The writers out there will note that book length requirements were different back then than now — 47K to 67K words…today, most commercial publishers, even those that print erotica, do not want anything under 80K words (c. 300-325 manuscripts pages, coming out to printed books of 250-270 pages). Harlequin still likes books in the 50-60K range (for those 192 page books); when I wrote for Blue Moon, my books ranged anywhere from a short 30K words to a normal 80K words, but average about 60K. They never said otherwise; they never said anything was taboo, really, except “illegal” matters like rape and pedophilia and beastiality (more zoning laws in NY City when it came to obcenity than anything else).
A. Length: Regular adult novels & nonfiction-44,000 to 47,000 words;
Classics-50,000 and up;
Gay classics-63,000 to 66,000
B. Chaptering: Regular adult novels-exactly twelve, which may vary in length.
Chapters should be numbered, whether or not they bear titles. This matter should be centered at least six spaces above body copy.
C. Copy must be typewritten (pica or elite only), double-spaced on one side only of unlined 8- 1/2×11 white paper. (No erasable or corrasible bond, please.) Leave approximately 1-inch margins top, bottom and sides.
D. Use pencil only for corrections; ink markings hamper our editing process. Typing and page-numbering should be neat and accurate.
E. In fiction, we require strong emphasis on plot development and story ideas above all else, with a house taboo on irrelevant padding of any sort. The erotic content must be integral to characterization and story progression; it must be strong, meaningful and real.
In nonfiction (credentialed author or co-author preferred), we expect very specific case materials, with natural speech content, balanced by dignified scholarly commentary or narration.
F. We prefer sample chapter and outline, on new material only; we are not interested in examining old manuscripts. Report is within two weeks, and payment is on acceptance, with rate dependent on frequency of acceptance.
G. All submissions must be accompanied by sufficient return postage and self-addressed envelope. We assume no responsibility whatever for unsolicited manuscripts.
A. Reference Works*
1. The American College Dictionary (ACD), C.L. Barnhart, Editor in Chief; Random House, 1963 to date.
2. 20,000 Words, Louis A. Leslie, McGraw-Hill, 1965.
3. The New Roget’s Thesaurus, Edited by Norman Lewis, Garden City Books, 1961.
4. Dictionary of American Slang, Wentworth and Flexner, Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1960.
*NOTE-These are standard reference volumes used in our editorial offices. We urge all authors to have copies of at least the first two, as our critiques may refer to information therein. 20,000 Words contains a section entitled “Punctuation Simplified” (pages 237-247), which is an invaluable guide.
B. Additional notes on punctuation and style
1. Brand Names: Avoid, otherwise watch spelling and caps, especially Coke (Coca-Cola), Jell-O, Levi’s (note apostrophe), Technicolor. But: diesel, quonset.
2. Capitalization: Generally, “down” style-a.m., p.m., summer, winter, etc.; the lieutenant (but Lieutenant Jones), the homicide division, the city, the state, the Taft building. If in doubt, check the ACD.
3. Commas and semicolons:
a. Read carefully pages 237-245 of 20,000 Words, with particular attention to the sections on apposition and nonrestrictive expressions.
b. In dialogue sequences, a comma must be used to separate attribution from following action (“Good-bye,” he said, and left), except in subordinate form (“Good-bye,” he said as he left).
c. Terms of address are always set off by commas, before and after.
“Henry, I wish you wouldn’t do that.”
“I asked you not to do that, dear.”
“Damn it, Henry, stop that right now!”
4. Dashes: Use two hyphens, no spacing in or around. (I think we-watch out!)
Indicates radical interruption: parenthetical interjection, midsentence thought shift, interrupted dialogue.
5. Ellipses: (…) Three dots only, no spacing in oraround. Indicates tapering off to silence, stuttering, breathy speech, pregnant pause.
6. Definitions: Know your meanings; be certain you mean what you say and vice versa. If in doubt, check the ACD. Especially watch fulsome, noisome, unique, and other such sneakies-strict definition use only. Do not use “oblivious to;” the correct form is “oblivious (forgetful) of.” Do not use “different than;” the correct form is “different (varying) from.”
7. Hyphenation: For general rules, see pg. 246, 20,000 Words. For special cases, check the attached word list. House rules: Good-looking (all-lookings), half-hearted, well-heeled, and all such “new meaning” combinations are hyphenated anywhere in sentence.
8. Italics: Use sparingly for word emphasis not given by context, for uncommon foreign words, for brief speechlike thoughts. Do not use for: “He said no.” “She said yes.”; nor for commonly borrowed foreign words (savoir faire, per se, fiancee, etc.); nor for long passages (three lines or more) of any sort. Always use for names of newspapers (the New York Times, the Gazette), magazines, books, ships, airplanes (but not for makes and models of ships, planes, autos): Lindbergh’s plane was called The Spirit of St. Louis. We flew on a Boeing 707.
