Nancy's Books

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Formatting a Manuscript, Part IV, Call for Submisions

This article is the last of the series, Formatting a Manuscript. 

1.      Do not staple the pages together. Place the pages in an envelope. If the manuscript is just a few pages, you may paperclip them together. I do this for picture books. If your manuscript is too large for an envelope, a box works well. Special boxes can be purchased. 

Before submitting a manuscript to any publisher, check their webpage for the guidelines. Some publishers have specific guidelines that must be followed and may vary from these tips. The tips I’ve listed are acceptable with many publishers, but there is no single, correct manuscript format. 

2.      This tip goes beyond formatting a manuscript but is an important tip to know. Mail the package as Media Mail, a special, discounted type of shipping that is allowed for manuscripts. Do NOT use any type of mailing that requires an editor to sign for the delivery. That is a major hassle editors do not want. 

My goal with an editor is to follow the Standard Manuscript Format so my work will be the primary focus, not the formatting. Make the format “transparent” so your work will stand out.

 Call for submissions for adult writers:

Writing in Dialogue Competition. Hosted by Pen and Keyboard Writers (an affiliate of OWFI – Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc.) Rules:
Only one entry per person
2.     Entry must consist of only dialogue or internal monologue (thoughts in italics).
3.     Entry should be a short story with conflict and resolution.
4.     Entry must not exceed 750 words.
5.     Include word count after the end of the story, 3-4 empty lines after last line.
6.     Entry must be double spaced1” margins all around, typed in Times New Roman 12 font or equivalent.
7.     Contestant’s name, full address, phone number, and preferred email address needed in upper right hand corner of first page. This part can be single spaced.
8.     Title, name of contestant, and page number needed in one line on top of pages after first page.
9.     Entry is to be sent as a Word document attachment to Only electronic entries accepted.
NOTE: Grammar, spelling, and correct punctuation are absolutely essential for top rated stories. This contest is about craftsmanship. As a side note, your judges are patently biased towards stories with some kind of conflict and some kind of resolution.
Deadline:  August 15, midnight CDT.

Check out more contests on my blog:


  1. Thank you, Nancy, for your weekly blog posts. I always enjoy reading them and appreciate the information you share.

    I do wonder about the advice you give in today's post. You are absolutely correct that book manuscripts can be sent via Media Mail, but I question whether a cover letter (which would always be included with a submission) can legally be enclosed with the manuscript. Have you checked with the Post Office about this?

  2. Hi Nancy. Last time I checked with the post office, I was told any BOUND book could go by media mail, but not loose pages. The rules should be checked before mailing a manuscript. Thanks for your series. Some helpful hints and good reminders along the way.

    1. Rosi, if you go to the USPS's website it does list book manuscripts as one of the items which can be sent by media mail, so I think that part of the advice is correct, and maybe the post office person who responded to your question just wasn't as knowledgeable as s/he should've been.

  3. Thank you, Nancy, for emailing me with your response. For the rest of you--Nancy said she was having trouble posting here today, but that she had verified with the Post Office that it is okay to include a cover letter with Media Mail, just no advertising.

  4. Thank you, Rosi and Ev, for your comments and questions. Sorry for the delayed reply. I have been unable to reply for some reason. As Ev stated, Media Mail can be used to send manuscripts and cover letters can be included. Happy writing.