No, no, I’m not talking about you…but your manuscript. Naked is the only way to go. I can hear you now: “What the hellfire are you talking about, Pricey?”
When you submit your manuscript – whether it’s an editor request, or you’re a contracted author handing over your darling to begin the editing process – it’s tempting to want to “help” your editor by formatting your manuscript. This is different from the standard formatting – 12 pt. Times New Roman, standard paragraphs, double-spaced. THIS is all editors want. Keep it simple. Keep it as naked as the day it was born.
make-me-scream-like-a-banshee “helpful”formatting I’m talking about is the stuff that makes editors want to scream for a quick death:
- Formatting the chapter headings, maybe doing about 10 carriage returns, so the new chapter begins about halfway down the page.
- Formatting chapter breaks into sections (this one alone has been responsible for my drinking late into the night).
- Formatting the page numbers, inserting your name on one page, and the book title on the next page.
- Formatting the first letter in every new chapter so that it’s twice the size of the regular font.
- Doing artsy fartsy line spacing.
Three words: DON’T DO IT. Don’t do any of this. All that formatting adds a ton of code into the file, and it wreaks havoc when some poor shlub (me) has to go in and undo all of it. Instead, submit your manuscript naked as a jaybird. Bare-assed. In the buff. Sans clothing.
You may think your manuscript looks all pretty, but all publishing houses have a standard way of formatting. And it all has to be undone before editing begins. Wasting precious time removing all the unwanted clothing makes me want to mainline engine grease. If you want to be helpful, send a box of Twinkies. Or Girl Scout cookies (those coconutty caramel things are to die for). But leave your mitts off da manuscript. Your finished product will look really pretty. Scouts honor.
You can keep your clothes on, but let your manuscript go skinny-dipping.