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 [F] Mystery Net Community  / Writing Mysteries  / General Information For Getting Published  /

Submission Guidelines
Patrick Preston - 07:32pm Feb 3, 2000 PST

Hello to all. I am a recent joiner and have a first draft of a mystery that I have finished. I am in the process of rewriting it, but as I do I would like to get a sense from any of you more experienced writers about formating. For instance, how do you set-off dialogue as opposed to descriptive paragraphs? Also, are there any industry standards for what constitutes 'novel length'? I currently have a manuscript of about 86,000 words. Thanks for any and all help.

Mo W. - 07:52am Feb 7, 2000 PST(#1 of 10)

Patrick, you can find books on manuscript formats in the reference section of any good bookstore and probably at your library. It's mostly common-sense, starting with 1) Typed 2) double-spaced 3) on one side of 8-1/2 x 11 WHITE bond paper (no onion-skin, for example) 4) with 1 to 1.25-inch margins all around and 5) with a "slug line" containing author's last name, possibly title keyword, and the page number in the upper right or left corner of each page (Example: FOSTER/Blood Bath--2).

There are other guidelines for assembling the manuscript with a cover letter, title sheet, author's bio, etc., but before you send anyone the complete manuscript, you should send a query letter describing your book to agents and/or publishers who handle mysteries. Be sure to tell them the book is complete (but do your revisions first) and offer to send a synopsis and the first three chapters for their consideration. Again, check your bookstore or library for helpful references on this. Also check the web site.

There's no trick to setting off dialogue from narrative, other than using paragraphs and quotation marks. It looks like a book page, only double-spaced. Good luck!

Hugh Drummond - 09:55am Feb 8, 2000 PST(#2 of 10)
" I have a criminal mind... I see bad in everyone," (Mr. J.G. Reeder)

Thank you!


Patrick Preston - 06:44am Feb 9, 2000 PST(#3 of 10)

Mo W. Thank you very much for your help. I am off find some books with guidelines printed up. I wanted to be sure I used the right format because, as with screenplays and teleplays, (unfortunately) format is everything.

Patrick Preston - 07:46pm May 12, 2000 PST(#4 of 10)

I have seen the figure of 60,000 words for a mystery novel. Is this an industry standard or benchmark? How many pages, roughly, would 60,000 words work out to be?

Karen Sue Crabtree - 01:51pm May 13, 2000 PST(#5 of 10)

I would lke to know what all is included in a query letter. I also have a manuscript that I want to submit but most places have asked for a query letter. I have checked the library and they don't have anything that can give me any ideas. Can anyone out there help.

Sarah Holmesley - 03:16pm May 16, 2000 PST(#6 of 10)

Patrick. Pages in the published book depends on the size of the font, font, top and bottom margins, and number of blank pages. I submitted a book to one publisher which I kept right within the 80,000 word range, because that was the average word count for the books in the particular series I was writing for. The books in the series ranged from 75,000 to 83,000 words, but each book was 200 pages. The publisher achieved that count by varying the size of the top and bottom margin and the line count between the chapter title and the beginning of print. Rather than using a set count, you might determine which publisher(s)/lines you want to submit your finished product to, then check the word count and layout for other published books in that paticular line, if you're going to use word count as a goal. Some of the publisher's are only interested in more detailed stories, which run over 300 pages, or more, but others have lines where 200 seems to be the limit.

Sarah Holmesley - 03:33pm May 16, 2000 PST(#7 of 10)

Karen. Generally, you want to give the publisher a brief description of your book, which of the publisher's lines you think your book would fit into, and why you think your book is a good addition to that line. Basically, you want to let them know which of their customers would buy your book. It's all about sales.

Janet Pepsin - 07:20pm Dec 2, 2001 PST(#8 of 10)

Karen, other helpful items to include in your query...any RELEVANT experience you might have that would make your subject matter more "real", previous publishing credits, and noting if your ms is a simultaneous submission (be sure your chosen publisher accepts them first). Do not ever term your ms a "book" - it is not one until it is published!

John Poindexter - 09:10am Jan 2, 2002 PST(#9 of 10)


When you double space a manuscript using 12pt Courier like most publisher want you get 250 words page.

Hope this helps.

gloria tulloch - 10:06am Apr 3, 2002 PST(#10 of 10)

I would be pleased to find a trick to know when or where to start a new paragraph. I have no trouble when I am using dialogue and I know the rule is when starting a new idea, start a new pargraph. But confusion sets in when I'm actually doing it. Any trick for this confusion? Please!!!!

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 [F] Mystery Net Community  / Writing Mysteries  / General Information For Getting Published  / Submission Guidelines

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