Formatting Guidelines
 

Before you submit your book to us, we ask that you follow the guidelines on this page. It must be formatted according to our guidelinesbefore you send it to us. The guidelines below are not difficult, but it will require attention on your part.

 

The books you submit to us must be a Microsoft Word file. If you use Word 2007, make sure you have installed the Office 2007Service Pack 2 to avoid a bug that deletes spaces between words. Link here: http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=5

 

Page Layout

1. 1" margins all around; 8.5 by 11 inch paper

2. No headers or footers

Headers and Footers are crucial in books in print, but they are useless in an ebook. Every device uses a different sized screen, so page numbers in a header would be useless. And whatever other information you might put in a header will take up screen real estate badly needed for the book itself. If you have already established headers or footers in your book, delete all content within them. If your book eventually goes to print, we'll put the headers back.

3. No page numbers

4. No section breaks

Ebook formats don't recognize section breaks.

5. No indents at beginning of paragraphs-no tab markers

Some ebook formats don't recognize TABS. This would have disastrous results if paragraph separation depends on indents separating paragraphs. No doubt you've already used TABS to indent and now you're thinking, "Help! What do I do now?" This is what you do--

1> First single space the entire document. This is very important.
2> Put the cursor at the beginning of the document.
3> Open the Find/Replace window.
4> In the Find field put a paragraph marker followed by a TAB character. To do this, find the "Special" dropdown menu. (It'll be there somewhere, although how you reveal it varies from one version of Word to another.) At the top of the list you'll see "Paragraph Marker" and "Tab Character". Select one, then the other until they are both in the Find field, paragraph marker first, tab character second, and there should be no space between them.
5> In the Replace field put two paragraph markers, once again using the Special dropdown menu to access them.
6> Click the "Replace All" button.

6. Single space lines within paragraphs

7. Single space after periods at the ends of sentences

Do a quick find and replace to fix this. Search for two spaces and replace with one space, and you do this in the find and replace box. You need to click the Find/Replace button, repeating the find-replace, until "0" appears in the box. When you see the zero you will know that all double spaces have been replaced by single spaces.

8. Double paragraph return/hard break at end of each paragraph

Double paragraph return refers to two lines separating each paragraph with no indents (Tab characters) used. If you don't know how to delete the Tabs and replace with a double hard return between paragraphs using search and replace, go to 5 above. DO NOT USE MANUAL LINE BEAKS (SHIFT+ENTER). DO NOT PUT SPACES BEFORE OR AFTER THE PARAGRAPH RETURNS.

9. Center chapter heads in BOLD type with capital and lower case letters (Chapter Twenty-one using FORMAT CENTER, not tab key; and put one hard break before and after it. Do not use the TAB key to center text! When centering, use the format button available to you in the menu bar, or on the format dropdown menu which is now used in the newer versions of Word. Using the TAB key does not center. It only approximates. Centering using TABS will be unrecognized in most ebook formats and that formatting will be lost. So please don't center this way.

10. Spell out number of chapter (i.e., "Three" not "3"). Use 12 point font. BOLD TYPE.

11. Center scene breaks using FORMAT CENTER, not the tab key; the preferred format is ~ * ~ one hard break before and after and a space before and after the *.a page break

12. Page breaks: should be used after last paragraph in a chapter, insert one hard break then a page break.

 

 MANUSCRIPT STYLES:

13.  Use Times New Roman font, and set it for 12 point.

14> Turn off all special formatting

15> Do not use styles. They will have to be removed for formatting. Electronic publishing requires a very 'stripped down' file to work with. So, please, if you already have styles in your book file, Select all, then choose "Normal" for the style. You might have to put back attributes like italics and centering,

16> In fiction numbers are generally spelled out. Some numbers are acceptable, such as year (1863, 2005), a full date (25 January 1973, July 4, 1776) military time (0745, 2230), house numbers (421 Main, 20512 East Thirty-fourth Street), but when in doubt, check a good style manual or English composition text.

17> Avoid the use of symbols or abbreviations whenever possible (e.g., percent, not %; Avenue, not Ave.).

