How To Format Your Novel
How To Format Your Novel
You may be the next big thing in writing - a natural novelist with a flair for fantastic fiction - but you won't get anywhere with publishers unless you present your book like a pro. We here at VideoJug show you how to format your novel pages, how to lay out your text ready for typesetting, advice on font and all the top tips you need to create a slick-looking blockbuster book. So format your novel with VideoJug's help.
Step 1: Don't submit handwritten work
It's fine to write your first draft by hand if that's how you work best, but when it comes to submitting your novel to an agent or publisher it must be typed. If you can't do it yourself there are secretarial services on offer who will type up your work for a fee.
Step 2: Do format as you go...
If you're typing it yourself - and format your work as you write, rather than correcting everything at the end - it'll save you a lot of time and you'll be less likely to overlook details.
Step 3: Don't squash your work
All work should be double-spaced, with a wide left-hand margin of at least 40mm. This lets editors and publishers make legible notes on your work. The text should be aligned to the left-hand side of the page - do not justify your work, as it causes problems for the designers and typesetters should your novel make it to the print stage. Justified text also makes it harder to gauge your word count.
Step 4: Do use the right font
Keep your typeface simple and easy-to-read. All text should be printed in black, and you should use a non-fussy, standard font such as Times New Roman, Helvetica or Arial in 12pt size so it's clear. Avoid formatting your font with bold or italics - if you want to emphasize a word or phrase, underline it. An editor will know what you mean.
Step 5: Check your spelling and punctuation
A badly spelled or poorly punctuated piece of work creates a terrible impression, and a first-time reader may immediately be put off, so make sure you keep your punctuation and spelling consistent and accurate:
- If you use a capital for a certain noun or name, make sure you always do so.
- Use a single space after a full stop, comma, colon, semi-colon and other punctuation marks. Use a single space before and after any hyphen.
- Don't indent new paragraphs - although not strictly-speaking wrong it is considered unnecessary. Instead, leave a single line gap.
- Start each new section of dialogue spoken by a character on a new line of the page. This makes it easier for the reader to follow.
Make sure you also thoroughly spell-check your synopsis and your covering letter - editors and agents don't like careless writers.
Step 6: Number your pages and chapters
You only need to drop your masterpiece once to realise that un-numbered pages are a nightmare. Number each page consecutively. Start Chapter 1 at Page 1, and keep going from there - don't start each new chapter at one again. Page numbers should be positioned either in the centre of the page footer, or in the top right hand corner of the page header.
Step 7: Add your name and book title
Along with the page number, you should also include your name and the title of your book (or a portion of the title if it's too long), so that any pages which go astray on an editor's desk can easily find their way home.
Step 8: Print it out!
If you've named, numbered, spell-checked and double-checked you work, it's time to print it out ready to send to the professionals! Use good quality white A4 printer paper, print on one side only and bear in mind that your work may pass through many sets of hands on its way to finding a publisher. You don't have to spend a fortune, but poor quality, flimsy paper will quickly look worn, grubby and crumpled.
Now that your brand new blockbuster is formatted and ready to go, why not watch VideoJug's "What to Send to Publishers and Agents" to find out how to put together a professional-looking submission to grab the attention of the publishing bigwigs? Good luck!