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Simple Tips for Preparing Your Manuscript for Your Book Designer

So you’ve written your book, had it professionally edited, and chosen your book designer. All you have to do is send the manuscript over. Well, yes, but you will save time and money by taking these few steps to make sure your designer understands how you want it to look.


The good news is you don’t have to make your manuscript look nice by choosing the right font, size, line spacing, or even inserting page breaks between chapters. That’s what your designer’s expertise is for. They will choose these styles and format them according to the agreed-upon design.


That said, you do need to somehow distinguish between chapter titles, main headings, and levels of subheadings so the designer can see the flow of the manuscript. You can do this using the default styles in your software or just use descending font sizes and bold or italic fonts. Just be consistent. You don’t have to like the look of the fonts or colors; the purpose is just to make the hierarchy clear to the designer.


Include your Table of Contents in your manuscript, but don’t take the time to insert the page numbers. It is just a guide to tell the designer what to include. For example, you may want only the chapter titles, or you may also want to include subsections within the chapters.


Avoid overusing bold and italic type for emphasis within paragraph text. As a writer, the words you choose should be enough to convey the importance of certain points. Bold fonts, or worse, all caps, scattered here and there throughout the pages are distracting to the overall flow of the book.


Any photos or illustrations in your book should be supplied as separate files and not placed in the manuscript document. Indicate where they appear by using brackets, and refer to the image by file name, i.e. “[Insert Image 1.jpg].” Discuss with your designer what resolution and file format they require. If your images have captions, include them above or below the file name notes. Use a consistent font and size so the designer can tell the captions from the main body of text.


Remove any tracked changes or “comments” in the document of communications between you and your editor. If notes are necessary to communicate to the designer, place them between brackets, like “[begin sidebar]” and “[end sidebar].” Consistency is the key to avoiding misunderstandings.


The most important thing is to make sure it has been edited and proofread before handing the manuscript over to the designer for formatting. Once the book is formatted, seemingly simple word changes can cause pages to break differently, which affects all subsequent pages, and it can be costly in terms of time and money. Your final manuscript should be as perfect as can be before formatting begins.


The best thing you can do is to ask your designer for what they would like to see in the final manuscript. But if you follow these simple recommendations, your designer will have what they need to format your book as you intend. It will avoid misunderstandings and cut back on revisions, so the process is as seamless as possible.

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