Friday, October 24, 2008

Formatting Your Project

I think I've discussed how to format your manuscript before on the blog, but more issues seem to be coming up with both my own clients and in submissions of partial and full manuscripts, so I thought I'd make some additional suggestions.

First, use Microsoft Word if possible. This is the program that most agents and editors prefer for both submissions and editing, and so you need to be on the same page as everyone in the industry. WordPerfect is ok, but sometimes mistakes can happen in the conversion to Word.

Do not send agents a PDF if you want them to provide edit suggestions, and certainly once you're a client you'll need to send agents things in Word. Also, the Kindle can't read PDF files.

If you use Microsoft Word 2007, make sure that you're using the "Word 2003" style and saving it as a "Word 97-2003 document." Why? Because many agents and editors don't have the new version of Word yet and haven't downloaded the software needed to convert Word 2007 files for use on an older format.

Learn how to use track changes for Microsoft Word. This is an amazing feature that allows agents and editors to make editorial suggestions directly into the manuscript.

Make sure to include page numbers and either footers or headers with your name and/or title. Some agents and editors still print partial and full manuscripts for reading. Friday afternoon they'll print up a bunch of submissions, stuff them in their grossly overweight messenger bag, and lug them home for weekend reading. If you don't include page numbers and headers/footers and the agent isn't extremely careful, your project pages will likely get scattered about.


Ann Victor said...

Thanks. I've been wondering about the compatibility of the new MS Word.

AC said...

Good to know! I might have forgotten about the new/old MS Word thing.

I think it's weird, BTW, that Kindles won't read PDFs.

Deaf Brown Trash Punk said...

but what about 12 font Courier? my manuscript is formatted that way.

uhhh, I think I'm good... for now.

I keep worrying about chapters and how to split up chapters, but people told me that I shouldn't worry too much about it, right?


Stephanie Leary said...

My office has created a video on how to track changes in Word (warning: that link goes directly to a full-screen video). It's also on iTunesU, if you prefer.

Josephine Damian said...

Recently got a slick new laptop with Windows 2007 - tried to read a doc I created there on my older computer - could not - incompatability issues!

As if Vista wasn't bad enough!

Will stick with using the older computer for writing Word docs and use the laptop for just Internet.

Heidi the Hick said...

Gah, I hate Microsoft SO MUCH!

I would love it if this industry would learn to deal with Mac. But as it is, I'll have to adjust myself to the screwed up world of Vista/ MS Word compatibility issues. I'll just have to. Grrr...

Beosig said...

What about Open Office? It can create perfectly compatible Office 95-2003 files. Has anyone come across an issue opening those in Word? I'm in a purely Linux world (by choice,) so I'm purely without anything running under Windows, such as Office.