How to prepare your manuscript for a book editor

Preparing a manuscript for an editor can seem daunting, but it’s easy to do once you understand the basics. Here are six things to keep in mind while preparing:

Putting everything in one file.

I have never had this one, but I’ve heard from other editors how authors will send their work in one chapter at a time. One big file is much easier for an editor, especially since we love to check for consistency.

We have programs designed to find if you spelled a character’s name three different times. We can also check for double spaces, if you spelled the same word two correct but different ways (ex: copyediting or copy editing), and more. It’s much easier for us to find those inconsistencies if it’s all in one file.

Picking the type of file.

Most editors use Microsoft Word since it has great add-in programs like PerfectIt. Those programs help editors do their job quicker and more efficiently. So, having your novel in Microsoft Word is recommended.

Some editors will use other programs like Google Docs, but I’ve found that rare. It’s always good to discuss this ahead of time if you don’t want to use Microsoft Word.

Setting the page size.

The best page size is the US letter 8.5″ x 11″ with margins set to one inch on every side. 

Choosing a font.

Most of the time, Times New Roman is the safest bet to go with. Serif fonts in general (fonts with small lines at the end) are the easiest to read. They help since the letters are more pronounced.

The easier your words are to read, the better your editor can edit.

Formatting paragraphs.

There are two steps with this.

One — Make sure all paragraphs are double spaced (except for poetry). With edits, it can get cloudy and messy. It’s easier for everything to be double spaced and spread out.

Two — Use the tab key for your paragraph indentions. This makes sure everything is uniform. It also helps with editing programs, which delete any accidental spaces before and after paragraphs. If the paragraphs aren’t tabbed, the programs will delete all the spaces, and the paragraphs will be hard to distinguish between.

Designing page proofs.

It is recommended to not design the pages before editing. Editing can get messy with thousands of comments, inserts, deletions, etc., especially during the copyediting stage. The nice design won’t look the same when you get it back. Editors try their best to keep the style, but it’s difficult.

However, for proofreading only, having your book designed is the best way to go. Proofreaders catch if the design is off in a spot, if a paragraph isn’t indented when it should be, etc. It’s part of their job to be the last set of eyes to make sure your book has no glaring errors.

Now, at the end of the day, it’s not a huge deal if you send the file over and miss something. Like if you forgot to double space your work, it’s easy for me to press command + A and select double space. So, if you forget something, it’ll be okay.

I do recommend trying to follow this format though to look professional and to save the editor some time. You can also do a few extra things like adding page numbers and putting a cover page with your book title and your name. I’ve seen many sites recommend different formatting ways for this. But for me, this isn’t as essential. Other editors may have their own preferences though.

Hope this helps! If you have a question, leave a comment down below.


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