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Preparing manuscripts

Help for writers

Some advice on preparing manuscripts

It's important to present your manuscript properly, as it's very off-putting if you submit something which looks a mess. So, whether you're thinking about submission, or not yet at that stage, bear in mind the following guidelines.

If you're considering sending it us for a service, some of our fees will depend on the state of your manuscript.  It makes more work for the copy editor if you have not checked your work carefully, so our quote will be higher.  To keep the cost as low as possible, check the following points before sending your manuscript to us:

  1. Read the manuscript carefully to supply missing or, more often, eliminate surplus, words.
  2. If you have problems spotting your own errors, or know this is not your strong point, ask a friend or family member to read it and check for the obvious errors.
  3. Use your spellchecker to eliminate as many spelling mistakes as possible - but check carefully or the computer will introduce correctly spelt but  wrong words. 
  4. Make sure the latest batch of corrections have been incorporated into the typescript.
  5. There is no harm in doing some early copy editing - make sure all the names are written consistently.
  6. Make sure that your manuscript is clearly marked with the title and your name. Make sure it is paginated - the computer can put page numbers, chapter headings and your name on each page as headings and footings. 

It is best to do each check in sequence. For most people, it does not work if you try to check for spelling, flow and sense all at the same time.

It might take several reads but the presentation of your work will improve - but stop before you get stale or decide to start on another rewrite!

Other things to check

© Chris HolifieldManaging director of WritersServices; spent working life in publishing,employed by everything from global corporations to start-ups; track record includes: editorial director of Sphere Books, publishing director of The Bodley Head, publishing director for start-up of upmarket book club, The Softback Preview, editorial director of Britain’s biggest book club group, BCA, and, most recently, deputy MD and publisher of Cassell & Co. She is also currently the Director of the Poetry Book Society; During all of this time aware of problems faced by writers, as publishing changed from idiosyncratic cottage industry, 'occupation for gentlemen', into corporate business of today. Writers encountered increasing difficulty in getting books edited or published. Authors create the books which are the raw material for the whole business. She believes it is time to bring them back to centre stage. 2003