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Hello, my name's Marion and I've been wanting to write a book for awhile. I'm 16 and I've been told from a few people that I could probably be a writer because I read so much.
I finally came up with a decent idea and have started writing, but some questions have been stuck in my head. How long is an average chapter typed on Microsoft Word? What size font is the best to use? When I'm finished writing, I want someone who knows what they're doing to edit it, but who? And if it's good enough how, how do I get it published?

Hi, Marion!

Congrats for taking the first step to become a writer. Coming up with the subject is often the hardest part.  As for your questions:

1.  There's no "average" length of a chapter. They can be from one page to 50. It all depends on the contents of the chapter. Take a look at the books you enjoy reading. What marks a chapter break? It can be a critical moment in the plot---from a crisis moment to an emotional revelation. Or, it can be a break in time or location, with the character ending a day or leaving a shop (with the next chapter opening the following morning, or arriving somewhere else).

2.  If you're typing in MS Word, you'll be using double spacing (the norm for manuscripts) and it's not page count that matters, but word count. The average adult novel is between 85,000 and 100,000 words, which is about 350-400 double spaced pages. Your best font is either Courier New or Times New Roman (which is normally the default font in Word). They're called "serif fonts" because of the little tags on the bottoms of letters. Arial and Verdana (what websites are often typed in) are "non-serif fonts" and shouldn't be used for submitting. But feel free to type in whatever makes you happy. Just change it before sending it in to agents or publishers.

3.  Any commercial publisher has editors, but you're going to want to learn to do as much as you can yourself. The publisher is going to rely on YOU to make editorial changes and corrections. It's not just a matter of turning the book in and forgetting it. You'll have style (content) edits, copy edits and galley edits over the course of publication, so it's important to beef up your grammar and composition skills as much as possible! Now's the time to do it, too, when you have English teachers ready and able to help you get up to speed. After high school, there'll be as much work, but it won't be free.

As for publication, start with writing the book. It's not until it's done that you'll know your genre (where in the bookstore it would sit on the shelf.) Sometimes you THINK you know what it will be and the book will surprise you, so just concentrate on the writing for now. Once you're done (and you'll have to be done for a debut novel) feel free to write back and I'll get you started in the right direction. :)

Good luck with it, and feel free to ask if you have any other questions!


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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