Prepare Your Manuscript: The How, What and Why

February 11, 2019 11:00 am

Once you’ve finished writing a book, you are often left wondering what to do next? Not only do you need to prepare your manuscript for print and publishing – but you need to be prepared too. Book Printing UK takes a look at some stages you need to be certain you’ve ticked off your to-do list…

Whether working with an editor or as an independent author, shaping a manuscript for the last stages before publication can be stressful and confusing. From formatting to finalizing all the minor details, an author has a lot of steps to cover before they’re done. Here’s a quick look at a few you’ll need to prepare for.

prepare your manuscript

Review, Revise, Rinse, Repeat

The majority of the work in writing a manuscript relies on rewriting and reviewing every passage for tonal and structural perfection. The developmental edit and takes a broad swipe at inconsistencies, errors, arrangement, and pace. The narrative arc of the story can change if chapters are reorganised for more clarity and readability in the text. In following edits, style and consistency remain the focus but become more finely-tuned as the process goes on.

Editing is notoriously harder and more strenuous than the actual writing process. You’re prone to taking critique as negative criticism – but don’t let it dishearten you, even The Old Man and the Sea was edited several times. Our publishing experts offer an editor’s evaluation to help authors with this to ensure your work is ready.

Formatting and Style Guidelines

All manuscripts have very similar components when it comes to publishing. The different elements of a book are usually organised into three categories:

  • Front Matter. This can include the frontispiece, title page, copyright page, dedication page, epigraph, table of contents, foreword, preface and acknowledgement. If you want to know more about how to write and structure an introduction, we have a blog for that.
  • Body Matter. This includes any parts and chapters of the book, as well as pages like a conclusion, epilogue, afterword and postscript.
  • End Matter. Many elements at the end of the book will be highly dependent on the book’s style but could include an appendix, glossary, bibliography or references and copyright or other permissions. Also, be sure not to forget about the blurb.

Make sure you’ve ticked all of these boxes before continuing. As a reference, take a few of your favourite published books and go through them – does your work mirror theirs?

Creating Supplemental Material

Some manuscripts may require supplemental packets if the pages include artwork, charts or graphs, and other materials that aren’t text-based formats. In the case of artwork, high-resolution files should be provided so they can be processed without loss of quality. The publisher determines how these files should be shared or submitted alongside the manuscript.

Make sure you’re aware of what your book requires and if any additional questions need to be asked.

Securing Backups: Digital and Print

Many authors may have learned the hard way that something as simple as frequently saved and readily available backups of their manuscript are essential resources for their work. Digital and print versions of the manuscript in its final form should be kept secure and protected in case of damage. A good hard-shell case for the physical storage of a laptop or even copies can be a good investment, as are different cloud storage types for online access. Editors will conduct version checks with an author to be sure they are working on the most recent one together.

Essentially, have more than one copy of each back-up version – be it on a USB or otherwise.

Take Advantage of What’s Available

You may be thinking ‘what do you mean?’ to that heading, but a quick Google search can provide a host of resources and companies willing to help do small pieces for you to help prepare you (in hope to obtain your business) – with that, they won’t be a sloppy job either! For example, we offer a free file assessment to see if your files are ready to be sent to the printers, and if they’re not, we’ll supply you with a report of what needs to be done. Take advantage of the help out there.

Submitting a manuscript can be a long and challenging process, but the rewards pay off in a polished piece ready for publication. Remember that, and the goal you set yourself.