Postal Submissions Instructions

Stone Dragon PressText (Book) Style Sheet
a guide to making sure we don't bounce
your book for mechanical reasons

This document outlines the minimum mechanical standards we expect when you send a submission. (A mechanical standard is something that doesn't have to do with the content of your book, like margins and spelling—unless your book is about margins and spelling.) If you fail any one of these mechanicals, we will bounce your submission without reading it at all. Check the  • FAQ  if you have any questions.
Size North America: 8 1/2 x 11 (standard business sheet).
Everyone else: A4 paper is acceptable.
Color White. Submissions on any other color will be thrown away immediately.
Side Print on one side only. Submissions printed on two sides will be thrown away immediately.
Typeface We prefer Palatino; we will accept Times, and we will grumble but accept Courier. No sans serif typefaces, please!
Font 12 pt (at least).
Spacing At least 1.5 space; we prefer double space.
Print Quality Excellent black print only, especially if photocopied. O Gods, hear our plea: save us from colors, faint printing, and dot matrix printers.
Margins 1 inch or 2.5 cm on each side.
Numbering Be sure every page has a page number on it. Please make its position consistent from page to page.
ID Marks Somewhere on each page, put your name and the book's name. Please make the position of these items consistent from page to page. If the book's name is long (The Reticulan, The Captain, His Ship, and Its Engines), you may abbreviate in some recognizable way (RCSE).
Quantity Send one (1) copy of the first 25 pages of your book. Note: the first chapter may be too little or too much. Send only the first 25 pages.
Cover sheet Type your name, contact information, the name of your book. No pelts, no pitches, no nothing. Name, contact info, name of book. See  • sample cover sheet 
Envelopes Your entire submission should have six envelopes:
  1. The outside envelope. Your submission should lay flat in the envelope—a standard 9x12 envelope is ideal.
    1. Put your full return address in the upper left corner.
    2. Put our full address in the middle.
    3. In the lower left, write "Attn: Slush Pile" unless you are an agent sending this in for someone else; if so, write "Attn: Rep Submission" instead.
    4. Put on the right amount of postage. Don't bloody guess! We'll return anything postage due.
  2. The return envelope. What we return should lay flat in the envelope—a standard 9x12 envelope is ideal.
    1. Put your full return address in the middle.
    2. Put our full address in the upper left corner.
    3. Put on the right amount of postage (same amount as the outside envelope; foreign submissions: please use international return mail coupons).
  3. Four "yes, we got it" (YWGI) envelopes These envelopes should all be regular (#10) business envelopes. We will use them to let you know where your MS is in our process. On each one:
    1. Put your full return address in the middle.
    2. Put our full address in the upper left corner.
    3. Put on the right amount of postage (domestic, 1 oz, should do; foreign submissions: please use international return mail coupons).
Proofing We will pull four (4) pages from your sample at random. If we find an average of 1 error (grammatical or typo) per page, we will bounce your sample.
Binding NONE! No binding at all! We'll handle it, really! Don't even staple it!

 • TOP 

What happens if I do everything right except one thing?
Boing! We'll bounce your book without looking at the story.
Why are you so mean and persnickety?
We see a lot of manuscripts. Lots of manuscripts. Lots and lots. For those of you with higher math, many-many-lots. Life is short, and our print schedule is crowded. We don't care about your book more than you do, and if you don't care enough about your book to meet these standards...
Will you really bounce my MS for one little mistake?
OK, here's the real truth. Everyone knows that Editors spring from a ray that ennobles the universe and informs it with all that is good. They are creatures of truly fine sensibility who would never be so cruel as to reject your obviously superior MS on the basis of a single mechanical error.

Unfortunately, these Beings of Aht and Beautieh are mortal and are limited in time and space; thus, they are not the first to see your MS. Your MS is first seen by Clerks, the antithesis of all Editing.

Clerks are barely humanoid life-forms drawn from the cooling pools of leaky nuclear reactors. A diet of raw hamburger laced with thorazine and saltpeter combined with the most severe Pavlovian conditioning has rendered them...usable. They have been taught to read and to write and to recognize the mechanical conditions we require. The lingering flicker of humanity in them will sometimes bring out a smidgen of compassion that lets your MS pass even though it has mistakes; but at the end of the day, the Clerks are long from lunch and the thorazine is wearing off. They are hungry, ugly, and alert. The chances your MS will get through with a mistake in it, well...
But I'm no good at stuff like that.
I'll never get a book in because you guys are so anal.
If you are no good at stuff like that, hire someone who is. There's a starving English teacher near you who needs some appreciation. If you really do live in Monkey's Butt Nowhere, you can hire us to proof your MS, but that is absolutely no indication at all that we will take your book. You send it, we proof it, you pay us, we send it back. Then you can send the MS to the submissions part of our deal.
Will you proof my book for me?
Yes; you will pay dearly for it (at least $20/hour), and it won't mean we are taking your book. It means you hired us to proof it for you.
Do authors with agents get better treatment than me?
Yes. The agent does a lot of the mechanical checking for us, and that means we can move the represented MS through faster. It also means the author has proven it can write, and it means the book is probably in our field. We also don't have to teach an author's agent how to read a contract—something we are likely to have to do with you. Finally, Agents and Editors are members of a Secret Society, so Agents sometimes get to send an MS directly to an Editor and skip the lower levels.
Will you explain the contract to me?
Yes, but before you sign, you should have an attorney look at it no matter what idle claims we make about its inherent virtue.
What happens to my book when it gets there?
It goes into this enormo-tronic pile called the slush pile. "Slush" means "doesn't have an agent yet," and doesn't carry stigma. OK, that's a lie: it carries stigma, but what do you care as long as you sell us a book? Then you'll get an agent, get better treatment, and pass the stigma down to other slush pile authors with a haughty I'm published and you're not so there upturning of your nose.

