Monday, June 14, 2010

Author Tip #6: 2, 3, 4, 5

Picture a literary agency or, for that matter, a publishing house. Picture it as a gnarly, gnashing, gaping maw into which everyone and anyone -- staffer, intern, service provider, cleaner, random member of the general public, lost kitten and stray dog – is compelled to shove as many sheets of paper as s/he can as fast as s/he can. Half of publishing is filing those sheets of paper.

Nowadays, of course, we're all on our virtual way, and many of these sheets appear first on our screens, Manifestations of the Virtual Universe . Virtual paper is a good thing, insofar as it goes. It saves trees, opens up space and cuts down on litter. It's also easier to organize and store than the real thing.

Sadly, however, working with it requires a device that displays text, and that introduces a sheaf of potential difficulties, not the least of which are Big Butt, Humpback, Stiff Neck, Dead Foot, Prickly Foot, Carpel Tunnel and Red Eye and Glue Eye. Therefore, those of us working constantly with manuscripts that may be hundreds of pages long are often moved to Print Out our documents. I put my pages face up in a box, and turn them over one by one into the box's lid as I read. This would work well, if I were a machine, but I am nothing if not organic. I incline to disorganization.

Invariably, the sequence of pages is lost. And half the time, it turns out the pages ARE NOT NUMBERED. Whole half hours may be swallowed, gone forever, in the ensuing paper shuffles.

People, many people, submit manuscript without numbering the pages. And in that blithe moment when I hit the print button, I blot out the memory of the insanity of it. Nor I do not see it when I glance at the stack; in accordance with tradition, cover sheets and first pages are not numbered.



  1. Is there a standard place to put the page numbers?

    Obviously I'd place them where the guidelines specify, but if they don't specify, where should they go?

    I've seen three different places specify that the "standard" is: top right, top left, bottom left.

  2. LOL! Good advice. I'll remind my writing friends.

  3. This reminds me of that part on Anne of Avonlea where she's writing on the beach and the wind picks up and scatters her pages to infinity and beyond. Five bucks says she didn't have her pages numbered. Shame, shame.

  4. Linn's answer to where one should put page numbers: top right. To be clear, that's just where she likes them to be and may not be "industry standard."