Formatting Your Manuscript for Submission
You have been working on your manuscript for a while now. You’re done writing; you’ve made your last edits and put the finishing touches on your work. Now you’re ready to submit your manuscript and finally transfer the work from your desk to ours. Only one question remains: What is the best way to format my manuscript for submission to AuthorHouse?
At AuthorHouse, we’ve worked with authors of all backgrounds, and we can accept manuscripts in a number of ways. Your first decision is whether to submit your manuscript as an electronic copy or a printed hard copy. Because we do all of our work on a digital platform, we prefer to receive your manuscript in electronic form. If you have typed your manuscript in any computer word processing program, electronic submission is the easiest option, and will save time in the mail as well as eliminate costs.
When you submit an electronic document, we prefer you save your work as a Microsoft® Word file or an Adobe® InDesign® 2, CS, or CS2 file. If composed your manuscript in another word processor, you can convert the file to Microsoft Word yourself. This way, you can review the document and check for conversion errors, which can appear when a document is transferred from one program to another. If you would feel more comfortable having us handle the conversion, we can also accept any number of word processor files.
No two computers display information exactly the same. To help ensure our designers view your manuscript the way you intend it to appear, keep an eye out for the following formatting concerns:
Multiple files: When we receive multiple word processing documents for a single project, we need to put all of these together into one single file. To avoid this issue, submit your manuscript as one complete file, with all content for your book saved in the order you would like it to appear.
Fonts: AuthorHouse has a library of more than 300 fonts, including the most popular fonts used in publishing today. Your can format your document in any font you’d like; when you speak to your book designer on your design conference call, you can discuss and choose the final font for your book. You can request a copy of the complete AuthorHouse font list by contacting Author Assistance or by download from the Author Center.
Hard returns: A “hard return” is also known as the “enter” or “return” command on your keyboard. It is most commonly used to separate paragraphs within a document. In Microsoft Word, and many other word processing programs, it will display as the “¶” character when hidden characters are displayed. To see this symbol, click on the “¶” button on the standard toolbar, which will also display other “hidden characters” such as tab markers and spaces.
A common misuse of the “hard return” is to place it at the end of a single line of text in order to break the text on to the next line, similar to the operation of a typewriter. This can cause “bad paragraph breaks” within a document, making it difficult to determine where your paragraphs begin and end. Manuscripts that incorrectly use “hard returns” at the end of every line will not render properly, and may not be usable by AuthorHouse. To avoid this issue, begin a new paragraph and continue typing until the paragraph is complete, allowing your program to break the lines automatically.
Manual headers & page numbers: Some authors manually type their name, the name of the book, the page number, or any combination of these at the top or the bottom of each page. This usually happens when the author is unaware of the word processor’s header/footer function, which automatically places this information at the top or bottom of every page. Manual page numbers and headers create similar issues to using the enter key at the end of every line, and removing them can be difficult and time-consuming. To avoid this issue, use automatic page numbering and include other information in a header or footer, which we can easily remove from the document before formatting.
Margins: Margins are the white space that surrounds text on a page, including headers and footers, as well as the “gutter” space for the book’s spine. When we convert a manuscript from an 8.5” x 11” size Word document into a different size, such as 6” x 9”, the margins can change drastically. Oftentimes, the new margins will cause text to shift or lines to break differently from the original manuscript.
Your book designer can compensate for these changes and give you an estimate of your book’s final page count. If you know your book size in advance, an author assistant can provide the margins for the new page size. You can then set up your document with new margins to reflect how your book will look, although some small changes in exact margin size will still occur. To avoid a problem with this issue, be aware that your manuscript margins will shift between your manuscript and final book.
Adobe PDFs: Many authors submit their work electronically as an Adobe PDF file when they have completed the editing, layout, and design themselves. Keep in mind that AuthorHouse designers cannot edit these files beyond adding or removing pages (such as adding the title page and copyright page). Because AuthorHouse designers cannot edit the content of a PDF file, you will need to follow our guidelines when formatting and distilling your PDF file.
It’s a noteworthy accomplishment when you complete work on your manuscript. By following these guidelines for formatting your manuscript, you can ensure a smooth handoff to AuthorHouse, knowing you are one step closer to getting your voice in print.