Manuscript Preparation GuideYou’ve 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. This guide will walk you through the manuscript submission process.
Determining the best book sizeYou should begin the manuscript submission process by choosing the book size you’d like for your manuscript. Publishing Spot offers several book sizes:
- 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”
Submitting electronic filesSubmitting an electronic copy: Many authors choose to submit their manuscript as a file from a word processor or page layout program. A book designer at Publishing Spot can quickly import the text of your manuscript from these file types and begin the work of designing your book. We prefer you to submit your work either in a Microsoft® Word file or an Adobe® InDesign file. If your manuscript was composed 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’d feel more comfortable having us handle the conversion, we can also accept these files:
- Corel® Word Perfect
- Microsoft® Works
- Lotus® Notes or Lotus Manuscript
- Rich Text Format (RTF) documents
- Apple® Works
- ASCII text documents
- Word Pro
- Adobe® PageMaker
- Adobe® PDF
- Quark® Express
- OCR documents set in Text format
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.
Fonts: Publishing Spot 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 Publishing Spot 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 Publishing Spot 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 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 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 by Publishing Spot. 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: 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. Often times 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 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.
Conversion Errors: At Publishing Spot, 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, in some cases, 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 if you submit your manuscript in a file format that must InDesign® file.
Languages: Publishing Spot accepts manuscripts written in English and Spanish languages only.
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 Publishing Spot designers cannot edit these files beyond adding or removing pages (such as adding the title page and copyright page).Because Publishing Spot designers cannot edit the content 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 will be print-ready for publishing.
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 do not embed fonts correctly.
- Margins: The most important formatting concern to be aware of when creating your PDF is properly setting the margins. Follow these instructions carefully.
- For black and white, make sure the paper size is set to “Standard” or 8.5”x11”. This option can be found in most word processors under “File,” “Page Setup,” in the tab for “Paper Size.” Once you have selected the proper size, click “OK.”
- Reset the margins to match your book size. In Microsoft Word, select the “File” button at the top of the toolbar, select “Page Setup,” and choose the “Margins” tab. You should see several boxes to enter the margin values. Use the charts below to find the correct margins for your book size. Make sure the gutter position is set to left, and ensure that the box labeled “Apply To” is set to “Whole Document.” Click on the “OK” button and make sure to save your work before continuing.
Creating the PDF: From your source file (Quark, PageMaker, Microsoft Word, etc.) select “Print” and choose “Acrobat Distiller” as your printer.
The exact printing options dialog box will vary from program to program. Make sure to select the following
- 1. Embed all fonts. If the fonts are not correctly embedded in the file, the text will fail to print. In some versions of Acrobat there is a setting marked “Do not send fonts to Adobe PDF.” Make sure that this option is turned off or the fonts will not be embedded in the PDF.
- 2. Select the option to include blank pages.
- 3. Do not select any option that creates page spreads (i.e. a 2-page layout), or any option that would place crop marks on the page.
- Verifying the PDF file: After the PDF is created, you’ll need to verify that the fonts are embedded. Select the “File” menu, “Document Info,” and then “Fonts.” When the font info window appears, click the button labeled “List All Fonts.” Each font listed should have “Embedded Subset” listed after it.
- After checking the fonts, print a few test pages. Pages with graphics and full text are good samples to test. Make sure your printer is NOT set to the “Fit To Page” option, or your margins will be incorrect on your test pages.
- To ensure that your margins are set correctly, measure the space from the edge of the paper to the outer edge of the printed text. Your measurements should be to the same as the margins you set during the first phase of creating the PDF.
- If the fonts are embedded and the margins are equal to or greater than the listed requirement, you are finished and the file is ready to submit. If the margins are not correct or the fonts are not embedded, review your work and make adjustments.
- Once we receive your PDF file, your Check-in Coordinator will review the file to ensure 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.
Sending an electronic manuscript to Publishing Spot. You can send your manuscript in through e-mail as an attachment. For other methods, please Contact your Check-in Coordinator.
Submitting Hard Copies
Printed copies of a manuscript may be mailed to Publishing Spot and converted into an electronic format for a fee. This is called “Data Entry.” If you request a hard copy of manuscript be data entered, a typist will type the information word for word. Images in the manuscript are not scanned and tables are not formatted. This process can take up to 2 months. Once your manuscript is in electronic format, it is then sent on to your Design Team for production. To avoid this delay, submit your manuscript as an electronic file.
Copyediting is not included in Publishing Spot’s standard publishing package. All Publishing Spot copyeditors work in Microsoft® Word. 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. Publishing Spot 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 must have access to Word to review editor’s suggestions.
What is the best way to submit my manuscript?
We prefer to receive your manuscript as an electronic file. Submitting your manuscript as a Microsoft® Word or Adobe® InDesign® is best. For other formats and methods, please contact your Check-in Coordinator
Can I submit a hard copy of my manuscript?
We can accept a hard copy of your manuscript, but it will require additional time and fees to convert into electronic form. If you decide to submit a hard copy we will data enter, or type up, the entire document. This process can take up to two months and is offered at a per-page cost.
What is a hard return?
