As you know, I sold four short stories out of the ten I submitted last year.
Either way, I think formatting was instrumental in selling those stories. Initially, it felt like a huge time suck and was very daunting, but today when I start out with a new story, I usually set the format first, so that its not a major issue by the time I’n done drafting and editing. And I must confess it’s become more of a habit now.
So, how should you format the manuscript? All short story magazines, journals and publishers seem to favor the William Shunn Style. Most of them say so explicitly in their submission guidelines and the ones that don’t, I usually default to this, because it is the industry standard.
Left hand side, top corner.
The name here is the name that will be used to wire your money through paypal or check. So don’t put your pen name here. This is your legal name.
2. Top right corner Word Count: 3500 words, Round off to the nearest 500 words
3. Name of the story: Halfway down the page, with your pen name (byline) underneath it. Title in ALL CAPS. This needs to be centered.
4. Font: Black, Times New Roman or Courier, 12 points
5. Margins: 1″ on all sides
6. Spacing: Double spaced
7. Start the manuscript: Two spaces below the byline.
8. Indentation: First line of every paragraph about .5 inches from the margin
9. Header: Right hand side, top corner, except for first page. Must have Surname/Story Name/ Page number.
10. Justification: Left
11. Dialogue: “Should be in quotation marks.”
12. The End: Mention this at the end of your manuscript or put # to indicate the end.
Formatting the MS makes it looks professional and gives you the credibility of a serious author. So don’t ignore this step.