Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How to Format a Manuscript for a Publisher

There is only one way to format a hardcopy manuscript to be read by a publisher. Of course, many publishers prefer electronic these days, but when you send that file, this is also the way it should be formatted when the editor opens it. Don't get cute, don't be artistic, don't try to gain attention by using purple crayon or purple colored font. What you'll do is give that particular publisher an easy excuse for rejecting you. What we see is not the artisic endeavor, what we see is someone who is just beginning, or someone who doesn't care about the rules.

  • White paper. No colored paper or electronic files with colored backgrounds.
  • Single-sided. (Obviously this applies to hard copies.) Editors don't expect to look at the back of a page.
  • Standard font: Courier, 12 point, is the standard font to use in manuscript format. This size is easy to read and makes all the letters take up the same amount of space on a line, so word counts are easy. Don't change fonts or sizes anywhere. (check with the publisher on this one, because many of us are using Georgia. It takes up the same amount of space, but is darker and more open, making it even easier to read)
  • Double space your manuscript, but Do Not put any extra space between paragraphs. Again, it's easy to read and leaves room for editing marks. (Those extra spaces between paragraphs are so annoying they will not leave a good impression with your editor.)
  • Only one space between words or sentences. (Traditionally, typists put an extra space after periods and colons, but this has been abandoned by publishers as a waste of space and paper.)
  • 1 to 1 1/4-inch margins top, bottom, left, and right. You want a maximum of 60 characters per line (10 words) and 25 lines per page to get an average of 250 words per page.
  • Ragged, not justified alignment. Word processors can do justified alignment, whereby all the lines end flush with the right-hand margin, but don't do it. It changes the spacing between words in a way that is distracting.
  • Include a header on every page except the title page. The header should put the page number in the upper right hand corner. This makes it easy to tell, when flipping through the manuscript, if a page has gone missing. Left of the page number, put your name and the title of your book, or a shortened version of each (for example “Dickens/Two Cities 25”). If a page gets separated from your manuscript and mixed up with other papers, this information will help someone put it back in place.
  • Title page. The title page will have the book's title centered, half-way down the page. Underneath that, also centred, put “By” followed by the author's name. In either the top left or bottom right corner, provide your contact details: name, address, phone number, email address. On the opposite side of the page, put your estimated word count.
  • No bold, italics, or any other font effects. You can underline foreign words, titles, and things you want to emphasize, just as you would if you were using a typewriter (publishers will convert underlining to italics). Black is the only acceptable font color.
  • Don't add hyphens to break up words at the end of a line. Most people wouldn't think to do this unless they had trained as a typist. But just in case you did, don't. The line divisions will change in the printed book, which means someone will have to go through the manuscript and remove many of the hyphens you add. So just leave them out.
  • Start the first chapter 6 double-spaced lines down from the top of the next page. Center the chapter title or use “Chapter 1” if you don't want chapter titles. Then hit return twice to leave extra space before the story starts. Start every chapter on a new page, with a similar title.
  • Put “End” at the bottom of the last page, so the editor knows for certain it is the last page and nothing's gone missing.
  • Do not bind or staple your pages together, or include a cover. Editors want the pages to lie flat. They don't want to hold the manuscript open. Just stack the pages in order and pack them into a box. Or if they are requesting an electroinic submission, use this formatting, and do not use some exotic program for sending it. Most editors want a simple Word attachment. Do not password protect it, do not use read only. Everyone has virus protection to let them know whether a file is safe, so an attachment is fine.
Hope you learned something today! I certainly did.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The House on Prytania, by Pat Carr

