After you have finished your final draft, the first thing to do is re-read the manuscript a couple of times to check for any errors. It can be even more valuable to have someone else read it to get a second opinion. Take note of anything that should be changed.

If you are using a computer/word processor, as most writers now do, it will be a simple matter to make changes without completely rewriting the work. If you have used a typewriter, you may have to re-type the entire work, particularly if you are dealing with a meticulous publisher. (Note: some publishers will reject a work if they see too many typographical errors, even if the work is good.)

It should be produced double spaced, and using a type style (or font) which is both clear and plain (eg. Times New Roman, 11 or 12 point). Fancy type styles are not as easy to read, and should not be used with submissions. Do not type anything single spaced. (Sometimes quotations or insets are typed single spaced in documents...this should not be done with manuscripts.)

There should be large margins on all sides to allow the editor room to write his/her comments. Allow about 50mm on the left side and 25mm on top.

Type or print your copy on white, A4 size paper only.

Keep the lines of typing as near as possible to the same length. This can be done automatically on a word processor. If using a typewriter, you need to think more carefully about when to go to the next line.

Each page of typescript (prepared as outlined here), with standard sized lettering for a typewriter or computer printer, should be approximately 250 words.

When writing a book, each chapter should begin with a new page.

Do not indent the beginnings of paragraphs; instead leave 4 lines (instead of the normal 2) between paragraphs.

Only underline words which you intend to be printed in italic.

Be consistent throughout with things like the use of capitals, the style of spelling (don't use colour in one part and color elsewhere), the use of punctuation, the use of symbols (don't use $ in one place and "dollar" somewhere else, and the use of quotation marks (don't change from " to ‘).

Always use a new typewriter ribbon or laser cartridge for final manuscripts.

Clean the type head(s) on the printer or typewriter before producing the final manuscript.

Produce at least one (preferably two) spare copies of the work and if using a computer save the copies on disks to give to the publisher.

Number pages in order so that the publisher can easily find them if they get out of order.

Don't staple or pin the pages together. Either clip them with a bulldog clip or paper clip, or lay them in a box or folder in order.

In the case of a book, there should be a title page and table of contents (two separate pages) at the front.

Include a copyright line at the end of the manuscript to protect your work against plagiarism. Write the copyright symbol ©, followed by your name and the year.

Where possible, deliver the package by hand to the publisher, giving notice that you are coming first.

In the case of short works (articles, fillers etc), you may post, fax or email them. Most editors now prefer emailed documents. Where illustrations or photos are involved, it is advisable to hand deliver, or use a courier. (The post office might damage original material such as this. If the original drawings or photos are destroyed, copies may not be acceptable to the publisher.)

Which publisher?
Publishing houses specialise in different branches of writing. Before you submit your manuscript, visit a bookshop or library or browse the Internet and familiarise yourself with who publishes what. You will find that the most of the larger mainstream publishers deal with a broad range of fiction styles, while smaller publishers might only publish special-interest books.

A final note – you are probably already aware that fiction writing is extremely competitive and it can be very difficult for first-time writers to break into the market. Be prepared for rejections – it happens to almost all new fiction writers! Don’t be discouraged though. Try other publishers; if they don’t accept your work, put your manuscript aside for a while (maybe even a few years), and start writing something else.

You may even find your writing style is better suited to a different market – perhaps you could try writing short stories or freelance non-fiction articles.

The more you write, the better your work will become, and eventually you may find a publisher to accept your work.

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