Monday, November 30, 2009

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

I had to think a while about the lessons writing, selling, and having my debut book published taught me, and while there are several of them I could talk about, I'm going to focus on only one. The one that I wish I'd known before I sold: Don't sweat the small stuff.

What do I mean by that?

Here are a few things that aren't worth sweating over (trust me!):

  • Which font to use for your manuscript. As long as the font is readable, it truly doesn't matter. Seriously. Courier? That's fine. Times New Roman? Yep, fine. I mean, I probably wouldn't choose Algerian, Impact, or Curlz MT (to name a few), but if you choose a traditional, easy-to-read, 12 pt font, you're good to go.
  • Single or double spacing your synopsis. Again, no one really cares as long as it's easy to read with 1 inch margins.
  • Which word count to use. Use the word count your word processing program tells you is there. Don't worry about trying to calculate the old way (Courier New font, double space, 25 lines per page = 250 words per page x number of pages in the manuscript). There is no need to calculate word count anymore...not when word processing programs do the work for you! Besides which, you'll get a vastly different number from the calculation method.
  • Ignore the rules! Okay, don't ignore all of them. You want to follow submission guidelines, and you want to deliver a clean manuscript that is easy to read, has 1 inch margins all around, a header with your name and title of the book, etc. HOWEVER, you know those rules that say to never use certain words? Or that say you HAVE to plot, or you HAVE to do this or that or the next thing. IGNORE THEM and write your book the way you need to write it. However that way is. If you're a plotter, then plot. If you're not a plotter, then don't plot.

Naturally, if you're submitting to an agent who specifies the synopsis should be double spaced, then double space it, or if they state they want Times New Roman, then use TNR. Other than specific guidelines attached to submissions (whether for contests, editors, or agents), don't sweat this stuff. You'll drive yourself crazy for no reason.

I hope everyone had a terrific holiday weekend! I know I did, and most of my Christmas shopping is already done. I plan on finishing within the next week, so I can do something different this year and not have a six-hour wrap fest the day before Christmas Eve. THIS year, I plan on wrapping a few things here and there every day. I'll let you know how successful I am!

See you all next week!


Anonymous said...

Yes, that font one is sometimes weird. I know of one publisher that, well, requests a font I had to go online to find. Ye gods, why do they do that???

Maureen Lipinski said...

Good luck with that wrap fest! Wanna do mine next? :)

Jillian Cantor said...

Good advice, Tracy. And also helpful for me to be reminded of that from time to time :-)