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Let’s Make Our Submissions Look Professional

Thursday, November 10, 2016 12:24
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson shares writers’ resources on her award-winning blog Sharing with Writers

Rules of the Road
Valerie Allen
To write well and be more successful, every writer needs to be aware of the most common standards in the publishing industry:
ñ  Ultimately your manuscript must be in a word processing program
ñ  Use one inch margins on all sides
ñ  Justify text, including the first sentence
ñ  Indent .5 for all paragraphs after the first one
ñ  Use 12 point type, simple fonts (Times New Roman works well)
ñ  Use one space after the period
ñ  Dialogue requires quotation marks (“Where are you?”)
ñ  Start a new paragraph with each different speaker
ñ  Keep the speaker’s action and dialogue in the same paragraph
ñ  Use subject verb sentence structure
     (USE: “This is important,” Valerie said.
     NOT: “This is important,” said Valerie.)
ñ  For time sequence use both words: and then
     (USE: She picked up a pen, and then wrote a note.
     NOT: She picked up a pen, then wrote a note.)
ñ  Punctuation marks go inside quotation marks (“Here I am,” Valerie said. “Where are you?” she asked.)
ñ  An apostrophe replaces a missing letter (goin’, won’t)
ñ  Use italics for internal character thoughts.
ñ  Limit the use of exclamation points (!) and dashes (-)
ñ  Use only one punctuation mark at the end of a sentence
     (USE: “You did what?” NOT:“You did what?!!!”)
ñ  Avoid clichés
ñ  Avoid over-use of that, very, just

Valerie Allen, author, playwright, and speaker, writes fiction, non-fiction, short stories, plays, and children’s books. She is a popular speaker at writer’s conferences, libraries, and community events using her book: Write, Publish, Sell! Quick, Easy, Inexpensive Ideas for the Marketing Challenged 2ndEdition. It is available at 
She is a co-founder of Authors for Authors, which supports new and experienced authors with book fairs, book launches, book displays, and writing seminars. Authors from across the US  have had their books displayed at two annual Florida book fairs held in March and November sponsored by
Valerie Allen invites questions and comments. She can be reached via FB, Twitter, Google+ and

at or  or


Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the multi award-winning author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of books for authors and retailers. She was named Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment by members of the California Legislature and is an instructor of UCLA Extension’s renowned Writers’ Program.


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