Monday, August 31, 2009

Word Count and Manuscript Format

New York publishers all expect a standard page format for manuscripts.  

Why is this important information for you to know before you start sending your book out?

If you start out in the "official" format, you will have a better idea of the book's word length.  

Word length in publishing is figured out by page, not by the exact number of words in your document.  

In "official" format, each page equals 250 words whether there is white space or not.  If you want your novel to be 100,000 words long, divide 100,000 by 250 to find out the number of pages needed.  If you've written 130 pages and want to know how many words you've written, mulitiple 130 by 250.

Here's how to format.

Font: Courier New in 12 point

Margins:  1 inch borders on all sides

Double spacing

25 lines per page excluding the header

Two spaces after each period

For the header, include your last name/MANUSCRIPT NAME at the left margin and the page number at the right margin. (Some publishers prefer this differently so check their guidelines before sending your manuscript.)

To indicate breaks between scenes, either double space twice, or double space, type three asterisks* * * or pound symbols # # # with spaces between them, center them, then another double space.

 If you use Word, don't type the three symbols fast because Word considers that instructions to do something weird to your formating.  

I prefer to use the three symbols because that makes it easier to tell scene breaks when the scene ends at the bottom or top of a page.

For each new chapter, drop down 4 inches, then type the chapter heading in caps-- CHAPTER TWO, center that, then double space to begin the text.

Some word processing programs make it pretty darn difficult to get the format perfect, particularly the 25 lines per page. If you have one of these programs, I use iPage which is one of them, it’s better to fiddle with the top and bottom margins and the line spacing so you have the 25 pages than to have the other format elements perfect.


Most epublishers want the literal word count, not the NY publisher formatted word count.  Sometimes, they'll tell you so on their site; sometimes, they won't.

Epublishers who don't have a print line tend not to be so hung up on word count because the word count doesn't matter as much.

Paper publishers, however, have to figure in the cost of paper as well as maintaining a certain size of book.  

These days, to cut expenses, most of the big paper publishers don't want a book over 100,000 words from an unpublished or midlist author.  

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Links of Interest

GENRE SALES NUMBERS: Pimp My Book is looking at sales numbers for various popular genres. A very general overview, but his lack of information on the specific makes his commentary less than useful for those in that market.


THE GOOGLE SETTLEMENT: Microsoft, Yahoo, and Amazon join in against the Google settlement.

CRAFT: Reasons and solutions to why you can’t finish writing that book.

PLOT/CRAFT: An excellent series of articles on story structure.

PROMOTION: What does and doesn’t make a good website.

PROMOTION: What is your online persona? This site analyzes all the places where your name appears online. Not surprisingly, mine is equal parts books and education, but I also have a solid presence in religion for no reason I can think of.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Dollar of Trust, CRAFT

I recently read an online discussion of whether readers of paranormal romance are as put off by poor research or bad science as other readers. Whether you believe this is true or not, as a writer, you must consider this.

Imagine that a reader gives you a dollar’s worth of trust by reading your book. That trust means she expects you to give her certain things like a good story, interesting characters, and competent craft, among other things.

Every time your story fails in one of these elements, the reader takes away a bit of that money, and when there is no money left, the reader tosses the book without finishing it and will no longer trust you enough to buy the next book.

Maybe, every time the reader spots a grammatical mistake, she may take a nickel out of that dollar, or if she really hates grammatical errors, that error may cost you a quarter or the whole dollar.

Do you really want to risk losing that reader by being sloppy with grammar, science, or plot logic?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Links of Interest

CRAFT: Three person conversations in fiction. How to make them work.

WORLDBUILDING: A physicist explains time travel.

PROMOTION: Social Networking in 15 minutes. General overview.

PROMOTION AND SALES NUMBERS: How to use Amazon’s book sale ranking to determine how effective a current promotion is.

SFWA says no.

The National Writers Union says no.

Possible Class Action Lawsuit:

PROMOTION: Should you hire a publicist?

