You get one shot at a good first impression. I've written about query letters and there are several awesome websites and blogs that have more details about writing a good query.
I've written about the format and content of the synopsis. Again, there are awesome websites and blogs with information about writing a killer synopsis.
I've written in general terms about the format of a manuscript. Besides the obvious of great writting, let me say that neatness counts.
It is very off putting to get a sloppy ms. Writing is a lot like vomiting -- hard to stop once it starts. Nonetheless, take a few minutes before you start the next Great American Novel, or before you send it out with the perfect query letter, and clean it up a bit.
Of course, I can't say what others want to see, but if my dreams would come true, I would want the following: (strong hint -- do this before submitting to Cactus Rain Publishing and you'll earn points.)
- Use MS Word, not something else converted into Word. The conversion rarely works as well as the real deal. I will notice when it comes to formatting an ms into a book.
- "Select all" and get rid of the widow/orphan command. I'd rather see widows and orphans in the ms than bother to remove the command. This might not be true of other small publishers.
- Use the page break command between chapters. Yes, I will know if you use a ton of "enter" key strokes.
- You really, really don't need to use ellipsis in fiction. It is probably being misused. Stop it...
- In literature, there is only ONE space between sentences and NONE after the last sentence in a paragraph. None. Fix that.
- The first line of every chapter is flush with the margin.
- I like the tab set at three character spaces. Do not EVER use the space bar in place of a tab command.
- Quote marks are NOT just for sissies. Use them and indent (tab set for 3 spaces, please) every time someone talks.
- Please don't use dialogue to have the main character set off on a boring and long rant on religion.
- Not every noun needs two over-the-top, out-of-this-world adjectives. (Get it?)
- You are allowed only two exclamation marks in the entire ms and they better not be next to each other!! (You win points with me if you use zero exclamation marks.)
- You know that slick trick of having a blank line between paragraphs automatically appear and every paragraph flush with the margin? Don't do that in mss submitted to Cactus Rain Publishing. I hate it. That means when I turn it off, I have to put in the tabs for each paragraph. The reason for this post is that I just spend the better part of a day inserting tabs for each paragraph in a very long ms.
- It is a BIG deal to add tabs to paragraphs when there are 2241 paragraphs in the ms that I'm working on at the moment. This really annoys me and it better be the world's best ever story...
I'm glad we had this little chat. Carry on with writing the next Great American Novel.