STYLE AND LAYOUT
Regardless of whether you are publishing independently, or are hoping to find a traditional publisher for your book it is important that your manuscript is correctly laid out.
With independent publishing the less work your proof reader and editor need to do the more you will keep your production costs down. If approaching traditonal publishers you need to demonstrate you have an understanding of correct layout.
Here is a guideline of how to layout your mauscript and a few style elements to be aware of.
- The expected industry standard for manuscripts is Times New Roman. 12 pt, double spaced. Set the line space option to not add space between paragraphs of the same style.
- Chapter headings should be in 14 point also in Times New Roman. Don’t add style features such as headings in decorative fonts or dropped first letters. This is done at the typesetting stage.
- Only ever use one exclamation mark.
- Only ever use one question mark.
- Speech quotations should be single not double.
- Only use one exclamation mark. Only use one question mark. Speech quotations should be single not double. So much of the manuscript does not have full stops this needs to be corrected before submission to a publisher.
- Ellipses only use three.
- Be cautious about using ellipses in dialogue. Instead break up the dialogue and use action to show the emotion. ie running a hand through hair, trembling etc without over doing it. This is a delicate balance between overshowing and leaving it too open and your editor will fine tune this for you.
- Go through the manuscript and insert all full stops and ensure commas are in the correct place.
- Check spellings that jump out at you. I could see any number of errors where for instance from had been replaced with form, yu instead of you as well as spellings that should be picked up by the spell checker in Word. The editor will check for these, but the draft should be of a reasonable standard before submission.
- Use UK English not American – so s rather than z. Recognise rather than recognize. While for this word the z is acceptable in modern times most editors will prefer the British English with the s than the American English with the z throughout.
- Okay should be used instead of ok.
- It is helpful to read the final draft out loud before submitting to the editor as you will be able to iron out many of the grammar and punctuation errors at this stage.
- Look at the spacing between the words. Some in this draft have joined together. The spell check in Word should highlight these for you.
- Numbers should be written two rather than 2
- ?! Don’t mix question marks and explanation marks, instead use dialogue and narration to show the emotion.
- How many drafts does it take to complete a novel?
- Is it best to write a series, or standalone titles?