Writing Books/formatting




Followup To

Question -
I am in the middle of writing a dream book and am unsure as to formatting for publisher.
the dream lets say in your dream you are an air steward:
Air Stewardess:Dependant on a complete stranger.  or
Air Stewardess:
         Dependant on a complete stranger.
can you please help me as to the correct formatting as I am very confused and can find no help on the internet.
thank you for your time,

Answer -
Well, wipe that confusion out of your head, Rosemary.

Formatting is the decision of the publisher, not the author.  So you're off the hook.

When you submit the manuscript to them, you'll use "standard" formatting... which means double-spaced, 1" margins all around, etc.

Beyond that, it doens't matter, because they're going to make the decision on how they want the actual printed book to look.
Thank you for your quick responce Mr. Wales,
now i am going to sound like a complete idiot
Car. expensive self driving. In control of an executive decision. is this correct?

Okay, if I were typing this up for submission, I'd do it like this:

CAR - Expensive, self-driving, in control of an executive decision.

Now, again, the publisher may change how it looks.  They may decide that "car" should not be all in caps, that it should instead be italicized and boldfaced.  They might decide that the meanings should be underneath "car" and indented, like your second "air stewardess" example.  (And by the way, they're called "flight attendants" these days.)  I should also mention that although layout formatting is the publisher's duty, proper spelling and punctuation is not.  That's on you.  A manuscript sent to them that has words spelled incorrectly, punctuation used improperly, or poor grammar won't even be considered for publication.

My reason for captalizing "car" and putting the dash afterward was simply to make it unmistakably clear the relation of the word to the definitions.  And that's all your goal really is, at this point.  Make that part clear, and leave the rest to them.

The only exception to my rule is this:  if you're using a subsidy publisher (one in which you're paying them a fee to do your book, rather than them paying you up front), they do NOT do any interior formatting for you.  They just print whatever you send them, exactly as you send it to them.  So if that's the route you're going, YOU need to decide on a format, and then stick to it.  But the "up" side to that is that you can have it look however you'd like it to.

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Vincent M. Wales


I am a speculative fiction novelist (fantasy, science fiction, and so on). While I may be able to answer questions on non-fiction, my specialty is fiction. Please keep that in mind when asking questions.


For four years, I taught a series of fiction writing classes in Sacramento, CA.

BA in fiction writing.

Awards and Honors
My 2004 novel, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, won BEST FICTION in Fresh Voices 2006, BEST FICTION and BEST YA FICTION in the NCPA Book Awards, and placed as a finalist in BEST BOOKS 2005. In 2002, my novel WISH YOU WERE HERE won awards for Best Fantasy and Best Fiction/Drama in the 8th Annual SPA Awards. My latest work is a trilogy titled THE MANY DEATHS OF DYNAMISTRESS (a superhero memoir). The first book, RECKONING, was released in 2013 and won the SF category in the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, took second place in the 2013 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for the SF/Fantasy/Paranormal category, second place in the SF category of the 2013 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, and was finalist in Foreword's 2013 Book of the Year Awards, Fantasy category. The second book, REDEMPTION, will be released in early 2015 and the final book, RENAISSANCE, is scheduled for release in late 2016.

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