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Magic Oxygen Publishing Tips for New Authors #2

Sad DogWe love hearing from aspiring authors, bursting with creative energy on their quest to find out what they need to do to get on the shelf.

It’s incredibly inspiring for us to hear that in an industry so often draped in rejection or no reply whatsoever to requests from new talent, writers continue to push their ideas forward with gusto.

The Team have received a few interesting manuscripts recently for a free review and are currently enjoying the warm weather and lots of cups of tea, whilst diving into them.

We thought it might be helpful to share insight on some of the common problems we’ve flagged up during our read throughs, to help you get your manuscripts in the best possible shape before you submit them to your publishing house of choice and of course, we hope that’ll be us!

Metaphorically speaking, the better the quality of hook you land into an editor, the less visual work they need to do to digest it and the more chance you have of impressing them and having your manuscript rise up through their ever expanding pile of things to do.

  • Without a shadow of a doubt, the most important thing to remember is that your work needs to deliver a high quality version of what the reader has been promised it will contain and it needs to do what it says on the tin, ie thrillers must thrill.
  • It needs to engage the reader from the very beginning, it must be wholly original work and ideally, it should be presented concisely.

For this article, we’ll assume you’ve nailed the points above and will talk briefly about presentation only.

  • Create your manuscript in Open Office or Microsoft Word.
  • Use single line spacing and standard margins.
  • Stick to one of the classic fonts, Arial, Trebuchet or Times New Roman for example and don’t use different fonts to indicate a change of perspective, i.e. adopting Comic Sans to show a diary entry. Instead, simply use italics in the same font you’ve been using to denote the difference.
  • Don’t use spaces to make things line things up. Use either centre or justify to create the look you seek and if you require the beginnings of the paragraphs to indent, use the tab key. The job of laying out your book to read well is that of the typesetter – don’t try to do their job for them!
  • If you are familiar with the styles button in your document creation software, use it to define chapter headings, we suggest Heading 2 and Paragraph for standard text.
  • Use Ctrl and Enter to create a fresh page denoting the start of a new chapter.
  • If you have accompanying images dotted through the manuscript, give the space they would inhabit a capitalised title, i.e. IMAGE ONE: DOG BY FENCE. They would be submitted under separate cover from the manuscript. Ensure that your images are correctly named so everything ties up easily.
  • Finally, use our Author’s Questionnaire to give our editing team an idea of your book and we’ll get in touch with instructions for submission.

We hope our tips have put fire in your belly and encouraged you to polish your manuscript ready for The Big Send!

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Encouragingly yours,

The Team