I got this email today:
Dear Mr. Goldberg,
I am about to start writing my novel. What novel writing software do you use? Is there an industry standard? What’s the proper format?
I use Microsoft Word but any word processing software is probably just fine. The format question is trickier. My publisher on the DIAGNOSIS MURDER and MONK novels didn’t give me any set format, so I write my novels double spaced in 12pt Courier New, with margins that would be the typewriter equivalent of 10 and 60. I think I do that because I learned to write on a typewriter… and I wrote so much on an IBM Selectric that a manuscript doesn’t look right to me if it isn’t in Courier New.
On the other hand, I recall that Five Star, the folks who published THE WALK and are bringing out THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE in November, had very strict formatting guidelines. Although I wrote the book using my usual format, when I was done I had to reformat it to meet their requirements which included, if I recall, that the manuscript be in 11pt Times New Roman, double-spaced, with author’s last name and the book title centered in italics at the top of each page.
But at this point, I would just concern yourself with writing the book. You can always change the format later to conform to the requirements of whatever publisher you submit it to.
How about you other published authors out there — what’s your advice?