Skip to Navigation | Skip to Content

The Basics

Submission Etiquette/Preparing a Manuscript

Alongside a well-written cover letter, having a properly prepared submission makes an important impression. Following are some pointers on how to make sure you submit your manuscript properly.

Type your manuscript, using a standard and legible font (size 12 Times New Roman is always safe). Prose should be double-spaced. Poetry can often be formatted either way; check publication submission guidelines to be certain.

Proofread. Once you mail your manuscript, it’s out of your hands, so make sure it’s correct.

In fact, have someone else proofread, too. Preferably someone who is good at proofreading. You probably have at least one friend who falls into that category. You could offer to return the favor, or you could use bribes. Cookies, coffee, laundry services, etc., work well for this.

Print your manuscript on plain white 8.5”x11” paper—clean and neat, but nothing fancy. Use at least 1” margins. Poems should be printed on separate pages.

Number all pages. Put contact information on the top of your manuscript unless the publisher specifies NOT to do this. Include name and title on subsequent pages, with page number.

Make sure to submit three to five poems—don’t submit just one. Do send just one prose manuscript. Check submission instructions for individual publishers’ guidelines.

If you are mailing your manuscript, use an 8.5”x11” envelope to send it. Arrange contents in the following order: 1) cover letter, 2) self-addressed, stamped envelope, 3) manuscript.

Always include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with mailed submissions.

If you are e-mailing your manuscript, do so as an attachment, and use the body of the e-mail for your cover letter, unless the publisher specifies another format for online submission.