Writing Books/Book format


I am just starting to write a biography and would like to know the format that is required as far as double spacing. basiclaly anything I need to know so that when I type it it will be presentable to a publisher.
Thanks, laura

Dear Laura:

Good question!  Too often first time writers don't take the time or make the effort to learn the rules of submission.  There's an excellent guide out there titled 'Formatting & Submitting your Manuscript' by Jack & Glenda Neff, Don Prues and the editors of Writer's Market.  I'm sure it's available through Writer's Digest books because that's where I got my copy.  

The basics are that you should set up page margins that are one inch all around:  top, bottom, left and right.  Double spacing is absolutely required.  You should NOT align the right margin even though that's the way it's done in published books.  Leave the right margin ragged and let your software wrap the words according to the space allowed.

Each page should have a header that follows this format:
Title of Book/Your last name/Page #.  If your title is very long use a few key words in the header.  You'd be amazed how many people send in manuscripts without the pages numbered!  Accidents happen and an editor who drops your manuscript will never get it back together unless your pages are numbered.

If you decide to use footnotes, the Submission Guide can help there, too.  The Guide can also show you how to do a glossary and bibliography.  The bibliography is a requirement for library sales so make sure you include it.

For the moment, however, as you are beginning the book, keep to the double spaced pages and the header with page number.  I find that re-writing and editing in the double spaced mode is much easier than in single space.  If you're concerned about using too much paper make sure you get recycled paper to print out your drafts.

Good luck!  Let me know when the book is published!

And, I'd appreciate a good rating for my answer if it helped you!

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Liz Aleshire


What is a book proposal and why do I need one? Do I need a book proposal for both nonfiction and fiction books? How do I write a book proposal? What are the required components of a book proposal? What is an overview? What is a synopsis? How do I find out what other books are available on my topic so I can make my book different? How do I pitch to an agent/publisher? What's a query letter? What's a 30-second commercial?


I am the author of four nonfiction books: Private Lives of Ministers' Wives (with Rev. Sherry Taylor,New Horizon Press, New Jersey, 1991)and currently working on a second edition; Bugs: Stingers, Suckers, Sweeties, Swingers (a FRanklin Watts Frist Book, Chicago, 1993); The Confident Collector Identification and Price Guid to Quilts (with Kathleen Barach, Avon Books, NY, 1992); and, Official Price Guide to Quilts 2nd edition(with Kathleen Barach, Random House, NY, 2003.) I've taught How to Write the Book Proposal for the past ten years at the week long International Women's Writing Guild annual summer conference, and, at the Manchester Community College Continuing Education program. I've taught in many local continuing education programs in central Connecticut. Five authors have sold books using my methods for writing the book proposal. I have spoken at the Big Apple Conference, an IWWG event held in NYC; both Connecticut chapters of the Romance Writer's of America other writing conferences

Internation Women's Writing Guild, past associate member American Society of Journalists and Authors

Books for New Horizon Press. NJ; Franklin Watts (Now Scolastic)Danbury, CT; Avon Books, NYC; and, Random House, NYC

B.A in Economics from the University of Connecticut

Past/Present clients
Carren Strock, author Married Women Who Love Women; Doris Larson, travel writer, Ohio; MaryLou Streznewsi author Gifted Grownups.

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