Why Your Manuscript’s Cover Sheet Matters

Three reasons why your cover sheet could tell us more than you think


  1. First impressions matter. If your cover sheet is clean and well-presented, you’re already starting off on the right foot. We ask that manuscripts are typed in double line spacing on white A4 paper – hand-written manuscripts are not accepted.


  1. It provides us with the information we need. On the cover sheet, it’s helpful to include the title of your short story, your name, and the pen name you’d like to use, if this applies. At the bottom of the page, it helps us to have your name and full address including postcode; your telephone number; and your email address. It’s also helpful to let us know if it’s set seasonally (i.e. Christmas, Hallowe’en, Summer).


  1. It helps us plan where we can place your work. Specifying the wordage on the cover sheet helps us work out where your story will fit in. The weekly edition of the “Friend” has story lengths of 1000, 1200, 2000, and 3000 words. 4000 word stories are welcome for our Specials. Long reads are 9,500 words. And Pocket Novels come in at 37,000 words. We allow 10% wriggle room!


The first page of your actual manuscript is important, too. More than three or four basic spelling mistakes or grammatical errors on page one means we may return it to you for review.  I’ve just finished reading Lila, by Marilynne Robinson. Before I’d turned the first page, I already felt completely in that time, in that place, as though I’d been parachuted into her world. Your first page can set the scene, introduce characters, and give an idea of the overall tone of the book.


We read every manuscript we receive and endeavour to give each one a fair chance, so we’ll always read past page one. But it’s often enough to give a good indication of what’s to come.

Ready to submit? Read our guidelines to keep you on track


Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 150 years of 'Friend' fiction!