As a writer, I need to utilize and maintain proper manuscript format when working with my agent and publishers. I am, admittedly, old school in this regard, and, so far at least, it's served me well.
|Actual page from Stain of Corruption|
Why no tabs? Because when the text gets converted and placed into the program (often QuarkXpress) that publishers use to typeset and print books, tabs create a host of problems, including (but not limited to) alignment errors, digital 'gibberish' inserted in random locations, and missing text.
So don't use tabs if you're setting up a manuscript for submission. Please.
Why do I use such old layout options? Why not just type it up in Verdana, email it out, and be done with it? After all, Courier is so freaking UGLY!!
|It's easy to pick out all of the letters and punctuation in Courier.|
Even when you're tired. Easier reading = fewer mistakes.
Yeah, yeah, all word processors give word counts, I know. But, those word counts might not be the word count a publisher needs. They calculate those counts based upon the number of pages in the manuscript, and the number of words that should be on every page.
For example, in my page setup, Courier makes a 66 character line. Yep, 66 characters. The average word in the english language is five letters, plus one space, together they makes six. So, with a five letter word, plus one space per word, out of 66 characters I get ELEVEN words per line. Doesn't matter to the publisher if there are actually three really long words or twenty short ones, it still counts as an eleven word line because it's 66 characters long. Always. In my page layout, a full page has twenty five lines, so my calculated word count, per page, is 275. Multiply that by the number of pages (full or not) in a manuscript, and you get the word count that publishers use.
It's writer math.
For me, a 400 page book makes a 110,000 word story. Some writers tweak their page margins to get 60 characters a line (10 words a line) which then makes 250 words a page. It's a quicker calculation.
I know that ePublishers have different rules, and regulations, and I know that lots and lots of places ask for manuscripts to be set in Times or whatever. I do, so there's no need to tell me. My agent and editors still like Courier (and I know from personal experience it's easy to mark up for edits and revisions) so I'm sticking with it until someone shaking a check at me says otherwise.