The manuscript, first impressions count
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OK, there is a well-known saying that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but you haven’t got there yet.

Your manuscript is your sales pitch, your presentation, it represents you, yes, there is a lot riding on it but what is worth doing, is worth doing well. You have put a lot of time, effort, and soul into your story so your manuscript should reflect that.

Most publishers provide instructions for manuscript submissions they will include page size, usually A4, font and font size, line spacing and margins.

There are other elements to consider, one which is important and frequently not used is a manual page break – CTRL + Enter. It’s used when you want to start a new chapter but you haven’t reached the end of the page. Many writers will keep hitting Enter for a new line until they reach the end of the page and Word automatically goes to the next page. When it comes time to format the document, it is time consuming to delete all the manually created lines and add the manual page break.

Soft returns – Shift + Enter – avoid them, unless used for lists and/or dot points. Soft returns can cause issues with formatting and will add time and even cost.

Do not use the space bar to reach the end of a line, the typesetter will not thank you.

If you are not a confident Word user, seek assistance, YouTube has many helpful videos and there are free tutorials and courses online. You will benefit from learning before you start your writing journey. Your publisher will thank you.

Of course, proofreading your manuscript is essential. You must eliminate as many spelling errors, punctuation errors and grammatical mistakes as possible before submitting your work to publishers.

Do your proofreading at the end, resist the temptation to do it while you are writing, it is a distraction. If you have someone who will read your work before submission, take advantage, put aside your ego and appreciate their feedback.

Don’t ever be reluctant to ask for help, it isn’t a weakness. It is a strength.