Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for E-Reader

These days, a whole lot (if not most) of the agents accepting electronic submissions seem to be using e-readers.  This poses a challenge for writers who may not have formatted their manuscript for an e-reader. The good news is, there isn't much of a difference between formatting for an e-reader and the normal formatting guidelines.

In general, using the enter key multiple times rather than a page-break at the end of a chapter or using extra spaces might look fine on the Word Doc version of the MS but will make a mess of the formatting when viewed on an e-reader. And chapter titles with fancy scripts might be impossible to decipher. So, there are some special guidelines to take into consideration when submitting an MS so that both agents using an e-reader or not will be able to view your submission without being distracted by formatting issues.

Here are the resources I refer back to when formatting my manuscript for submission (Of course, these are generalized guidelines and the Agency Website and Agent's blog should always be checked for specific information):

Cassandra Marshall
Agent Vickie Motter

Quick Guidelines:
Font: Times New Roman, 12 pt
Spacing: Double
Margins: 1 inch all around
Indent Paragraphs: .5 inch first line only
Scene Breaks: # without an empty line before or after

Also, I do have a Kindle, so I use it to do a last check on my MS to make sure there isn't anything crazy going on with the format.

Is there anything I missed? If you have other formatting resources/information, please share!


  1. I hadn't even thought about formatting for an e-reader! I guess that's something else I need to look in to!

  2. Hey! Thank you for your comment :) I replied on my blog, but I wanted to show you this: how could your husband resist?! :) At least if you go really really far south you could see the southern lights!

    This was a great post and I like the one below about dialogue, too. In the Norwegian books I'm reading, they don't use speech marks so aside from the problems you pointed out, it's hard to even tell if something is being said by a character sometimes!

    Have a lovely Thursday :)

    Nikki – inspire nordic

  3. Gosh - I suppose that is the next step when we're submitting. Useful (mind you, when my WIP is ready for submission, technology will probably have moved on). When I submitted my first novel (to British agents) - they didn't even accept email submissions!!! And that's just 3 years ago...

    1. I'm so glad I missed the snail mail submission years - I'm impatient enough with email!

  4. Love the post! I recently had to venture into formatting for an eReader and it just opened my eyes to formatting things in a word processor that I'd honestly never known before. Like, not using tab for first lines - there's actually a first lines option!

    And it definitely helps, having an eReader to check things against, ^_^. Though Amazon does have their cloud and desktop app, which also work.

  5. I never thought about agents reading submissions on Ereaders. Makes sense though. Thanks for the quick guidelines. Definitely making a note.

  6. Great post! Definitely very important. Also, I'm not sure if anyone else has had a problem with this, but I once did a test convert of my word doc to pdf and then kindle file, and found that somewhere along the way it had interpreted certain letter-punctuation combos as code for other things. So things like , interesting got translated and garbled into meaningless jumbles like: &!$puncinteresting

    So watch for weird things like that. Unfortunately I honestly don't know how to fix the problem =/

    1. That's true! I think it has something to do with different versions of Word because it doesn't always happen. But, like KarenG suggested below, it really is helpful to first save the Word Doc as an RTF as an in between step.

  7. Very helpful post. Reading a ms. on the Kindle gives an entirely new slant on it. It's like all of a sudden you saw your rough draft as a book. Another tip is if you save your Word doc as an rtf. it shows up really well on the Kindle.

    Nice to meet you and I hope you're enjoying the Challenge.

    A to Z Challenge Host

  8. Very very helpful! I'm worried about screwing up my formatting when I get to this part.

    My E

  9. Great insights about formatting! It's definitely good to be aware of all the various reading formats these days.

  10. I *never* would have thought of this. I would certainly look to see how an agent prefers submissions and work within those guidelines, but would not have had a clue on how to format for an e-reader. Great, helpful post!