Have you ever wondered how important it is to format a picture book manuscript for successful production of the book? Publishing a picture book is always challenging but if you know the tips and tricks of proper formatting, then you are sure to get rewarded. Some publishers may have specific requirements; however, here are the basics to consider before delivering a final manuscript to your publisher for approval.

First of all, make sure your manuscript is free from spelling, punctuation and grammatical mistakes. All picture book manuscript should be submitted in Microsoft Word format. If your book is chapter based then each chapter should be saved as a separate file labeled numerically in the same order as it appears in the manuscript. Make sure that you have included title of the book, your name, return address, phone number, and email address on the first page of your manuscript. Do not number the first page of your manuscript. Manuscript must be 12 points in size with a standard, an easy-to-read black font like Times New Roman, Georgia, Courier, Arial etc. Fancy or unusual fonts may turn off the buyers or publishers. Manuscripts should be “left justified” with double or single space between sentences.  Indent the first line of each paragraph with a single tab and double-spaced text. Do not break it into pages unless it is book with chapters; just type it out as a story in upper and lower case on plain white paper. If the book is a collection of poems they then it should be in stanzas. If you would like to include notes to the editor or illustrator for some visual references; use italics, boldface, capitalization styles, and special characters, wherever necessary, for emphasis. However, do not use special characters without consulting the publisher. All the pages should have page numbers in one corner or another.

Carefully review the guidelines of the publisher regarding the submission of the manuscript with or without illustrations. Most publishers prefer to choose an artist whose style they feel best complements the story. Do not bind or staple your manuscript. A paper-clip or a file folder will definitely do. Enclose a brief cover letter with your contact information. It is always better to put the word count on the cover letter; however, one can also put it on the first page. Always round off your word count. Make sure the word count for your book is appropriate for your target readership. Print your manuscript on plain white paper.

Use a standard business-size white or brown envelope for submission by mail. Always address it to the right person and always use certified mail or return-receipt services for safe arrival of your manuscript. Check publisher’s policy for inclusion of a SASE (a stamped, self-addressed envelope) for return of the rejected manuscript. However, some publishers do not return rejected manuscripts. Some publishers also accept email submissions as an attached file. Always remember that publishers respond only to submissions of interest; hence make a catchy summary of your picture book manuscript which complements the information presented in the text.