9. Numbers: Small numbers (under 100) generally should be spelled out; larger ones may be written as numerals or spelled out, as writer prefers, but consistency must be maintained throughout the manuscript. (Particularly when stating times of day and characters’ ages). In dialogue, all numbers should be spelled out, as people do not speak in numerals. Note the following examples for general rules:
a. Three-thirty or 3:30; five-forty-five or 5:45; six o’clock or 6:00. Kill redundancies such as “at ten p.m. that night,” “at 12 midnight.”
b. A four-year-old, or a four-year-old boy, but four years old; a three-week vacation; but three weeks’ vacation.
c. One hundred forty-six (no and); Fifty-second Street (note caps); $5,000 (note comma).
d. Twenty dollars, but twenty-dollar bill; ten thousand dollars, but ten-thousand-dollar bills (unless there are ten bills of a grand each).
e. Height: Don’t use figures. Don’t abbreviate or use symbols for “inches” and “feet.”
f. Weight: Numerals or spelled out, but do not abbreviate the words “pounds” and “ounces.”
10. Possessives: In general, be sure you know the difference between possessives and plurals: possessives take apostrophes, plurals do not. (That is Mary’s book. Two Marys were invited to the party. This is my brother’s wife. Those are my sisters’ husbands.) Also watch the difference between possessives and contractions. (Whose book is that? I don’t know who’s at the door. That door is off its hinges. It’s about to fall down.) Our preference possessives ending in “s”: the boss’ daughter; Gonzales’ serape; the Joneses’ house (or, the Jones home); Willis’ wagon; but Bruce’s, Candace’s,Denise’s, etc.
11. Prefixes and Suffixes: “Half” is usually separate, except to form an adjective before a noun (note exceptions in word list). “Over” and “re” never take a hyphen unless necessary for clarity (okay are: overripe, reenter, reread, rework). “Ex”, “pseudo”, “quasi”, “self”, and “ultra” always take hyphens, “non” usually does; “like” usually needs no hyphen, “maker” usually does. (ex-husband, pseudo-intellectual, quasi-literate, self-esteem, ultra-modern, non-American, apelike, movie-maker) Also watch “ally” suffixes on such words as: accidentally, frantically, incidentally. When in doubt, check word list and ACD.
12. Quotes: Don’t use singles except inside doubles; for so-called effect, it’s: her “cousin” was, in fact, her lover. Punctuation goes outside quotation marks with one-word quotes only; two words or more, inside; of course, this does not apply to one-word comments in dialogue.
13. Spelled Sounds: Do not go to ridiculous extremes. In general, use these forms: aargh (pain); ah (one h), oh (one h); oh-oh (surprise); en? Hmm? Huh? Humph (doubt, scorn or indifference); mmm (delectation); uh-huh or mm-hmm (yes); uh-uh or unh-uh (no); uh (hesitation); psst, shh. Others, use your own judgment, but please don’t get carried away.
14. Spelling: See attached word list and the ACD. Always use American spellings, not British; color, favor, savor, etc.; caliber, fiber, luster, meager, somber, specter, theater, etc.; afterward, backward (one exception in word list), downward, forward, inward, outward, sideward, toward, upward; dialed, dialing, signaled, signaling, traveled, traveling, marveled, marveling, etc. (Usually, the “l” is doubled only when the emphasis falls on the last syllable, as in: propel, propelling.)
C. TABOO TERMS
Under current contemporary standards, adult fiction knows no restrictions as to word usage. However, please do not abuse this freedom of expression. There is no need to clutter up the manuscript with an overabundance of “shock words” in the narrative, simply to fill up space; use them only where appropriate. In fiction, we prefer use of slang terms to clinical terms in describing parts of the body and the actions in which they engage.
Do not use the following terms to describe anatomical parts (there is no need to be “cute” or evasive): his masculinity, his manhood, his avenger, her mammaries, her womanhood, her femininity.
To avoid tedious repetition of certain descriptive terms, refer to the Dictionary of American Slang or use your imagination-but again, don’t get too carried away.
D. PESTIFEROUS PAIRS
adverse: contrary; opposing in effect (seldom applied to persons)
averse: opposed; having an aversion
affect: (v.) to act on; to change; to impress; to influence
effect: (n.) result; (v.) to bring about
avert: turn aside (one’s eyes) or ward off (evil)
avoid: to keep away from, stay clear of, shun, evade
a while: a period of time
awhile: for a period of time
callous: (adj.) hardened; (v.) to become hard
callus: (n.) a hardened part of the skin
compose: to make up
comprise: to consist of; include
confidant: (n.) one in whom secrets are confided
confidante: (n.) feminine form of above word
confident: (adj.) certain, self-assured
eminent: noted, prominent
hangar: for airplanes
hanger: for clothes
it’s: contraction of it is
lay, laid, laid (transitive) to place or put
lie, lay, lain (intransitive) recline
raise, raised, raised: (transitive) to elevate, to lift, to rear children
rise, rose, risen: (intransitive) to go up
repulse: to push away
revulse: to revolt or sicken
tortuous: twisting or complex
principal: (adj.) chief, main (n.) central figure, basic debt, director of a school
principle: (n. always) a rule
rack: as a verb, strain or torture
wrack: noun only, meaning wreckage (flotsam or jetsam)
sensual: inclined to gratification of the senses; voluptuous
sensuous: of or pertaining to the senses; perceived by or affecting the senses
E. WORD FAT-a few common excessive forms to be reduced:
supposing = suppose (This is an imperative verb form: a sentence begun with it should end with a period.)
her own, his own = her, his (unless clarity compels)
excepting = except; off of = off; or from; a ways = a way
the both of them, or the two of them = both, they, or them
Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go! = Go, do, go! (Three will suffice at any time for any word or sound being repeated as a chant, shout, etc.)
