1) Length of Manuscript. In short they wanted nothing beyond 90,000 words with a disclaimer that they'd look at larger works if they were exceptionally good. I stared for a while at my fat word count of 120,000. There is no way I can cut anything out of this beast. It is plot, plot, plot the whole way through. Why? It used to be 170,000 words. Yes. I said it. I actually thought back in the day that a 170,000 word novel was marketable by a debut novelist. How did I figure this out? I read Stephanie Meyer's blog. She said that Twilight almost didn't sell at 145,000 words. I thought...holy shit...if Twilight almost got rejected at 145,000 words there's no freaking way in hell I'm going to stand a chance. I spent a month trimming and rewriting my book to fit neatly in 120,000 words. And it wasn't neat. I hired an editor for $300.00 (she's damn good by the way) and we cut every single useless word that we could find out of my book. We replaced the weak verbs with powerful ones to shorten sentences. In the end...almost 120,000 words exactly. So yeah...I totally ignored this part of the submission and send to hell with it...not like I haven't seen rejection already.
2) Formatting. I had to use .rtf format...easy and done.
3) Include a short, one-paragraph note in the body of the email, so as to introduce yourself, if you are submitting to DDP for the first time. Okay...I thought what can I say about myself that's interesting? Then I realized I had already done this in the "about me" section of my blog and a commenter had said it was funny. Cut and paste and done. Lesson...you should do an "about me" section in case you ever need to cut and paste, or in the event you need it for other websites. It'll save you so much time.
4) More formatting guidelines. Here was the hairy stuff. A single .rtf file. Oh boy. And it needed all of this:
A. Format, Font: Times New Roman, regular, 12 point.Okay...so I wasn't going to read through my whole manuscript and fix this. No frickin' way. But I didn't have to because Microsoft Word has replace features. ^t is the symbol you use for tab. Replaced all of them with nothing and used the indent feature. Done. ^p is the carriage return symbol. So I replaced all the ones that had excess spaces with ones that didn't. Additionally, I replaced all of the "." with one space after them with a "." with two spaces.
B. Format, Paragraph, Indents and Spacing, General: Alignment = left, Outline Level = body text. Indentation: Left = 0, Right = 0. Special = First line, By = .5. Spacing: Before = 0 pt. After = 0 pt. Line Spacing = single.
- Do not put blank lines between the paragraphs of text.
- Do not use headers or footers, and do not number the pages.
- Use one-inch margins.
- Leave two spaces between sentences.
- Thoughts expressed by a character, as opposed to spoken words, must be italicized rather than placed within quotation marks. Foreign words or phrases, and words that the author wishes to emphasize, must also be italicized. Do not use underlining for this purpose.
- Do not press the Tab key at the beginning of each paragraph! Doing so will double the degree of indentation. If you habitually do that, and are now putting a completed manuscript into the format we require, please remove all the Tab arrows at the beginning of each paragraph. To render those Tab arrows visible, click on the Show/Hide icon in the Standard MS Word toolbar. (You can use Find and Replace to remove the Tab marks. Click on Find, More, Special, Tab Character. Click on replace. Leave Replace blank. Click on Replace All. The Tab arrows will all vanish.)
- We strongly recommend that you get into the habit of activating the Show/Hide icon on the Standard MS Word Toolbar as you write, so as to see not only the arrows made by the Tab key, but also the dots representing spaces and the symbols representing paragraph marks.
- Try not to leave two spaces at the end of the last sentence of a paragraph. Those wrap around. In some formats used by publishers, those wrapped-around spaces can cause trouble. We urge you to perform the tedious task of removing those, if they abound in your manuscript, before sending it to us
So yeah, Microsoft Word is your friend. It's powerful. Know how to use it. You may need it for submitting to agents, publishers, editors, or whoever.
Oh and writing those query letter and the synopsis is something I don't think a writer can ever get around. I used my query as a short synopsis when I submitted my manuscript and then I already had the regular synopsis done so that wasn't a headache either. I'm thankful that I spent a year querying agents because it really wasn't that hard when the time came down to it to put together the package. It only took like four hours work tops.