Monday, April 23, 2012

Standard manuscript formatting

“What is ‘standard manuscript format’?” I’ve heard that question many times at writers’ workshops and groups. I suspect that there are several answers, depending on whom you ask. Some of the “rules” you’ll hear undoubtedly relate to the more specific requirements but there are some basic ones that are applicable across the board. For submissions to The Alchemy Press these are probably sufficient. To remind you:
  • Double-spaced text
  • A standard, easy-to-read font, such as Times New Roman or Arial
  • A 12-point typeface
  • Indent the first line of new paragraphs (although the first line of the first paragraph of new sections or chapters may be left without the indent). Many publications, including The Alchemy Press, ask you not to use the tab or space bars when making indents – use the ruler guide instead
  • Left justified only
  • No extra line between paragraphs, but is acceptable between section breaks and chapters
  • Indicate section breaks and chapters with *** or similar (or the chapter title)
  • Do not use an extra space between sentences
  • Margins of 1.0-1.5 inches (2.5-3.0 cm) all round
  • Use italics for titles of films, books, etc (some publications may ask for these to be underlined)
  • Include the author’s contact details (address, email) on the first page (repeating this information on the final page may be useful, especially on longer manuscripts)
  • Read the guidelines: if they state a maximum story length up to 5,000 words do not send a submission of 8,000 words without checking beforehand. And if there is a theme and/or other requirements, ensure your submission meets them
Specific Alchemy Press submission requirements: 
  • Send the document as a Word or RTF attachment for email submissions; do not paste the story in the body of the email
  • The email subject line must include information that readily identifies your submission; use both story title and your name (not the file name if different)
  • Send the manuscript to the address listed in the guidelines for that anthology; general queries can be sent to the main Alchemy Press e-address
  • A short  covering letter or email is all we need, stating basic details. We don’t require  a complete list of previous publications. A link to your blog or website will be sufficient 
  • A brief biography of 50-100 words will be required if your story is selected for publication 
  • If you are a UK-based writer submitting to a UK publication, select A4 page size; it really does help. And set your spell checker to British-English
  • Speech marks: this is a bag of worms, and individual editors have their own preference. Read the submission guidelines. If you use double quotes, use single marks for quotes within speech (see the first sentence of this blog).
  • All submissions will be read after the stated submission period ends and then the selection process should take six-eight weeks. Please bear with us
  • Frequently, stories will be accepted subject to editorial suggestions/requests. Any such suggestions are intended to help the writer improve the story so consider them carefully
  • Should your story be selected, the final format will be altered to conform to the ‘house’ rules for spelling, numbers, dates, etc
These guidelines are not meant to be onerous. In fact, they will help the new writer develop his or her trade, to learn how to send professional-looking manuscripts to mainstream publishers. Smart, clean manuscripts are more likely to be read than ones presented in an idiosyncratic format.

Happy writing!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Rumours: another review

Peter Atkins' collection Rumours of the Marvellous has received another excellent review on the This Is Horror website. Simon Marshall-Jones says:

"What it does show above all, however, is that the best writers are those who take the base material of what’s gone before, wilfully dissolve it and then set about recombining it into something absolutely new and marvellous. It isn’t difficult to see where Mr. Atkins has done just that, but here we witness him working truly wonderful alchemy on that undifferentiated material, which results in literary gold." Read the full review here.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Although reprints will be considered for both anthologies (Pulp Heroes and Ancient Wonders), the preference is for original fiction. If you have a reprint that you think is suitable it is best to contact the editors beforehand.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Alchemy Press Editorial Services

The Alchemy Press' new Editorial Service is aimed for writers of fiction – both new and established writers – who require help with their manuscripts, be it a general edit for sense, pace, etc; or for the final line edit/proofread and layout before it is submitted to an editor for possible publication. We cater for writers of fantasy, horror, science fiction, supernatural, noir crime, etc, from the age of twelve years and up.

We also offer a book designing service. People familiar with Alchemy Press titles will know how important it is to produce attractive publications, books that will not look out of place on the bookshelf. Click here for further details.

Monday, April 2, 2012


If you have any questions about either the Book of Pulp Heroes or the Book of Ancient Wonders, please contact the editors and not the publisher. Use the emails included in the submission guidelines. Thanks.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Another editor's views

Co-editor of The Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders Jan Edwards has also expanded on the submission guidelines -- see here. I'm sure that any differences between Jan's and Jenny's tastes will be settle amicably.