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Preparing Your Manuscript for Submission

What is manuscript submission? If you were going the traditional route, it would mean not just formatting your manuscript professionally but also creating a longlist and shortlist of agents and publishers, writing personalized letters, and reaching out to all of your prospective takers.

With AuthorHouse, you don’t have to look for answers to questions like “How do you write a cover letter for manuscript submission?” or “Who is most likely to publish a book like mine?” or “When will someone get back to me with a ‘yes’?”

All you have to think about is meeting our formatting requirements so that your book turns out the way you envision it. Read on for a comprehensive guide to submitting your manuscript to AuthorHouse.

prepare manuscript for submission

How do you prepare a manuscript for submission?

First of all, make sure that your manuscript has gone through all the editing stages. Copyediting is not included in AuthorHouse’s standard publishing package, so if you elect to have your manuscript copyedited, you’ll need to submit your manuscript as a Microsoft® Word file or an acceptable format that can be converted.

AuthorHouse will use reasonable efforts to see that your edited manuscript is returned within 45-60 business days of the submission of all materials and payments. You should also have access to Word to review your editor’s suggestions.

Browse our editorial services here.

After proofing your manuscript, you can truly begin the manuscript submission process by determining the book size you’d like for your manuscript. AuthorHouse offers several book sizes, each of which has a minimum and maximum page count based on printing requirements:

  • Black and white books can be formatted as 5” x 8”, 6”x 9”, or 8.25” x 11”
  • Color books can be formatted as either 8.5” x 8.5” or 8.5” x 11”

If you’re not sure what book size would best suit your work, spend some time at your local bookstore and identify the sizes of other books in your genre. You can also search books on Amazon and look for book dimensions under Product Details.

what is proper manuscript format

What is proper manuscript format?

Once you’ve chosen your book size and adjusted your document accordingly, ensure that our designers view your manuscript the way it is intended to appear by keeping an eye out for these 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. We offer this merging service for $5.00 per file. To avoid this issue, submit your manuscript as one complete file.


AuthorHouse has a library of over 300 fonts, including the most popular fonts used in publishing today. If your manuscript uses a font that is not on the AuthorHouse font list, you can speak with your Check-in Coordinator to choose another viable option. To avoid this issue, request a copy of the complete AuthorHouse font list from your Check-in Coordinator.

Hard returns

A “hard return” is also known as the “enter” or “return” command on your keyboard. It’s 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 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 begin the text on the next line. 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” may incur extra production fees, or may not be usable at all. 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

Occasionally an author manually types his/her 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 their 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 hitting 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 numbers and include other information in a header or footer, which can easily be removed from the document before formatting.


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 a manuscript is converted from an 8.5” x 11” size 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.

If you know your book size, your Check-in Coordinator can provide the margins for the new page size. You can then set up your document with new margins to more accurately 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.

converting file errors

Conversion errors

At AuthorHouse, we receive manuscripts in a range of different formats. When converting these files into a file type that is usable by our production team, the process can cause “conversion errors” within the document. Some examples of these errors are shifting characters, section breaks added to a document, and broken paragraphs. Generally, most conversion errors can be fixed with a global replacement of one type or another, but you should be aware of the possibility of these errors occurring.

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 contents of a PDF file, you’ll need to follow very strict guidelines when formatting and distilling your PDF file. The following instructions will ensure that your file is print-ready.

  • PDF Requirements

There are several programs that create PDF documents. We recommend using Adobe PS Acrobat Distiller Printer 4.0 or later, which is standard with Adobe Acrobat. We recommend against using PDF Writer or any “built in” PDF creator because these programs often don’t embed fonts correctly.

  • Margins

Once we receive your PDF file, your Check-in Coordinator will review the file to ensure that it meets our requirements. If your PDF does not meet these requirements, the Check-in Coordinator can help troubleshoot the document and advise you on how to proceed.