The key to being a successful author is to write! Obviously, you might say, however the next key is to ensure you write your book into the correct kind of format on the software accepted by most, if not all, Publishers.
So often would-be authors fall into the trap of wanting their manuscript or book to “look nice” by using a Publisher package with fancy fonts, pretty decals, spiffy underlining or paragraph separations, headers and footers and more. However, all these pretty little inclusions become an absolute nightmare for the editor or print proof-reader because of their hidden formatting codes. Whilst your book may look nice, and you know that these inclusions can be “deleted” what often happens is that stray formatting codes, unseen by the eye, can upset the whole document. In some cases the fancy font turns into $ or ?marks which you may have seen in some sloppy ePubs or print books. This occurred, usually, because the author was trying to make everything look “nice!” Instead it ended up very messy.
So please follow the basic rule of KISS - Keep it Simply Simple.
Your Book Manuscript. The first step is to create a “folder” and then open a document within that folder, generally in a WORD processing program or something similar. This word processing program is accepted by the publishing industry. Make a “folder” and name it your book’s working title.
Working title: You may get this “name” immediately, but often the book morphs into something else along its journey of creation. Don’t worry, just use any old name and know that the right title will present itself when the time is right. If you really can’t think of anything appropriate, just use “My Book 1” with the expectation that many more books will come along in the future.
Inside your folder, named “MY Book 1” open a basic document in double or one and half line spacing, A4 sized paper with regular two cm/or one-inch margins. Use a basic font such as Ariel, Times Roman or Verdana. Do not use a brush script anything like papyrus, much as they look very attractive they are often not universal and may open in your editor’s computer with a very different look, including incorrect letters or numbers.
Never-evers: Keep your manuscript very basic, therefore - Never do a series of space-bars for an indentation - Only one space after every sentence - Never do a series of returns to create extra space between paragraphs or between segments - No Tabulations - No tables, No pie-charts - no included photographs or illustrations or diagrams.
If diagrams or photos are to be included put them in a separate version of your book that you name: Photo/Diagram Placement -- but give your editor/publisher a totally clean copy for them to process into your book.
Again remember our KISS motto!
If you are using WORD you can employ the “Style” settings you see at the top of the page and use a very simple, basic numbering system. Do not put in headers and footers. Instead put all footnotes, if you require them, at the end of each Chapter.
Chapters -- Please use Chapter breaks. Do not worry too much about the name of each chapter, because that can come later, but start a numbering system to help you keep track of things.
Type your book into one, very long file and remember to back-up your document onto a Flash Drive, or CD, or a backup generator device. There is nothing sadder than the mournful, distant wailing of an author whose book has disappeared into cyberspace when their computer crashed!
Re-Write and Re-Work -- find your own routine for reworking your book. Some people prefer to write a chapter and then, go straight back to the top of the book and re-read and spiffy it up at the same time. Others prefer to keep on ploughing ahead and only look back after the manuscript has been “rested” for a week or two.
Resting the manuscript: This phrase is often code for going down the pub with friends, but resting your manuscript does have its benefits. Sometimes we get too close to what we have written and everything looks terrible - or everything looks perfect. Either extreme is usually not indicative of a good book. So take a short break and do some gardening, clean the bathroom or bake a cake and then look at your book!
When it is all written and you happily type #The End#
Submissions: If you are going to submit your manuscript to a particular Publishing House, contact them and ask what their guide lines are. Some publishers want the full manuscript plus a cover letter outlining the story/contents, while others only one a couple of chapters. Either way, do not push the envelope and send more or less than they ask for. You will usually find the guidelines somewhere on their website. If not, telephone them first to ask for the guidelines. Generally it is not a good idea to just mail them your manuscript without checking this first.
Cover Letter: Type up your cover letter and save it in a separate folder, in your Book Folder, called “Submission letters” and this will help you keep track of when and who you have sent your manuscript to!
Self Publishers: If you are submitting your manuscript to Sacred Tree Books, please send it as an attachment, on WORD via email. We can peruse it and give you a basic idea of the cost of publishing in print or as an eBook.
Print Book: If your book is to be printed as a physical paper book, make a new file on your computer called: MyBook_Print_edition. Make your file into an A5 (the usual size for a book) and turn the double-line spacing into single line spacing and remove the page numbering.
If you have elected to print via a certain publisher you may call your book: MyBook_SacredTreeBooks -- for example. Again save this in the same folder.
EBooks: Turn your manuscript into another WORD document called “My_book_ebook or if you have already chosen a publisher, you might call it: “My_Book_AmazonKindle. As before, turn it into A5, single line spacing and absolutely no page numbering!
If you keep your manuscripts clean, well labelled and free of extraneous formatting, it will process into either print or eBook formatting without a hitch and look top class. Editors do their best to remove old formatting, however, very often you cannot see the “glitches” until it has transferred into the new format. This becomes time consuming and fraught with problems, especially when hidden codes interfere with the correct font choices.
If you still find this a little overwhelming, consider taking one of our workshop specials. We will teach you everything from organizing your manuscript through to publication!
Most importantly, enjoy the process. Try not to take criticisms or advice personally and know that your book will make a difference to the world!
We offer workshops as well as manuscript analysis, please contact us for further details: