When an author has a publishing contract and has finished the manuscript, the author may rely on the assistant to prepare the manuscript for final submission before publication.
In the publishing industry, we refer to a book that is still in draft form (not yet typeset in book form) as a manuscript. The length of a manuscript is generally discussed in word count. A typical nonfiction book will be 25,000 to 100,000 words, with most in the 40,000 to 70,000 range. To make a conversion from word count to page count, to judge the number of finished pages in a book when it is still in manuscript form, use a rough count of 250 words per page. A manuscript of 50,000 words would be approximately 200 pages as a completed book.
It is advisable for the author to have the manuscript edited before the submission by a professional editor.
The assistant will need to know the “standard” submission format for that publisher. That information may have come along with the author’s contract or the assistant may need to check that specific publisher’s web site to determine how that publisher would like a manuscript to be submitted.
Manuscript Submission Format – Electronic
Currently, most manuscripts and book proposals are submitted via email with a short cover note. The note is always addressed to an individual person, such as “Dear Jane” (an editor at the publisher who specializes in your author’s type of book. Never submit to “Dear Sirs” or “To Whom It May Concern”. Attached to the email is one file for the book proposal and a second for the manuscript (could be the full manuscript of just two chapters.
Manuscript Submission Format – Hard Copy
When the author is submitting an entire manuscript for publication, the publisher does not want it to be “designed” (unless the book has already been self published). They want to receive them in both electronic and printed form, generally like this
• 20 lb. white bond 8 ½ x 11” paper
• Times New Roman, 12 point
• Flush left, 1.25 margins on both sides
• Consecutively page numbered from beginning to end on the top right corner of each page
• No other headers and footers, other than the page number
• Pages should be loose – not in a notebook or otherwise bound
Most publishers would like the author to use Microsoft Word for the text and Adobe Illustrator for the graphics.
Everything should be submitted that the author wants in the book, including the dedication, acknowledgments, etc., and in this order.
There are two exceptions to this:
1. The words in the table of contents should be included but without page numbers
2. Also, if the author’s book will have an index at the back, then this is supplied later, after the book is typeset and is not included in the manuscript submission.
Since the manuscript will be double-spaced, you will need to use indents to show where paragraphs begin. Do not use the space bar on the computer to create the indents. Instead set the tabs in Word.
Setting the Margins in Word
1. Open up the doc in Word
2. Click on Format at the top of the screen
3. Click on Document
4. Make sure Margins is highlighted
5. Add to or subtract to enter the right numbers for the top/bottom and left/right margins
6. Apply to Whole Document
7. Click OK
Setting Tabs and Double-Spacing in Word
1. Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, and then click Word Options.
2. Click Proofing.
3. Under AutoCorrection settings, click AutoCorrect Options, and then click the AutoFormat As You Type tab.
4. Select the Set left- and first-indent with tabs and backspaces check box.
5. To indent the first line of a paragraph, click in front of the line.
6. Press the TAB key
Style Sheet and Permissions
Many publishers would also like the author to submit a style sheet, which is a page the author has kept during the writing and editing process to clarify decisions that have been made on capitalization, use of numbers and more to make sure the manuscript is consistent. Some authors do these and others don’t.
Some publishers also require that any necessary permissions forms be turned in with the manuscript. It is important to get the permissions early enough in the process to be able to do this.
Watch a Slidecast
Download material for your notebook
Sample Manuscript Submission Instructions from New World Library (you will need this if you do the practice exercises)