18> Foreign words should be italicized. Be careful about diacritical marks; they are often important and a wrong or missing one can make a word's meaning change. Foreign names and place names are usually not italicized.If you must use them, keep them to an absolute minimum.

Many readers don't enjoy plowing through words with accent marks they don't know how to interpret. Foreign words will be left as is. We will not attempt to correctly spell or change an incorrect word to the correct one. Same goes for references to popular culture or technical jargon of any type. Further, we discourage authors from overusing these references (foreign languages, etc.). While the author may understand the term, many readers might not and may be turned off to a book because of them.

 

19> Use italics instead of underlines for inner thoughts, emphasis and foreign characters/words.Do not use underlined characters. We seldom use underlined characters in novels.

20> Avoid using em dashes. Instead use 2 simple hyphens--the character you access with a simple press of the hyphen key--in place of the one long em dash, instead of using parentheses for parenthetical expressions. They should be 2 hyphens with no spaces before and after. If you use spaces we could end up with 2 hyphens on its own line because they can break into the next line at these spaces and orphan themselves from the preceding parent sentence. Dashes are used exactly like parentheses--to add information or to introduce momentarily a different topic--and as discussed below. Don't overdo them; they're distracting.

Warning! MS Word has an automatic em dash so that when you type 2 hyphens, Word will automatically replace them with 1 em dash. Please turn off this irritating feature in your Word preferences. Just type in 2 hyphens, with no spaces between and no spaces at front or back. The 2 hyphens should sit--between words like I've just illustrated.

21> Use ellipses for omissions in quoted material or for showing incomplete thoughts or faltering speech or thought.

Do not format ellipses and do not space between the periods in an ellipsis. (i.e., ... not . . .). Spaced periods will wrap around from the middle of an ellipse. Then we have half the ellipse at the end of one line and the other half at the beginning of another. Warning! MS Word has an automatic ellipse. Please turn it off in your Word preferences. Just type in 3 periods, no spaces between and no spaces at front or back. The 3 dots should sit...between words.

22> Ending sentences. Whenever possible, stick with periods or question marks to end sentences.  Use exclamation marks sparingly; they have far more effect that way. When a sentence ends with an ellipse, (3 dots) you can leave it as if it is deliberately or grammatically incomplete (e.g., "If you ever..." or "I wish..."). There are instances where adding a fourth dot, a question mark, or an exclamation point is correct, but they are rare, so the rule here is not to do it unless you are absolutely certain it is correct. When in doubt, use a period and you'll probably be safe.

 

PUT A TITLE ON YOUR BOOK! You would be amazed how many authors send us manuscripts without a title!

PUT YOUR NAME BELOW THE TITLE! Again, you'd be surprised how many authors forget to tell us that they are the author! Also,put your EMAIL address below your name. This won't be included in the published version of your book, but it will help keep track of your book.

 

COMMON PROBLEMS:

Please go over all of these points when you polish your manuscript.

 1. I would like you to look for repetition of words (descriptive words should not be repeated within a two page window.)

 2. Some problem words and phrases:
 And then, took, only, just, well, and got: to name a few (should be used rarely if at all) They are poor choices and are not descriptive words
 Be careful of THAT: Reread the sentence if it makes sense without the word THAT delete the word.
 Be careful of IT: Ask yourself what it is, then replace the word it with those words.

 3. Punctuation and capitalization around quotations.

 4. Please check point of view and make sure you are not head hopping. One point of view per scene. This is very important to your story. The article at this link is very helpful in understanding pov and how important pov is to your story. This link also explains showing vs. telling.

http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/POV.shtml

 5. Check tags and make sure they are not redundant ie. "Get dressed. Meet me at the church," he said out loud. (This is redundant. Because it is dialogue we know it is said out loud.)
 
6. Be careful of overused phrases such as--he/she sighed, he/she nodded, he/she shook her head etc.

 7. Check your spellings of: to, too, and two.

 8. When you write dialogue, please check and make sure you have a comma at the end of the dialogue before the quotation mark when you have a tag. i.e.
   "Explain it to me," she said.

 9. Your tag needs to be, he/she said or he/she asked. Mumbling, or demanding, or stuttering tend to distract the reader from what needs to be said. Don't use a tag unless it is absolutely necessary to identify the speaker.
 

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