Tips for New Authors
by Neil Charles Cladingboel
Page 1 of 1
First and foremost, the best way to get yourself published is by submitting
your novels or short stories to as many publishing houses, magazines, e-zines
etc. that you can manage. The more people who see your name, the better chance
you have of success. Remember, every rejection letter is one step closer to an
So, now that you have a manuscript or some stories ready to submit, what
now? Send them on their way of course! Find a list of publishers in your area
or on the Net and, if possible, find out any submission guidelines they may
have. Most publishers require similar formats, but if you're not sure, the
following tips may be useful in your search for publication:
Make sure your pages have an inch margin all round and that the text is of a
Courier font or similar, 12 point and double line spaced for easy reading.
Don't be tempted to right margin justify, no matter how much neater you may
think it looks! Use a # for scene breaks or at the end of each chapter. The
first page of the manuscript should have your contact details on the left
margin, a word count on the right margin and the book title and author's name
centred about halfway down the page. Your story can then start underneath that.
Each page should also have the title, author's name and page number, usually as
a right-aligned header. You do not need to put a copyright notice on your
manuscript, as this will only label you as an amateur. If the work to be
submitted is a short story, submit it in its entirety. If the work is a novel,
then usually the first three chapters are sufficient.
Cover or Query Letter
The cover letter should serve to introduce yourself with a short bio and
list of any other works you may have already published. If you're submitting a
novel, remember to provide a substantial synopsis of the story, its key
characters, and whether the novel is a stand-alone work or part of a planned
series etc. Don't be afraid to divulge too much - the publisher/editor needs to
know what's going to happen.
Chances are you'll receive more rejections than sales, especially for a
novel-length work. The trick is not to give up! If you receive critiques or
suggestions, put them to good use and don't be afraid to edit. The first editor
who looked at my novel, Reflections, told me it was way too long
and that I needed to "trim the fat". At first, the thought of purging so many
of my lovingly written words seemed akin to killing my offspring, but I knew
that the editor was probably right. So I went on to edit 10,000 words from my
manuscript before it was finally published, but I believed that it read so much
better by then. Then, as a final irony, the first review I received for
Reflections made mention that the novel was perhaps too short for
the reviewer's taste. I guess you're never going to be able to please
Author of The Erebus Equilibrium trilogy.
Copyright© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Neil Charles Cladingboel, sffworld.com. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.