Honest Critiques

No, I mean it. REAL honest. Email your excerpts or full stories, up to 1000 words or so, to honestcrits [at] yahoo [dot] co [dot] uk. Synopses would also be welcome. My backlog is so daunting now that I recommend not submitting anything you are not prepared to wait a couple of months for a response on.
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  • Saturday, September 24, 2005

    FAQs (part 2)

    A new critique'll be up this evening, but first a quick question from Stephen Newton (via comment threads):

    Torgo, Do editors care what font is used in manuscripts? I've heard one should use a fixed width font like Courier others claim they only want to read Times Roman. Can you shed some light on MS preparation?

    Yes. The first thing to say is read the submission guidelines very carefully. Some, as you know, are very specific about manuscript formatting. Others don't mention it at all except to say that manuscripts ought to be typed (nobody wants longhand scripts.) So, that's pretty straightforward.

    If there's no specific guidance, Courier is safest. I have no problem reading 12-point Courier or Times, Arial or Helvetica at a pinch. I like the document set up with 1.5 or 2 lines spacing, because it's easier on the eyes. I like a line space between paragraphs and standard margins. I think if you go very far astray from those settings, it just makes things a little harder to read, and editors will feel a trifle irritated.

    However, unless you've totally ignored strict submission guidelines, or printed the whole thing out in an unreadable, tiny or very wacky typeface, your work will get read. It's not going to be the sole thing that makes an editor decide to reject it. Don't fret too much about the formatting of the book, fret about the quality.

    (For submissions to this site, it'd help me out if it was plain text with no smart quotes (you can turn them off in Word) or smart dashes, line space between paragraphs, no indents.)
    Torgo, 2:40 pm

    3 Comments:

    Thanks very much, Torgo!
    Blogger Stephen Newton, at 11:22 pm  
    This comes from a query workshop I attended for the Washington Independent Writers. We had a guest speaker who the editor of a major magazine. She showed us samples of queries that had been both accepted and rejected, commenting particularly on one that had been rejected for content--but was also the only one in the "right format." What was the format? Courier. She made a big point of stating that was what she preferred to see--even in a query letter.
    Blogger Linda Adams, at 6:46 pm  
    If it's a big deal for the agent or publisher, I think it's incumbent upon them to state it clearly in their submission guidelines. Courier is certainly safest, but I can't believe that anyone would reject something on the basis of being printed in Helvetica, or something equally bland.
    Blogger Torgo, at 7:43 pm  

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