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My first question may be too personal but it leads to a response that would be helpful to all of us who have a desire to publish what we write....

When you are first laying your story on paper, what do you use? Do you write in longhand?  Use a manual typewriter?  A word processor (and if so, what word processing program?   A computer using writing software?  If so, what?  

This came up as an issue over a meal the other day.  I do a lot of writing, not ready at all for publishing, but it's non-fiction and eventually I plan to submit it to various professional journals - all of whom have their own formatting rules - and probably more mainstream publications who probably also have their own formatting rules for manuscript submission.  Anyway, I am not concerned with formatting right now.  I just type and type using MS Word and figure I can cut and paste or retype as necessary when time comes to submit.

Another has written a non-fiction novel which he plans to shop around for a publisher in the near future.  He has his formatted using Final Cut Pro software.

Another writes fiction, short stories mostly, and does it in longhand and has never submitted.

I am wondering what considerations regarding formatting should an aspiring author concern him/herself with while writing the manuscript?   Do different publishers have different requirements?  

Thank you for volunteering here!  Your credentials are awesome.  I haven't read any of your stuff but you are obviously very skilled at the business of marketing yourself and your work.  Congratulations!

Answer
Hi, savannah!

Wow! Lots of questions. :)  See below. I'll put my answers in ALL CAPS:

My first question may be too personal but it leads to a response that would be helpful to all of us who have a desire to publish what we write....

When you are first laying your story on paper, what do you use? Do you write in longhand?  Use a manual typewriter?  A word processor (and if so, what word processing program?   A computer using writing software?  If so, what?

I HAVE USED A COMPUTER SINCE COMPUTERS EXISTED. I PREFER COREL WORDPERECT TO TYPE MOSTLY BECAUSE I'M A TYPIST BY TRADE (IT'S MY DAY JOB TOO!) WORDPERFECT HAS A LOT OF FEATURES FOR THOSE WHO PREFER TO CREATE THEIR OWN FORMATTING. IT DOESN'T FORCE YOU INTO A "ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL" SITUATION. I THEN REFORMAT INTO MSWORD BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT MOST PUBLISHERS USE.

This came up as an issue over a meal the other day.  I do a lot of writing, not ready at all for publishing, but it's non-fiction and eventually I plan to submit it to various professional journals - all of whom have their own formatting rules - and probably more mainstream publications who probably also have their own formatting rules for manuscript submission.  Anyway, I am not concerned with formatting right now.  I just type and type using MS Word and figure I can cut and paste or retype as necessary when time comes to submit.

YOU *SHOULD* BE CONCERNED WITH FORMATTING RIGHT NOW, BECAUSE IT'S A PAIN IN THE TAIL TO FIX AFTERWARD! WHILE THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS, MOST PUBLICATIONS HAVE SIMILAR FORMATTING REQUIREMENTS--OR AT LEAST WILL *ACCEPT* THE FOLLOWING WITHOUT MUCH FUSS:

1" MARGINS ALL AROUND
8X11 PAPER (U.S.) OR A4 (EUROPE/ASIA)
DOUBLE SPACED
PAGE NUMBER FOOTER (OR HEADER. JUST SO LONG AS IT'S NOT PART OF THE TEXT)
HARD PAGE RETURN BETWEEN CHAPTERS
SERIF FONT (SUCH AS COURIER, TIMES NEW ROMAN, CENTURY OR SILFAEN)
12PT OR 13PT FONT SIZE
LEFT JUSTIFIED
CONTACT INFORMATION

THAT'S PRETTY MUCH IT. HOW YOU PUT YOUR NAME, ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER ON THE SUBMISSION IS UP TO YOU. YOU CAN PUT IT AT THE TOP OF THE FIRST PAGE, THE BOTTOM OF THE SECOND PAGE, OR AS AN ADDITIONAL HEADER/FOOTER. BUT IT SHOULD BE THERE. :)

Another has written a non-fiction novel which he plans to shop around for a publisher in the near future.  He has his formatted using Final Cut Pro software.

"NON-FICTION" AND "NOVEL" ARE ANTONYMS. A NOVEL IS, BY DEFINITION, FICTION. THERE ARE TRUE CRIME NOVELS THAT ARE *BASED* ON REALITY. THERE ARE MEMOIRS THAT MAY BE PARTIAL FICTION. BUT A NOVEL IS BY AND LARGE FICTION.

I HAVEN'T HEARD OF FINAL CUT, BUT SO LONG AS IT CAN BE TRANSMITTED ELECTRONICALLY AS MSWORD OR RICH TEXT FORMAT (.RTF) IT SHOULD WORK FINE

Another writes fiction, short stories mostly, and does it in longhand and has never submitted.

IT WOULD BE RARE FOR A PUBLISHER TODAY TO TAKE THE TIME TO READ A LONGHAND MANUSCRIPT, EVEN SHORT FICTION. THERE MIGHT BE A FEW EDITORS OUT THERE WHO WOULD TAKE THE TIME, BUT IT IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY UNUSUAL. BUT IT MIGHT BE HE NEVER WISHES TO SUBMIT. THAT'S FINE TOO. :)

I am wondering what considerations regarding formatting should an aspiring author concern him/herself with while writing the manuscript?   Do different publishers have different requirements?  

SEE ABOVE. I ALSO WROTE A GREAT GLOSSARY OF FORMATTING TERMINOLOGY THAT MIGHT HELP YOU AS YOU PROCEED TOWARD PUBLICATION. SOME OF THE TERMINOLOGY CAN BE CONFUSING WHEN YOU'RE FIRST STARTING OUT. YOU MIGHT FIND IT USEFUL. HERE'S A LINK:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=26126

HOPE THAT HELPS A LITTLE. GOOD LUCK AND LET ME KNOW IF YOU HAVE ANY OTHER QUESTIONS.

CATHY

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Volunteer


Cathy Clamp

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

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

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

Education/Credentials
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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