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August 2nd, 2002, 06:54 AM
This may sound a little infantile but please bear with me...

I have been browsing the 'paying markets' and have submitted a number of Short Stories, some successfully, some bomb like a Led Zep. I have also entered a few comps.

The thing is, I have come across dozens of different submission requirement combinations.

Put it this way, I have not been able to send a formatted story for one publication or comp without changing it slightly for another publication or comp.

Can you give me your opinions on prudent layout for work that I can use as a rule-of-thumb.

For example, when double spacing lines, should paragraphs have two spaces, or one space and an indent (how many indent spaces?). Should dialogue always appear on a new line?

Your thoughts, as always, greatly appreciated.

BTW. My latest published work was double spaced, indent paras and a new line for dialogue.

There is also a horses for courses view out there on sending submissions in an email, attached or pasted into the message etc.

August 2nd, 2002, 07:01 AM
In my experience, MS subs should always be double-spaced, in a Courier 12 point font, with one inch margins all round. Paragraphs can be indented (usually half an inch) but you should never leave an extra space in between them.

Italics should be indicated by underlining, oh, and yes, always a new line for dialogue.

These are the main guidelines which most houses will accept, however, many have their own requirements as well, which can be a nuisance. :)

August 2nd, 2002, 07:04 AM
Ah yes, 12 pt Courier I have come across too.


August 2nd, 2002, 07:28 AM
I also have a small article of TIPS (http://www.sffworld.com/authors/c/cladingboel_neil_charles/articles/tipsfornew.html) which you may find useful, if you haven't stumbled across them already.

August 2nd, 2002, 07:36 AM
A usefull article, thanks for that.

What are your thoughts on Literary Agents, not so much for Short Stories but novels?

All rejections for novels (In my experience) come back with a note stating that the publishing houses do not accept un-solicited works.

What is the best way to approach Agents? Let me guess... you have an article?


August 2nd, 2002, 07:46 AM
No, sorry, I don't have one for that subject, although it has been discussed in other threads here. ;)Not many publishers accept unsolicited submissions now. Many require that they be assessed by a MS assesment service, or indeed, only accept them through an agent.

I received the very same form rejection letter from TOR as did another author here who submitted through an agent. So I guess it made little difference in this particular case!

I don't have an agent as I can't afford one, and those who only work from a percentage once a sale is made, without wanting a retainer or fee for service, probably won't be working all that hard for you.

Gemquest, I think you may have had more experience with agents than I have, so, any suggestions here?

August 2nd, 2002, 07:49 AM
All rejections for novels (In my experience) come back with a note stating that the publishing houses do not accept un-solicited works.

I must be lucky never had that even when I have sent to publishers that don't take un-solicited works. The work was rejected,(mostly by an e.mail) but I must have got something right in the covering letter to have them pick it out of the "pile" for them to read my e.mail address *g*

As for the agent thing, I have found it a "catch 22" good agents are not interested, unless a publisher is sniffing around and bad ones, well.....

"Watch out there be sharks out there!"

Am in the process of preparing another submission and I find this the hardest bit of all. Not only the writing of the submission letter, chapter breakdown etc, but waiting for my friend/editor/deomon from hell *g*, to send back my final amended version with the approval stamp on *g*

August 2nd, 2002, 07:51 AM

Care to comment on your approach to query letters, as you are obviosuly doing something right to get noticed.


P.S. Synopses, now that's another issue. Big 'E' any articles???:)

August 2nd, 2002, 08:00 AM
No articles on that either...sorry! :) However, I do have a couple of my own teaser synopsises, although these are not quite the same as those you would send a publisher or editor.

I do have a useful LINK (http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/pubsubs.htm), however, which contains a mine of very helpful material.

Gary Wassner
August 2nd, 2002, 01:32 PM
Yes, Erebus. I have a little more experience with agents, though not positive experience! I believe that the only time an agent can be useful is if they are a well known, credible agent. Otherwise, I think your odds of having a manuscript read any more seriously by virtue of the agent's name on the envelope are slim. Of course, just because an agent is representing you your manuscripts can be submitted to all of those houses which, for some unknown reason, do not accept them directly from the author! So, for many, that alone makes the agent worthwhile. But, again, I think that all a small time, unknown agent gets you is through the mail room, and unfortunately not on an editor's desk!
If i sign again with any agent, it will only be one who has a long and successful track record. You have every right to ask any prosepctive agent what they have sold recently and to which publishers. Also, you should get a list of their current clients and email them for recommendations as well. If they are reluctant to give you this information, look elsewhere. Additionally, do not agree to pay any fees up front! Their incentive must be to sell your book! You should not be paying their rent while they send out package after package to publishers that don't get opened and don't get read. Make sure you read all the rejection letters yourself. Do not let an agent 'transcribe' them for you and give you their take on the reasons.

as far as submissions go: Erebus pretty much outlined the basics. Most publishers want your name and the name of the submission on the top of each page as well. Just a note of caution: you need to conform with their specific requirements! Take your time in preparing each submission and read the requirements carefully. Baen, for example, asks for a different font and a different format than most of the others. Some want the pages numbered on top, some on the bottom - silly stuff, but i guess with the thousands of things they receive each month, it makes it easier for them to process.