Formatting

What Should a Short Bio Include?

Q: I have an article being published in a magazine and the editor e-mailed me asking for a short bio. This is my first time being published. How long is “short” and what should I include? —Robert K. A: Congratulations on your first publication! Typically a short bio consists of one to two sentences...

What's Considered a "Clip"?

Q: Many times publishers indicate they want “published clips” along with a query letter. What exactly are they? —Diane H. A: Published clips are any articles or stories that have been printed in magazines or newspapers. So, if you wrote “How to Train Your Husband-To-Be” and it was printed in the latest issue of...

Which Word Count Do Agents Want?

Q: Traditionally, a novel’s word count was estimated by multiplying the number of pages by 250 words per page (assuming standardized margins, font, double space, etc.) Now, word processors can give exact word counts instantly. When agents ask for a novel’s word count, do they want the “traditional” word count or the “word processor”...

U.S. vs. Canadian Formatting

Q: I’ve been bouncing some ideas for comedy TV scripts, so I bought a script-formatting book. The book is published in the U.S and I live in Canada. I was wondering if formatting rules are any different between the U.S and Canada. And what is the best formatting program to use? Thanks for the...

Literary fiction vs. Maintstream fiction

Q: I see these two terms bandied about on almost every literary blog and Q&A: Literary fiction vs. Maintstream fiction. What are the differences between the two?–Rook V. A: If I made a list of differences between literary and mainstream fiction, it’d look nearly identical to Janet Paszkowski’s “Defining Artless Fiction: 24 Basic Differences...

Should I Use The Chicago Manual of Style for my Book?

Q: In my writing I strictly follow the rules in The Chicago Manual of Style. For example, in a sentence joined with an “and,” I place a comma after the last word before the “and” when the first part of the sentence is a complete sentence. I have received a rejection with the first...

How Do I E-mail Clips?

Q: When a publication requests e-queries and clips, how do you e-mail the clips?—Nannette Croce A: Sending clips via e-mail can be difficult. You can try scanning the images, but that sometimes blurs the words and makes the piece illegible. You can copy text into a word processing document and send it, but that...

When to Use a Prologue

Q: When should a prologue be used? Is there a difference between prologues for fiction and nonfiction?—Sonya Ryan A: A prologue is used when material that you want to include in the opening is out of time sequence with the rest of the story. For example, let’s say you’re writing a book about a...

What is a Logline?

Q: I’ve recently decided to turn my book into a screenplay and I’ve read several articles that say you must have a “logline” if you want to sell your script. What’s a logline?—Jennifer Bickel A: Hollywood executives are so busy that they have very little time to spend on anything, including listening to your...

Numbering Pages of a Prologue

Q: I’ve written a novel and am now working on the technical aspects. What’s the proper way to number pages of a prologue? If the prologue is five pages long, would that make the first page of Chapter 1 Page 6? —Gretchen Courtright A: Most front-matter elements, such as a prologue or preface, don’t...

Staples or Paper Clips?

Q. When I’m submitting a manuscript to a publisher, should I paper clip or staple the pages? Are the rules the same when submitting to a contest?—D. Fuson A. In general, publishers want manuscripts paper-clipped, not stapled. It’s more difficult to read through 300 pages harnessed together by staples than it is to take...