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I am a writer - late developer since I wasn't published until I was 50. I have now written 23 novels, numerous short stories and articles.


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Sunday, 14 March 2010
PRESENTATION OF TYPESCRIPT – UK market. Many agents and editors now accept electronic presentations. The two require the same amount of attention to detail. You might think that some requirements are odd but it is a bit like etiquette – there is a reason for everything even if, at first, it does not appear sane. If sending hard copy then – A messy t/s is an amateur’s. A pristine is that of a professional. If an agent sees a dog-eared t/s it shows it has been elsewhere and was rejected; and you are one down immediately. Your aim is to make the agent or editors task as trouble-free as possible. If sending a whole m/s or a partial the following applies for both. 1.The Title Page. Centre the title Author’s name. Or pseudonym. Approx number of words – rounded off. This numbering is important, from it they will calculate the page run and thus the cost to produce your book. Bottom corner; authors real name. Address. Telephone number. Email address. Include your synopsis 2.The typescript will be: A4 paper. Double spaced. Why? For notes and corrections. One side of paper. No justification. Why? It makes word calculation harder. Wide margin on L hand side. Why? Again this is space if notes are to be written. No fancy fonts. E.g. to use - Times New Roman, Calibri Font size of 12 min. Number pages consecutively. If you have made an error and there is no page 90, then write on the script that there isn’t. A header with identification is sensible. (name of novel and authors name.) Why? What if it is dropped along with others? All new paragraphs are indented except for the first which is always blocked to the left hand. Check blank lines used for what they are intended – change of scene, change of time, change of VP - then you need a space and block to left. If in doubt check any novel. All dialogue should be indented. Check for spelling and grammar errors. Do Not: 1. Staple together – you want to be published not impale an editor. 2. Use plastic folders for individual chapters. 3. Use ring binders.(secure with elastic band.) 4. Include jacket design. 5. Ideas for promotions Or jacket blurb. Enclose stamp addressed envelope for return or, tell them to bin it. Get receipt of proof of postage. Recorded delivery means hassle the other end. By all means include s/a card for acknowledging receipt. KEEP A COPY FOR YOURSELF. A Partial. If submitting a partial then pages must be consecutive, Say pages 1 – 70. DO NOT include Chap One, Chap 4 and Chap 10. Because you think they are the best! Unless asked to provide a chapter-by-chapter outline of your novel, don’t. The Covering Letter. LESS is MORE: This letter is a courtesy, a means of introducing yourself, and giving your contact details. Too much and they aren’t reading the precious m/s. And I’ve been told that a badly written, boring letter, is sufficient to cause rejection – since it points to bad writing ahead. So what to say? • USE A NAME: people like their name to be used. Sir/Madame you’ve not done your research, they feel one of many. It’s easy to find an agents name but how to find out the name of an editor. Read acknowledgments often an editor is mentioned by name. Read trade press and note who is who. • If the agent has a web site or blog, which you like, then tell her. It shows you well prepared which reflects well on you. Present your novel, after all that’s what the object of the letter is. If you have a great plot, then tell them. If there is a relevant anniversary which ties in then say so. If your career is relevant to the novel then say so. If a teacher and you’ve written about a school then say so. A nurse and it’s a hospital romance then say so. It’s an indication that you know what you are writing about. Similarly if you have anything of note as a writer – say you are a journalist, or a published short story writer, say so. Won a prize – say so. They don’t need your autobiography at this stage, unless there is something of great interest about you. You’ve written a crime story and you’ve done time. Or you married a duke or won the lottery. I’m talking BIG here. But still keep it BRIEF. Hard selling yourself is a turn off. There is a difference between being a professional author and shouting look at me. Whatever you do don’t tell them how to do their job. That is, how to market your book but there’s no harm in saying who might be your readership. Don’t say your friends, family and the dog like it. If you have an introduction from a fellow author then say so. The letter should be articulate and grammatically correct and no typos. If it isn’t what is the t/s going to be like. Is it even worth reading? Avoid: clichés and jokes. Dear Jacinta Smith, Anita Burgh suggested that I write to you. I am an Historian, at Cambridge, and my speciality is the Tudors. My novel, Time Trap, is an historical comedy. It follows the adventures of Henry VIII, who finds himself deposited by a time-machine, on the M4 in 2012 – just in time for the Olympics and the 500th anniversary of the birth of his Queen, Catherine Parr. I have had several non-fiction books published and I have won the Presley cup for short story writers . I shall look forward to hearing from you, Yours, sincerely, Fanny Percy. Request I have enjoyed doing these notes for you I think most aspects have been covered. Now it is over to you, is there any topic you want me to cover, do you have any questions you want answered. If so please let me know.


  1. I am so glad to see someone say, keep it brief. I have read, write this and this, that it has become a confusing area. Thanks for the information Anita, filed for future use.

  2. PS: Anita there is an award for you on my blog.