What a Manuscript Is and How to Write OneManuscript presentation makes a big difference to the way literary agents receive your work. Yes, sure, agents are looking for wonderful writing above all, so in that sense the way you format your manuscript is secondary. So lousy presentation can screw up your chances of success before your book has really given itself a chance. A writer is anyone at all who writes. An author is a writer whose work has been published. A manuscript is the text of your novel or work of nonfiction , before that text has been turned into the finished book. In the old days, when the industry still worked with paper, the manuscript was literally the stuff you printed off on your home printer.
Preparing A Book Manuscript
A manuscript is essentially the earliest draft of a book. It is the unpublished version of a book submitted to agents and editors for publication consideration. In book publishing , agents and editors will often refer to books in manuscript form, noting that the book is in the earliest stages of preparation. A book in manuscript form will always need to be edited. And, sometimes, once the editor has gone through it, it is sent back to the author for a rewrite. Either way, it will likely be sent back to you once it's been edited and proofread so you can make the requested changes. Once it is deemed to be fully ready, it is then sent to the production side of the business, where it is prepped to be printed into an actual book.
However, you should seek to do everything in your power to be a professional friend of your editor. One of the simplest ways to do that — which too many authors fail to consider — is formatting. I know. Plus, once you have the basics down, you can create a book format template for future use. While this article attempts to offer standardized recommendations, some editors, agents or publishing houses may have their own formatting stipulations.
There are many types of manuscripts, from works of fiction to scientific treatises, and even more places where you can submit a manuscript for consideration for publication. Formatting expectations vary by manuscript type, subject field, and editorial preference, but there are some generally accepted standards for fiction and non-fiction non-academic manuscript submissions, which is the focus here. By formatting your manuscript according to these general guidelines, and keeping the look clean, simple, consistent, and readable, you will improve your chances of impressing the editor who receives it. To format a manuscript, keep in mind that there's no universal manuscript format that you should use, and it's a good idea to look on a publisher's website to see what their formatting guidelines are. However, you can follow some basic guidelines, like using black point font on white paper with double spacing.
You've written a book, and now you need to figure out the manuscript format. Do yourself (and your editor!) a favor and follow this advice.
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An example of a well-formatted novel manuscript
You want to give it the best chance to become a book. A manuscript is your work of fiction or nonfiction that you submit to a publisher or agent in the hope that someone will turn it into a published book. Formatting is how your manuscript looks. This includes things like whether the lines are single- or double-spaced. What size font? What typeface?