Submit a manuscript

Although each literary journal or independent press has its own specific guidelines for submitting work, the following are a few tenets that apply to nearly all fiction and nonfiction markets. Keep in mind these standards are used not because editors want all writers to be uniform, but simply because when all things look equal, editors can more objectively judge the work on its own merit.

Manuscript Formatting:   

  • Use a 12-point font, usually Courier or Times New Roman.

  • Make sure that the work is double-spaced.

  • On the first page, put your name, full address, and phone number in the upper left hand corner.

  • Center the title both across and top to bottom (title should be in quotations for shorter stories and underlined for novels), skip two lines and type your name, skip two more lines and begin the body of your story.

  • On each proceeding page, include Your Name/Title/(page#) in the upper right corner (creating a header in Microsoft Word is the easiest way to do this).

Manuscript Appearance:

  • Computer print your manuscript in black ink only.

  • Use plain white paper, preferably 20 lb. (the weight refers to the thickness of the paper; you want something that’s somewhat durable).

  • Do not bend, fold, or mark on your manuscript in any way.  A piece with handwritten corrections or one with a torn edge gives the impression that it was already rejected or that you don't take yourself seriously.

  • Paperclip your pages together. Very few editors prefer staples.

Cover Letter:

  • WARNING: Do not try to get creative.  Let the work speak for you.

  • Format it as a business letter.

  • Address it to a specific editor with Dear Mr. Whomever and not simply To whom it may concern. This shows that you are familiar with the publication.

  • Give only necessary information such as why are you writing (in case you forget, it’s because you want your work considered for publication), the title of your piece, your publishing history, and, if pertinent, your educational background (mentioning that you are a fiction writing major/minor lets an editor know you are serious about writing).


  • Always include a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope (SASE) for reply.

  • Whenever possible read the latest issue of the publication prior to submitting.

  • Always proofread thoroughly.

  • Keep track of where your stories are heading. Keep a submission log to help keep yourself organized. In fact, here you go. Use this one.

  • Don't get discouraged by rejections. This is a process of finding the right audience for your work, so keep at it and keep sending it out.

Good luck!