Congratulations – your story is finished. You’ve sweated for months, perhaps years to create strong conflicts, an exceptional plot and rich characters your audience will love. You’ve edited for overused words: that, it, was, and other personal favorites you just kept typing without meaning to. It’s perfect.
Breathe, take a moment to savor the feeling – then go back up the file. You don’t want to risk losing your hard work, a story that will one day find a home and be published either in print or as an e-book format.
Did you create that back up copy like I suggested yet? Can you tell I’m a nag about backups? You should also move a copy to a site not connected with your pc? Having fried my computer (motherboard) once – I am well aware of the desperate, panicked feeling that comes with not being able to find ANY file or get a spark of life from my constant companion, my late and greatly lamented HP laptop computer! Life was really simple before that crash.
But I digress. You’ve backed up a copy, burned it to disk or perhaps saved it to an external site. Yahoo/MSN/Gmail are other good (and free) place to hide copies too so don’t discount them.
So, if you’re ready to begin shopping your story to agents and editors take a moment to look at the document. (Note: these tips are for MS Word documents)
Most agents only quote their font requirements if they want something different than Courier New or Times New Roman 12pt. From what I read, they’re not too keen on the fancy fonts so choose a font that encourages them to read your work. I picked Courier New 12pt since it’s really clear on the screen. To keep me sane, and avoid confusion, I save all my work in a uniform style. However, some agents and publishers, have preferences. My publisher, Noble Romance, prefers Book Antiqua for submissions documents. But I still kept my master document the way I like it.
Let’s label this baby:
One thing you can do is give your file a better identity. With the word document open, select FILE then PROPERTIES. Under the SUMMARY tab, fill in your book title and your author name (especially if you are thinking of publishing under a pen name). You may find the fields already pre-filled. That’s ok – you can type over them without changing anything but the file you are working on. Save the document.
One of the great tricks I learned recently thanks to my editor was how to remove unnecessary spaces in a document. I didn’t mean to leave only extra spaces but there are a few doubles behind the periods? Here are two great ways to remove those annoying spaces without checking the entire document line by line.
Removing double spaces after a period
Using Microsoft Word, choose EDIT, FIND, and then REPLACE. At Find what, type . (period with 2 spaces after). At Replace with, type . (period with 1 space after it) in the replace box. Then click REPLACE ALL, and then OK
Removing extra spaces at paragraph end
Clicking the button on your toolbar so you can see the non-printable characters on screen. Choose EDIT, FIND, and then REPLACE. At Find what, press spacebar once and then type ^p ( ^p). At Replace with, type ^p (^p). And then click REPLACE ALL, and then OK.
What you should have is a much neater document but you might lose a little of your word count. Now – go back and save the file, then create a new backup copy too! I did say I’d be a nag about backups didn’t I?
There are so many great ways to use MS word and I love to hear new tricks to make computing easier. If you have some other great shortcuts I’d love to hear them. Best of luck with your dreams of publication!