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Thread: formatting a novel for electronic submission

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW TellMeAStory's Avatar
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    formatting a novel for electronic submission

    I can find information about paper submissions, but it seems to me that all that nonsense about starting a chapter 1/3 down the page and starting every chapter on a new page wouldn't apply to electronic format.

    All that empty space wouldn't be allowing for reviewers' penned comments, just require annoying repetitive sweeping down to where the words start up again.

    Or am I wrong again?

    Instructions are to use Submittable.

  2. #2
    Ships full of vampires are hell. AW Moderator amergina's Avatar
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    Unless there are specific formatting instructions, use standard manuscript formatting.
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  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW indianroads's Avatar
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    Submitting to who or what?

    If you're self publishing on Amazon, they have instructions and templates you can use.
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  4. #4
    Beastly Fido Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    Are you subbing a word (or doc/docx, or rtf) file as an attachment? If so, one generally uses SMF. If you're pasting a smaller portion of a work into an e-mail, one usually single spaces with an extra line between paragraphs. I believe, and puts contact information at the bottom of the salutation or query portion of the e-mail.

    Note, some older SMF instructions on the web are pretty out of date, so be sure to check a source that was put up or revised in the past few years. Most agents and editors don't require (and some don't want) courier instead of TNR font, for instance.
    Last edited by Roxxsmom; 08-11-2017 at 10:44 PM.
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  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW benbenberi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roxxsmom View Post
    Most agents and editors don't require (and some don't want) courier instead of TNR font, for instance.
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  6. #6
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Standard formatting is fine, after all they are not using this version for customers. Personally I did change it to remove the extra lines and double spacing when I was submitting and that was not treated as unusual, but I doubt it is critical. Check whether the publisher has specific or instructions or a style guide on their website.
    Emily Veinglory

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW TellMeAStory's Avatar
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    Thanks to amergina, indianroads,roxxmom,benbenberi, and vainglory.

    It's for a contest. They want the whole darn novel sent via Submittable. The contest's website gives no instructions about formatting, or I wouldn't be bothering you good people.

    But page breaks? Why page breaks on electronic pages?
    Last edited by TellMeAStory; 08-12-2017 at 04:05 PM.

  8. #8
    Ships full of vampires are hell. AW Moderator amergina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TellMeAStory View Post
    Thanks to amergina, indianroads,roxxmom,benbenberi, and vainglory.

    It's for a contest. They want the whole darn novel sent via Submittable. The contest's website gives no instructions about formatting, or I wouldn't be bothering you good people.

    But page breaks? Why page breaks on electronic pages?
    After chapters? Because formatting helps, even with electronic documents.

    Look, I've done some beta-reading recently for friends. They've sent me a Word document, and I've forwarded it to my Kindle paperwhite so I can read it there. (Yes, you can do this.) And you know what? It's *nice* to have those chapters start on a fresh page, because reading a Word file on my Kindle is like reading a book, rather than scrolling through a manuscript on my laptop. Those page breaks enhance my e-reading experience.

    It's because we still read ebooks on e-readers similarly to the way we read paper books. With ebooks, the chapters start on new pages. I mean... there's only so much text that fits on an e-reader screen, and... e-readers are designed to be read similarly to paper books. You tap the side of the screen and the page "turns". Same with e-reader apps on phones.

    Pretty much the only way you're gonna scroll through a manuscript vertically and not flip pages is if you're reading on a laptop. And even then, It'll look darn sloppy if they open your word doc and there's no page breaks, you know?
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  9. #9
    the possibilities are endless noranne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roxxsmom View Post
    Note, some older SMF instructions on the web are pretty out of date, so be sure to check a source that was put up or revised in the past few years. Most agents and editors don't require (and some don't want) courier instead of TNR font, for instance.
    And thank goodness!

    Also: generally nowadays you leave your italics as italics, not underlined.
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  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW TellMeAStory's Avatar
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    Thank you amergina. NOW I understand.

    I have no wish to look sloppy.

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW Jan74's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amergina View Post
    After chapters? Because formatting helps, even with electronic documents.

    Look, I've done some beta-reading recently for friends. They've sent me a Word document, and I've forwarded it to my Kindle paperwhite so I can read it there. (Yes, you can do this.) And you know what? It's *nice* to have those chapters start on a fresh page, because reading a Word file on my Kindle is like reading a book, rather than scrolling through a manuscript on my laptop. Those page breaks enhance my e-reading experience.

    It's because we still read ebooks on e-readers similarly to the way we read paper books. With ebooks, the chapters start on new pages. I mean... there's only so much text that fits on an e-reader screen, and... e-readers are designed to be read similarly to paper books. You tap the side of the screen and the page "turns". Same with e-reader apps on phones.

    Pretty much the only way you're gonna scroll through a manuscript vertically and not flip pages is if you're reading on a laptop. And even then, It'll look darn sloppy if they open your word doc and there's no page breaks, you know?
    Thank goodness....since I've been putting page breaks in! I have mine formatted for self publishing so I don't have double space etc, but I figure if I do attempt finding an agent I can easily insert double spacing.

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  12. #12
    Go down road, go pub. Mary Mitchell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jan74 View Post
    Thank goodness....since I've been putting page breaks in! I have mine formatted for self publishing so I don't have double space etc, but I figure if I do attempt finding an agent I can easily insert double spacing.
    Don't forget when you do switch to double spacing to find the beginning of each chapter and re-position it a third of the way down the page--because the double spacing will shove all that other stuff out of whack.
    It's a simple fact of life that not everyone will be your target audience.

  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW benbenberi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Mitchell View Post
    Don't forget when you do switch to double spacing to find the beginning of each chapter and re-position it a third of the way down the page--because the double spacing will shove all that other stuff out of whack.
    Which is a good reason why it's best to set special formatting like that through settings in your app and not manually. (For instance, in Word you could create a style called CHAPTER TITLE that includes a page break before and positions it a third down the page, and as long as you use CHAPTER TITLE style for every Chapter One, Chapter Two, etc. it doesn't matter how the rest of the text is spaced, and if you change your mind about that page break before chapters you just update CHAPTER TITLE style definition once and every chapter changes.)

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