Monday, October 18, 2010

Formatting Tips for Writers--Part 2--Word Count for your Genre and Formatting your MS

Here are some fascinating and helpful tips from an article I found at

What is the standard format for a completed manuscript?


 Word Count for first time novelist:

Adult fiction: 80,000-100,000 words.

Young Adult fiction: 40,000-60,000 words

I've been told that publishers want a product they can sell to the reading public for $24.95 each. How many adult novels are you willing to spend over $24.95 hardcover if they're only 40,000 words in length? Not many. Major publishers want 80,000-100,000 word novels because they're easier to market and sell to the reading public—a reading public who already has certain expectations about how long books should be and what they're willing to pay.

Now, just when you thought it was safe to write an 80,000-word novel, you should know that I've read that agents give some genres of fiction a bit of flexibility with length:

  • Erotica novellas/short story collections: 40,000-60,000 words
  • Cozy mysteries only: 50,000-70,000 words
  • Most romance novels: 50,000-70,000 words
  • Short Story Collections: 40,000-75,000 words
  • Historical Fiction: 80,000-140,000 words
  • Adult Fantasy: 90,000-140,000 words

MS formatting:
Layout: Double spaced.

Margins: 1.0-1.25 inch margins all around.

Font: 12 point Times New Roman.

Lots of writers say that "Courier New" is the preferred font. Courier New is known as the "typewriter-looking" font to agents and editors, and thus, suggests to them as old and archaic. They're young, and hip, and when publishing professionals claim Courier New is easier on the eyes, they say... get new glasses.

According to this article, Courier New is also the screenwriting standard and shouts, "screenwriter-turned-wannabe-novelist!" Regardless, agents think novels are pure and deserve Times New Roman, so they're sticking with TNR unless otherwise directed by agents and editors. Or unless we're suddenly born-again (not likely any time soon).

Page Numbers: Upper-right-hand corner

Header: Your last name and "tag" title should be listed in the upper-left-hand corner on every page of your masterpiece. Ex: Steinbeck/Wrath

Chapters: Each new chapter should start on a fresh page and its first paragraph should begin one-third down from the top of the page.

Title Page Format: Your title page should list your contact information, the word count of your book, the title of your book, and your name. Your manuscript's title page should have your name, address, phone number, and email address listed as five separate lines in the upper-left-hand corner of your title page


 This article was so helpful for me--probably more so than other formatting articles I've read.




1 comment:

  1. isn't it amazing how hard it is to pin down these details? The first time I hunted for this info, I had to keep digging into layer after googled layer. It's like it was some kind of closely-guarded secret. Kudos & claps for finding it clearly and posting it.