Excess repetition of that girl, the man, the blonde, etc., once the characters’ names are known to the reader
Excess repetition of characters’ full names (except for special emphasis)
Excess use of bare, nude, naked, etc., once the condition is obvious, or as in: “He reached inside her blouse and bra to touch her naked breast.” Or, after an undressing scene, the completely unnecessary statements: “Then they were naked,” “Then he was as bare as she was,” etc.
Totally unnecessary use of “a pair of,” “two”, “both”, “Twin”, etc., in reference to breasts, arms, legs, buttocks, etc.
Unnecessary use of “of her” and “of him” to show possession, as in: “The breathtaking loveliness of her,” “the strength of him.” Should be: “her breathtaking loveliness,” “his strength,” etc.
Compiled by our editors from notes on most frequently misspelled words in manuscripts. (Asterisks denote departure from ACD form, indicating house preferences.) For all words not listed, use the first form given in the ACD.
acknowledgment, acknowledgeable, acknowledging
advertise, advertisement, advertiser, advertising
air-condition (er, ed, ing)
all right (never alright)
any more (never anymore)
any place (always)
any time (always
backwards (in reverse order)*
blond (masc., noun & adj.)
blonde (fem., noun & adj.)
bourbon (no cap)
brassiere (bra is okay)
brief-case* (but attaché case)
cafe (no accent)*
Canadian whisky (no e)
cave man (n.), cave-man (adj.)
chaise longue (but lounge chair)
cheekbone* (but collar bone, etc.)
coiffeur (hair stylist)
coiffure (hairdo; coiffed, adj.)
cross-eyed (but cockeyed)
cross-town (all forms)
damn, damned, damn it, damnedest
diesel* (no cap)
dinner time, lunch time, supper time
double cross (noun only)
dumfounded (no b)
embarrass (ed, ing, ment)
everyday (adj. only)
fiery (never firey)
focus, focused, focusing
guage (estimate-never gage)
gouge (to scoop out)
glamorous (but glamour)
goddamn, goddamn it, goddamnedest*
good night (but good-night kiss; said their good-nights)
good will (n.), good-will (adj.)
half-day, half-dollar, half-hour, half-mile (but half an hour, etc.)
halfway (adj. & adv.)
hangover* (but hung-over)
hardhead (n.), hard-headed (adj.)
heartbreak (all forms)
inside out (hyphenate before a noun)
intern (n.), interne (f.)
jackknife (n. & v.), jackknifed
Juggernaut (note cap)
kidnaped (one p, all forms)
Lesbian, Lesbianism (always cap)*
Lez, Lezzie (never use Les, Lessie)
leveled (one l, all forms)
lieutenant (cap only before or as a name)
lovemaking (no hyphen)
ma’am or madame (polite term of address)*
madam (one who runs a house, not a home)
machine gun (n.), machine-gun (adj. & v.)
make-up (all forms except verb), ditto made-up
mustache (never mou–)
nearby (adj. & adv.)
negligee (no accent)
night club, night spot
nickel (metal & coin)
occur, occurrence, occurred, occurring
okay (never O.K.)
paneled (one l, all forms)
passed (verb form)
past (adj., adv., or prep.)
Peeping Tom (note caps)
per cent (but percentage)
pickup (n. & adj.), pick up (v.)
practice (all forms)
recur, recurred, recurrent, etc.
redhead (n.), red-headed (adj.)
right side up (hyphenate before nouns)
schoolboy, schoolgirl, schoolteacher
Scotch whisky (no e)
separate (v. or adj.)
setup (n.), set up (v.)
shined (polished), shone (gave light)
short wave (all forms)
signaled (one l, all forms)
sledge hammer (n.), sledge-hammer (adj.)
smolder (no u)
some place (never someplace)
sports coat (jacket, shirt, car, etc.)
strip tease (but strip-teaser, -tease act)
teen-age, teen-ager (always hyphenated)
terry cloth (n. & adj.)
thrash (only farmers thresh)
towhead (n.), tow-headed (adj.)
tranquil, tranquilizer, tranquillity
TV (always caps, no periods or space)
unselfconscious (but self-conscious)
upside down (hyphenate before nouns)
weekend* (all forms)
whiskey (all except Scotch and Canadian)
worshiped (one p, all forms)
worthwhile* (all forms)
zigzag (all forms)