CRAFT: How to tighten up that manuscript.

MARKET NEWS: From “Publisher’s Lunch”

“Angela James has joined Quartet Press as editorial director. Previously she was with Samhain Publishing.”

GENRE SALES NUMBERS: Pimp My Book is looking at sales numbers for various popular genres. A very general overview, but his lack of information on the specific makes his commentary less than useful for those in that market.





Monday, August 17, 2009

What Genre Is It? CRAFT

If a novel is cross-genre, one of the genres must be the strongest and its genre tropes and plot must drive the novel throughout.

A werewolf novel that is driven forward by the worldbuilding and various werewolf political/pack struggles is urban fantasy or horror.  A werewolf novel where boy wolf meets girl vampire, and they fall in love during various werewolf and vampire struggles is a paranormal romance.
You must understand what the central genre of your novel is so your novel doesn't fail by genre standards, and you will know where to market it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Links of Interest

THE AUTHOR BIO: What should be in it for query letters.

QUERIES: What not to do in a query letter.

WORLDBUILDING: Patricia C. Wrede’s worldbuilding questions have a new URL:

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Terms used by the publishing industry.

CONTRACTS: Agent Jenny Bent discusses publishing contracts.

PROMOTION: Why A Video Will Sell Your Book

CRAFT: Ten Things to Spark Creative Ideas

CRAFT: Why a writer should know grammar.

PROMOTION: What every author website needs to contain.

EDITOR INTERVIEW: Editor Angela James of Samhain.

GENRE SALES NUMBERS: Pimp My Book is looking at sales numbers for various popular genres. A very general overview, but his lack of information on the specific makes his commentary less than useful for those in that market.




Monday, August 10, 2009

The Danger of AOL and Other Free Email Services

Since AOL has become a free service, they have been attaching graphic advertising at the bottom. Most of the other freebies do as well.

Why is this a problem? Many editors and agents clearly state in their guidelines that they delete any email unread that has an attachment.

Others in the business have spam filters which will probably delete your email when it arrives.

If you want your query or submission read, use a paid email service that doesn’t attach ads.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Links of Interest

EDITOR INTERVIEW: Deb Werksman of SourceBook.

AGENTS; You’ve finished your novel and polished it to perfection. Now what? Agent Jessica Faust of Bookends tells you about the submissions process.

MARKETS: A listing of science fiction, fantasy, and horror anthologies.

CRAFT: The difference between craft and story and how each can trash your novel.

BUSINESS OF WRITING: When is it time to give up on a manuscript?

BUSINESS OF WRITING: “What can you do to sell you book, and more importantly, when should you do what?”

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hot, Warm, and Cold Viewpoint, CRAFT

QUESTION: What exactly is hot viewpoint? How is it different from other types of viewpoint?

Hot viewpoint is about the viewpoint character's emotional reaction to what is happening. Hot viewpoint is full of sensual details, strong emotions, and important/dangerous/violent actions. Most hot viewpoint moments are action scenes full of adrenaline, love scenes, or physical or emotional fight scenes which can include an argument between characters.

Cold viewpoint has almost no emotion involved. It’s a simple recital of facts or what’s happening.

Warm viewpoint is halfway between them with emotions of importance, but not extreme importance.


COLD: Pamela glanced at the doors' numbers as she passed them.  Room 82 should be just ahead.

WARM: Pamela smiled as she glanced at the hotel room numbers.  Tom said he's be in in Room 82.  He'd promised her champagne, roses, and a night of passion.  A night to remember.  She could hardly wait.

HOT:  The slight cheesy stench of the alien made Pamela's nose twitch as she leaned against the hallway wall.  Her hands were sweating so much she feared she'd drop the Colt she held in her right hand.  With a quick prayer for courage, she eased toward Room 82 and kicked in the door.

For a writer, it's not so important to know the difference in an intellectual way, but to understand it instinctively as we write.  If we are inside the character and feel what she feels, we are more likely to get it right.