Writing and Publishing

How to Format Your Book Submission

There are two main considerations for formatting your book submission: First, follow the basic criteria that almost all people agree on; failing to do this decreases your chances for success. Second, many publishers and agents post submission guidelines on their websites telling you what they expect. So, start with the basic requirements in all your work and then tweak it as needed for specific instances.

Here Are the Basics:

  • Times New Roman font: 12 points, black
  • Double-spacing between lines
  • Only one space to end a sentence
  • Flush left and jagged right (that is, left-justified but not right)
  • Indented paragraphs, usually a half an inch (Use the indentation setting in your word processor; don’t set a tab or use a certain number of spaces.)
  • One inch top and bottom margins
  • Equal side margins (usually either one or one and a half inches)
  • Don’t have a hard break (that is, a “carriage return”) at the end of each line.
  • Don’t add an extra line at the end of a paragraph (except for a scene break or transition).

Bonus Considerations

If you follow these basics, few editors will object and most will consider you a pro. Here are some bonus considerations:

  • Don’t format the margins differently on odd and even pages (as you would see in a book).
  • On the first page, include your name and contact information (email, phone, and mailing address) at the top, along with the word count. Some publications will specify that you put this information in the top right and others, the top left. Some will say to put this in the header and others will specify the top of the page, so expect some variation, but the key is not to omit this critical information.
  • For all other pages, add a header with your last name, short title, and the page number. There may be some variations on this, but the main thing is to have this information in a header, not on the page itself.

Don’t let formatting paralyze you. In most cases, editors will overlook a minor deviation or two. Following conventional formatting (along with great writing) will help get your book published.

[This is adapted from Peter’s post How to Format Your Submission.]

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: Successful Author FAQs: Discover the Art of Writing, the Business of Publishing, and the Joy of Wielding Words. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book Successful Author FAQs for insider tips and insights.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.

2 replies on “How to Format Your Book Submission”

Hi Peter! Why isn’t it acceptable to fully justify instead of left justify? I personally always like the look of both sides even. I think I’ve got the rest of your guidelines down.

Sally, yes, right justified does look nice. Though many books are printed right justified, not all are.

I suspect the reason to not be right justify submissions is that it’s easier to spot formatting issues, such as double spaces and hard line returns, which is hard to do when something is right justified.

Comments are closed.