You don’t want a header on your first page) In Word you use Insert, Header. I use this format:

Gallagher / Title / Page number.

Justify it to the left. This is so even if your manuscript falls off an editor’s desk, it’ll still be possible to reassemble. I assume this is less common now that Electronic submissions are more and more prevalent, but you never know. Some editors prefer to do it the old-fashioned way and print out your work. And remember, shit happens.

Save this document as something like Manuscript Template, and use it to start all of your writing. Learn to love working in a prepared manuscript, it’ll save you a ton of time later.

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