Before you submit your script, be sure to make it presentable, readable and pleasing to the eye. Many writers do this through all kinds of formatting and colours. This is wrong. Before you commit your script to the publisher, read the publisher’s submission guidelines. This is important because a wrongly formatted script – no matter how good – will not be read. It is also important to check international best practice on the matter. If you are unsure which publisher in the country you will be submitting to, then refer to international publishers. Many South African publishers follow them anyways. So if you format according to a well-known American or European publisher, chances are a South African publisher will find your script admissible.

This formatting is important because publishers – especially independent publishers – do not have the time or the resources to format your script again. Generally the Oxford style is universally acceptable.

Spelling

Never misspell a word in the language you are writing in. if it is English, you are fortunate enough to have automatic spell check. If you are writing in another language, then you have to double-check your spelling. You do not want to create an impression to your readers that you do not know your language. Imagine a Mosotho writer who cannot spell Sesotho names correctly. Such a writer looses credibility in the eyes of his readers.

Grammar

Be careful of your grammar. English could be a cow, but if handled well, it can be your friend. Grammatical errors are annoying to the eye and they can turn readers into haters. The easiest way to avoid making grammatical errors is by writing short sentences. As short as possible, but not nonsensical. If you are writing in your vernacular (if it is not English), you cannot have bad grammar. You cannot miss your idioms and proverbs. You cannot confuse your plurals to your singulars.

Read

In order to write, you have to read first – and read a lot. Many writers just jump into it and they just start writing. This is not a bad thing. It is however a sign of laziness. Reading – lots of reading in preparation for your own book – broadens your mind. It also opens your eyes to what other writers are writing. You know the standard in the writing world and you can benchmark your writing accordingly.

Once you have written something, you must read it again and again and again. So leave your computer, piece of paper or typewriter for some time – 10 minutes, 1 hour, 1 day or whatever – and then come back and read it again. It is interesting how different your own writing sounds, feels and reads when you read it after long break from it.

This is the time when big epiphanies can happen. This is when you will realise that you had many gems of wisdom and flashes of brilliance in your writing and then you can start polishing them. It is also a good moment to start removing all the gunk in it – spelling mistakes, bad grammar, bad plot, incoherent dialogue and unnecessary storylines and red herrings. It can be time to reflect on your story.

Format

At Geko Publishing, our requirements for submission of scripts are very simple. We require a simple submission in simple terms:

  • Body text is Arial, font size 10pt. 1.0 or 1.15 line spacing.
  • Headings should be no bigger than Arial 12pt.
  • Cover page must include your full names (including surnames and pseudonyms), full contact details (with alternative numbers if possible), working title of the manuscript. Working title must be Arial Bold 12pt to 18pt – not bigger than 18pt.
  • Your script must be on a normal A4 size page, portrait.
  • Avoid indents, unless you really have to use them – and be careful not to overuse them. Use them for a purpose – to indicate importance of an idea, to highlight a quote, to focus attention on a paragraph for some other important reason.
  • Send your manuscript via email. Circulate a copy (CC) yourself or a lawyer or someone you trust in your family or another professional. This is to ensure that your manuscript is not lost, or duplicated or passed on to someone. This is similar to the old postal way of submitting a manuscript. In the old times, you would send yourself a copy of the manuscript. This way, you can always prove that you are the original writer/author of the manuscript.
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