Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Proposals, Part 3: Making Your Proposal Package Presentable!

This is the last installment of my proposal series, putting it all together! Now there are two ways of doing this—through email or through hard copy. 

1) Hard Copy

Although many publishers these days accept email submissions (even if they aren't primarily ebook publishers), some still request paper submissions only. Firstly, you will want to follow their formatting guidelines, if they post any. If they do not, assume that they want industry standard, which is:

  • Double-spaced

  • 12-point font

  • Times New Roman or Courier New

  • 1-inch margins

  • A header with: the page number, your last name, and the title of your manuscript.

  • A cover page with: the title, your name and contact information (address, phone number, email address), approximate wordcount for the manuscript, and sometimes a short blurb like you would put in your cover letter.

Once you have printed out your manuscript (or more likely, the first three chapters), along with your cover letter and synopsis, all that needs to be done is to package it. Don't put it in a fancy box or tie it with ribbon—however much you might want to dress it up, it is better if it is plain. It should be able to stand out without the fancy wrapper, at this point. Don't staple it together, either. A paperclip works—or you could try my method. I slide my manuscript into a full-sized freezer bag. It's simple, it's easy—it's waterproof—and it gets the job done. 

2) Email

Personally, I prefer email. My main reason: because I live in Canada. Many of the publishers I send to are based in the U.S. and unfortunately, that can mean some pretty pricey postal charges. Fortunately, as I stated before, most publishers now also accept email submissions. 

Making your manuscript presentable through email is just as easy as through hard copy. If the publisher doesn't specify on a format, assume industry standard. And always, always, always make sure that your submission is free of misspelled words and grammar mistakes. That means for Canadian writers such as myself—make sure you have the word processor set to English (U.S.) and not English (Canadian)!

Another tip to watch out for is in naming your file. Some publishers give you instructions on how they would like the manuscript to be named. If they don't, a good rule of thumb is to have both the title and your name in the file name. For instance, using my example from the first part of this mini-series: ClaraHanoux_VampiresPreferBrunettes.doc or Hanoux_Vampires Prefer Brunettes.doc or some even use their initials:  CH_Vampires Prefer Brunettes.doc. It is important to have something in the name to identify who the submission belongs to.

Because this is the last part of this mini-series, if anyone has any lingering questions that I didn't cover, feel free to ask them below! If I can't answer them, I'll be sure to find someone who can.



  1. Not a question but a comment. Not only are the synopsis and query important but so are the first couple pages of your manuscript. I have heard directly from a former e-pub editor that the process goes something like this:

    I am going to read the first couple pages of your story, if it pulls me in then I am going to read your synopisis. If your synopsis has an engaging and coherent plot then I am going to dedicate the time to read your whole submission.

    Just something to think about.
    Another brilliant series Clara!!

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