Watch for the new short story collection by Pat Carr.
The House on Prytania's release date is March 25, 2014.
Pat's stories are hauntingly beautiful, and written with a pen that only she possesses. We guarantee you won't be able to put this one down. It will be available in bookstores and on Amazon or you can  order directly through High Hill. Check out Pat's website to find her schedule and see titles for her other books. One of our favorites is an award winning collection of Civil War stories titled
Death of a Confederate Colonel.
 Below is an excerpt from the title story in this wonderful collection, The House on Prytania.
Mrs. Parrish wasn’t my mother, and that was probably why I could see it and Lily couldn’t.
Or so I thought at the time.
It was only later I understood that perhaps Lily had been aware and that even Mr. Parrish may have pretended he hadn’t noticed. He always made conventional—stiff and meaningless—remarks, beaming, as if it was entirely logical to come home at two in the afternoon to find us, Lily and me and Mrs. Parrish in the kitchen around the big oak table, laughing and joking with Armond.
I’d known, even at eleven, that my mother wouldn’t have sat in any room with Armond. Not that she was prejudiced. She always pointedly showed her Garden District listings to black professionals when other agents in her office refused or feigned too busy a schedule. It was just that she couldn’t have thought of anything to say to her gardener- carpenter after she’d decided what shade of maroon she wanted the gutters painted or where she wanted the flat of peonies bedded. She hired workmen for competent jobs, and if Armond had been her handyman, she’d have expected him to change the light fixtures and caulk the tub before she got home. I couldn’t imagine her hovering at the foot of a ladder, bracing the toolbox or dispensing screw-drivers as he needed them.
Which may have been what gave me the first, not-quite-conscious clue.
“You’ve been working here how long?” I asked him one afternoon. I wouldn’t have been that brash with any other adult, but this was Armond, and we were sitting at the table while Mrs. Parrish fried beignets for the four of us.
“Let’s see, how long, Eva?” He looked at Mrs. Parrish. “Since I was seventeen or eighteen I guess. Since Lily must’ve been about two.”
He seemed older than twenty-six, with silver coiling like fine sterling wire through his black sideburns and an incisor replaced and glinting old-man-gold when he laughed.
Watch for more after March 25th.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Exciting 2014

After a winter of slowing down to take care of family obligations, High Hill is again running full steam ahead. At the end of 2013 we completed several projects we're very proud of. We released the third book in Dusty Richards' Frank Brothers Series, Brackeen's Law.
But before the ink was even dry on this wonderful novel, Dusty finished the fourth book from this series, Texas. Watch for it soon, its official release date is April 25th, but we have a feeling we'll have some of these available even sooner.

Below is a rough proof of the cover, a neat design by Casey Cowan.
High Hill Press also made a decision this year to change the format for books in our children's  division, SkyHigh Tales. Last November we released this larger version of Brenda Brinkley's popular book, Albert's Happy Thanksgiving. We're also reformatting Brenda's second book, Cleveland Turns Green, and we'll have a brand new Brinkley book, Frank Meets Friday, out by mid-summer of 2014. Brenda is a busy author.
Between High Hill and Cactus Country, we have ten books coming out over the next eight months. Dusty's Texas, as well as Thom Nicholson's haunting book, Revenge of the Soiled Dove. We also have a wonderful drama detailing the gray clouds that formed over two families living in the Tennessee Valley before and during the Civil War by David Kirkland, and a book by a new author we met last year, Scott Amsbaugh. Scott has written a beautiful traditional western so full of action and wonderfully written prose, we're sure it will become a best seller. We have two memoirs, a short story collection, a neat little paranormal novel, another great mystery, a book about two rascal poodles, titled Poodlums, and an interesting fantasy novel, titled Final Gate, by a young author, Alda Yuan. We're especially thrilled about Alda's book because it has been translated to Chinese and is already a big hit in China.

In December of 2013, we finished a short story collection, gathered and edited by Brett Cogburn, titled Rough Country. This book contains stories from the best writers working in the western genre today.
That's enough for now, but within the next few days we'll list other titles and covers we have recently finished or have in the works. We're planning interviews with authors, author photos so you can see what your favorite writer looks like, and will post some interesting Q&As we've been working on. And later this month we're starting a weekly column here on the blog with writing tips. We are pleased with what we accomplished in 2013, and are excited about what we expect to be a banner year in 2014. And as always, thanks for supporting us.