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Wednesday, 29 July 2009

MANUSCRIPT LAYOUT


I'd never leave the house without lippy, my hair uncombed or my clothes unironed. So why would I post a manuscript off without checking if I've laid it out correctly?

Over the past month I've been busily editing clients' novels and I've noticed that some don't lay out the ms correctly - not because they don't care but just because they haven't researched the area properly.

I've had single-spaced novels, justified novels and ones with a really beautiful, but unacceptable, font!

Presentation is everything when it comes to sending out your precious novel to prospective publishers or agents. Why spend ages writing the blooming thing, if you can't spend a little more time researching how to represent it?

First and foremost you need a title page: your name, contact address, phone number and email address. Add your website/blog too if it showcases your work, otherwise don't bother. Then the name of your book and its word count. Nothing elaborate; no fancy font like Webdings or humongous sized words. Times New Roman point 12 is preferred by every publisher/agent I've ever been in contact, so stick with that.

I put my name, address and contact number in the top right hand corner. Then I centre the title of my book, and underneath my author name, and under that the word count. You don't have to do exactly the same, just make sure it looks neat and tidy and above all PROFESSIONAL.

Your ms should be double spaced, with generous margins all round (this is in case it does get accepted, and the publisher needs to make notes on it), at least 1 to 1.5 inches.
Use good quality CLEAN white paper. It doesn't have to be expensive. If the ink cartridge needs replacing do it now, and only use ONE side of the paper. Pages should be numbered from one through to the end. And don't forget to include your name or title (or both) in the header.

Justifying (as this is) looks pretty, but DON'T DO IT! The publisher won't thank you for it, I assure you.

Don't include acknowledgements, that comes later once you've been accepted.

Include a SAE when sending, and use a new, or reasonably new envelope, and make sure you are sending your ms to someone who deals with that genre. It's such a waste of postage if you send a sci-fi to someone who only deals with crime.

Inside the envelope you should have a short synopsis (no more than two pages - one is even better!), a covering letter and the first three or four chapters of your novel (check submission guidelines). That's it. Do not bind them together. If you feel the need, an ordinary elastic band will do.


To clarify:


1. Title page - contact details, name of novel and word count.
2. Type ONE side of page only.
3. Number pages from one through to the end.
4. DO NOT justify.
5. No acknowledgements.
6. Name/title in header.
7. New Times Roman point 12 ONLY.
8. Do not bind your MS together.
9. Clean envelope, short sharp synopsis and cover letter.
10. STAMPED ADDRESS ENVELOPE.


















Wednesday, 22 July 2009

WHATEVER YOU DO DON'T BE FLUFFY

At school you were told to use plenty of adjectives and adverbs in your story writing. Mrs Jenkins probably littered your English book with red pen, didn't she?

I bet you had a piece of chalk (or marker pen if you're younger than 30) thrown at you, with her yelling, "Use more descriptive words!"

Not only that but I bet old Mrs Jenkins used to demand you not start a sentence with a conjunction or worse, mops brow, finishes a sentence with one!

Can you see what's wrong with the piece of writing below? Underneath, I've highlighted where I think words could be deleted without the whole scene changing.

It was morning and Mary woke up and stretched leisurely. The bright yellow sun shone fiercely through the gap in her blue curtains, and spilled over her pink duvet. Yawning, she sleepily sat up and pushed her long, brown hair out of her eyes. She pushed off her cover and swung her shapely legs out of bed and crossed towards the bathroom. The freezing shower was cold against her warm skin. But Mary welcomed it.


It was morning and Mary woke up and stretched leisurely. The bright yellow sun shone fiercely through the gap in her blue curtains, and spilled over her pink duvet. Yawning, she sleepily sat up and pushed her long, brown hair out of her eyes. She pushed off her cover and swung her shapely legs out of bed and crossed towards the bathroom. The freezing shower was cold against her warm skin. But Mary welcomed it.

Over all it's a boring start to a story anyway, but the adjectives and adverbs are way too much. Take them out and it's tighter, but still makes sense.

Are you guilty of over writing?

Saturday, 4 July 2009

COMPETITION

We all love competitions, don't we? It's just nice to receive something for nothing. But is it something for nothing?

Nah, it's all to do with the advertising; and I'm the same. I'm giving away a signed copy of my first book - EDEN because I'm in need of raising my profile as a writer. As a shy individual this's come as a bit of an eye-opener! I'm finding myself in bookshops shamelessly flogging my wares, dropping my blog address all over the place, and telling anyone who'll listen that I'VE WRITTEN A BOOK.

Eden's a love story. It may be set in space and have a slight sci-fi kick to it, but it's a romance all the same. An adult Beauty and the Beast only the beauty is an astronaut and the beast is an alien.

Jenny, the heroine, is left on an unknown planet after the crew accidentally leave her behind. She's a modern woman from 2236 and is reduced to living the life of her prehistoric ancestors. She has to survive the harsh conditions on this cold planet; forage for food and hide from predatory animals. When the alien saves her life, she feels he isn't as evil as she first believes and sets out to tame him.

The competition is open to anyone.

To enter all I'm asking is that you put a link to this blog onto your website or blog.  Let me know you've done it, and I'll send you a signed copy of Eden.

I've only FOUR copies, so better be quick.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Self-Publishing snobbery

There's a lot of snobbery in the air when someone mentions self-publishing. A lot of pursed lips and tut-tutting. It's the last resort of a poor writer having been rejected by countless agents and publishers, isn't it? .

Many think so, sadly.


I've read a few SP books and loads of "ordinary" books and have found errors in both. Funny, they are called spelling errors in SP books, but printing errors in books with a publishing house behind them.

The Pros and Cons of self-publishing can be found in the links highlighted. But, at all costs, make sure your book is the best it can be if you follow the SP route (by any route, really). Pay for a detailed edit/proof-read. Pay an artist for a good cover: these don't have to be expensive. Shop around.

But be prepared to sell yourself; pimping on Twitter, Facebook etc. You'll also make a lot of friends from all over the world, as I have found. I may not make my fortune from Eden but I'm sure going to have fun selling it!