How to prepare a poetry manuscript for publication
Here is some general advice on how to prepare a poetry manuscript for publication, not only for Trainwreck Press, but for most publishers. Hope you find it helpful.
These are suggestions and are not meant to be prescriptive. Not everyone's work fits a pre-formatted mode; some don't have titles, some don't have stanzas, some don't have page breaks, but whatever the poetic form of your work, do your best to submit a clean manuscript.
1. Read the Submission Guidelines, usually available on the publisher’s website. The Guidelines may contain information on acceptable fonts, margins, manuscript length, rights, manuscript layout, cover page with contact info, etc., payment, file format (docx, pdf, etc.). Guidelines differ wildly; some are casual, saying, “just send us your stuff,” while others are very formal, specifying exactly how the manuscript should be formatted with a warning that, “manuscripts that do not follow these guidelines will not be read.”
2. Turn on the pilcrow (the ¶ symbol found in the Paragraph formatting section of Word) and remove extra spaces, indents, etc. There are often a lot of extra formatting marks left over from previous revisions which are invisible until the ¶ is used. Removing all the extra formatting will help in submitting a clean manuscript.
3. Before submitting, proofread your manuscript, or get someone to proofread it for you. Don’t rely entirely on computer spelling/grammar checkers. Typos happen to everyone, but the fewer the better.
4. Submit your final version of the manuscript, bio, author photo, etc. Try to avoid post-submission revisions as much as possible.
5. One poem per page. Use page breaks, don’t space down to force the next poem onto the next page.
6. Number your pages.
7. Be consistent with title formatting and spacing after titles. Use Styles to format titles. Using Styles will cause titles to appear as headings in the left navigation pane in Word. The default styles can be modified to suit your manuscript.
8. Be consistent with spacing between stanzas. Use a single space unless there is a poetic reason for inconsistent spacing.
9. Use either m- or n-dashes, don’t mix them. The m-dash is usually preferred, but n-dashes may be acceptable. Use hyphens only in hyphenated words.
10. Use tabs and/or spaces for indenting lines. Do not change the margins to indent a line.
11. For long, wrap-around lines, use hanging indents.
12. Don’t use fancy fonts or colors for titles or text. The standard for manuscripts is 12pt New Times Roman. Unless the font is specified in the Submission Guidelines, you can submit in a non-serif font if you feel a non-serif font best suits your work.
13. A Table of Contents is not usually required for a chapbook but may be required for a full-length submission (usually specified in the Submission Guidelines). Use Styles for titles and then use the Word table of contents creator.
14. If the manuscript is divided into sections, use Styles to format the section headings and titles, for example, use Heading 1 for section headings and Heading 2 for titles. This way, the sections will appear in the left Navigation pane of Word with the titles as sub-headings within the section.