Anyway, we keep the slush pile in chronological order, and we read it that way, too. When we get to your MS sample, we check to see if you put in a return envelope (RE) and four "yes, we got it" (YWGI) envelopes.

  • If none of them are there, we throw your MS away.
  • If the RE is there but not the YWGI, we'll process your MS, and you'll chew your nails off worrying about it. You won't hear from us until the end or until you get your MS back in the mail.
  • If the YWGI are there but not the RE, we send you a note saying you missed the RE, and we throw your MS away.
  • If they are all there, we send you a note in one of the YWGI saying yes, we got it, and it's in process. This is not an acceptance letter! Mother taught us to be polite, so we thought we'd just let you know what's going on.

Next, we do the rest of the mechanical checking, and if your book fails, we send it back to you with a note stating why (which mechanicals you failed). If your book passes mechanicals, we send it to a copy editor, and we send you another YWGI note.

The copy editor checks to see if you can actually write a sentence that makes sense; it also checks to see what kind of MS this is (skiffy, speffy, horror, fantasy, romance [we don't take romance—it was just an example!], and so on. If your sentences have good semantic value, and you wrote the kind of book we take, your MS gets kicked up to an assistant editor, and we send you another YWGI note.

The assistant editor is the first person who actually reads your MS. It reads the entire sample and analyzes what you sent. It writes comments to the editor (all kinds of comments, believe-you-me), and it makes a recommendation about seeing the rest of your MS. The assistant editor then kicks your MS up to the editor even if it didn't like your MS, and we send you another YWGI note.

The editor reads the MS, reviews the comments, reviews the recommendation, and makes a final decision. At this point, we either send you a letter telling you we want to see the rest of your MS or we don't want your MS at all. If we do want to see it, it's no guarantee we'll take your book, but you're farther than almost everyone. If we don't want to see it, we'll usually say why.

No matter what happens to your MS, please submit again, and be sure to keep your mechanicals straight.
What genres do you accept?
Well, we're fairly broad, and it's OK if your book falls across genres. If it falls across too many genres, it will probably hurt itself and have to go to the ER, so think carefully about what you put in the cover letter. The following categories are soft, not hard. They are just conventions most people recognize. Here's the list:

  • Speculative fiction
  • Paganism
  • Alternative spiritualities
  • Science fiction (hard)
  • Science fiction (soft)
  • Horror
  • Fantasy (high)
  • Fantasy (low)
  • Science fantasy

If you have an agent, you can pretty well submit any kind of fiction book; but note that we tend to marginalize romance. If your agent wants to submit a fact book, we'll at least look at it, but the more technical it is, the less likely we will be to take it (We'd take Gleick's Chaos, Kosko's Fuzzy Logic, or Weschler's Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonders, but please keep something like Notes on Structure and Programming of Software Systems or like Nonlinear Imaging and Optics. We'll get to books like that later on.) The exceptions to this are new religious movement studies and textbooks—we are very willing to discuss those.
Oh, good! You'll take almost anything! Can I send you a Star Wars book or a Star Trek book?
We really can't do anything with a book that takes place in someone else's copyrighted (©) or trademarked (TM or ®) sandbox. It's against the law UNLESS it's satire. Satire is protected speech (Gods bless the authors of the First Amendment and the Supreme Court members who so ruled), so if you've got a really sassy, biting, ironic satire of someone else's well-known work, OK; otherwise, sorry.
The cover letter seems pretty sparse. Shouldn't I try to sell my book to you in my cover letter?
No. Well, let me rephrase that: NO! Any sales pitch you make would be idle claims—guesses, or ego boo, or something. Just write a good book and let the book sell itself.
Can I send some thing to you and to another publisher at the same time? Can I make simultaneous submissions?
We prefer that you do not. We understand your position: if you finish your book, submit it, and wait six months per submission to get rejected, it will take you two years to go through four publishers.

Please understand our position: we read your book, we talk about it, we like it, we even start talking art and covers over coffee, we tell you we want your book, and we get a letter from you that says, "Sorry, sold it to Super Science Books last week." Maybe you're thinking, "That's good—they'd have to hurry to make a decision about my book. Kind of an auction deal; best price for me." No, that's bad—there are plenty of books in the slush pile, and our terms are firm (see the  • Stone Dragon Press FAQ  or our  • model contract  for details).

If you do submit your book to us while another publisher is already looking at it, you must say so in your cover letter. Please add the sentence, "I am simultaneously submitting this to list of other publishers here." You can imagine we'll be pretty unhappy if we find out you didn't tell us—your picture will be the favorite dart board background for a long, long time.
How do you choose the four random pages?
Some days we have a 25-sided die. Some days we have a 2-sider and a 5-sider. Some days we drive with the windows down until only four pages are left.
If you throw so much stuff away, how will I know you got my MS?
Send it by private courier. If you can't afford that, send it USPS-return receipt requested. You'll get a little green card in the mail that is proof we got it. If you send it via USPS so we have to sign for it, we won't sign for it.
I only have one copy, the original. Should I send that to you?
No. Always send a disposable copy. The post office might lose it; we might lose it. Do you want to lose the original? No. Send a copy.


Anne Author
456 Main St.
Anytown, ST 11011

612-555-1212 (home)

The Reticulan, The Captain, His Ship, and Its Engines.