A hard return is the result of pressing the “enter” button on your keyboard and appears as the symbol in word processors. It is used to signify the end of one paragraph and beginning of another. When a hard return is used at the end of a line that is not also the end of a paragraph (as was required by typewriters), the paragraphs appear broken when the page margins change.
Will my book look exactly like my submitted manuscript?
When you submit your file in an 8.5” by 11” page size, the standard margins will need to be adjusted to fit your chosen book size. When the margins are shifted, less room will be available on each page and your overall page count will likely increase. If you have edited and designed the manuscript yourself and would like your book to reflect your exact manuscript, you can submit your book as a printready PDF file.
Can I submit a “print-ready” manuscript?
Publishing Spot does accept print-ready PDF files, and will only add new pages such as the title and copyright pages when necessary. To properly submit a print-ready PDF file, follow the requirements detailed in this guide.
What happens after my manuscript is submitted?
Once we receive your manuscript, we will review your work to ensure the file format is acceptable and there are no other submission issues. You will be contacted by your Publishing Services Associate to discuss the next steps in the process.
Marketing Text Guidelines for Submission
Tips to write your About the Book, About the Author, Marketing Headline, and keywords Paperback Back Cover Copy/About the Book The Back Cover Copy is a brief overview of the book that entices the reader to browse and purchase the book. The ideal length is 150 to 200 words, but it must be at least a paragraph (three or four sentences) long. Think of this copy as a movie trailer or commercial—provide highlights, tease your audience, but don't give away the ending! This should not be a detailed, straightforward description of the book, but rather brief, pointed selling copy to interest the reader. The back cover text for nonfiction should state what your book is about, how it's unique, and why a potential reader should buy it. The back cover text for fiction should state the setting and main characters of your book and something about the major conflict they face. In all marketing copy (back cover copy, author bio, and keynote), the following guidelines apply:
- Refer to the book as "the book." Instead, use the book title, set in italics, in most cases.
- Underline words or use all caps. Instead, let the text speak for itself.
- Refer to your audience as "the reader" or "readers." Instead, write the copy in a manner that incites the reader to take action. For example, instead of "Readers will learn how to improve relationships with their pets," write, "Learn how to improve your relationships with your pets."
- Write the copy in first person (I, me, my). Instead, use third person (he, she, they) and refer to yourself by name, preceded with author. Example: Author Joe Smith tells the harrowing story of his trip to the grocery store.
- Break up the back cover copy into paragraphs. One long paragraph is very difficult to read.
- Use bulleted lists help to tell the reader what’s included in the book at a glance, if your book is nonfiction.
- Make sure your bulleted lists use parallel construction for each item in the list
- Create ...
- Learn ...
- Motivate ...
- Create ...
- Learning ...
- Motivation ...
- Avoid clichés such as "a must-read" or "This book will change your life." The back cover copy is not a book review. It is a preview of the exciting world within.
- Keep the tense of your language consistent throughout.
- Make sure last paragraph of the copy is compelling the reader to take action; it's the take-away promise of the book. (This is important for nonfiction.)
- Include advance praise, if it's from a notable source (quotes from people well known in the field are good; quotes from your next door neighbor are not as useful).
- For advance praise, include short excerpts with a credit line of the person who gave you the endorsement. Rather than just a name, provide the person's title or credentials as well; for example, for a book on speed walking you could list a quote from Cathy Smith, President, Northern California Speed Walking Association. It's best to use endorsements from people or periodicals that relate to your book in some way.
If you need additional examples or ideas, look up books that compare and compete with your title and read the book descriptions on Barnes&Noble.com (bn.com). Better yet, go to your local bookstore and browse the section in which your book would ideally be shelved. Read the professionally created back cover copy of the bestselling titles in that genre; this will give you an idea of what readers will expect to see on your back cover.
Author Biography/About the Author
The Author Biography should be no more than fifty words and should consist of the following elements:
A few statements that communicate why you are qualified to write the book, usually indicating your professional background or education. Are you an expert in this field? What unique insights or experience do you have that give your book credibility? For example, "Jane Smith is the founder and president of C-Cat, the leading online magazine for ceramic-cat collectors in the United States."
A statement that moves from the qualifications above to something more personal. For example, "Her collection of ceramic cats now numbers more than 5,000." This personal information should relate to the book in some way.
Where you live and something about your personal life. You don't need to be specific; your listing can be as general as the state you live in, although the city is also preferred (consumers often lean toward buying books by local authors). For example, "Smith lives with her husband, her three children, and her three real cats in Lincoln, Nebraska."
Another way of formatting the biography would be to list the following information: education, current career, other publications, family information, and regional interest (e.g., city and state of residence).
Joe Author is the author of numerous award-winning plays for audio and stage. He spends his days as editorial manager at the world's largest print-on-demand publishing company. Additionally, he is artistic director of Mind's Ear Audio Productions, and also writes for the newspaper in his hometown of Bloomington, Indiana.
Joe Author, currently a basket-weaving technician, has a bachelor's degree in basket weaving from Any University. He has previously published two other books, Baskets and You and Weave Your Way to Success. He and his wife, Mary, have four children and live in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Marketing Headline/Keynote Statement
The Marketing Headline (keynote) or "elevator pitch" should consist of one or two sentences (twenty-five word-count limit) that succinctly tell readers what the book is about and why they should buy it.
Imagine you have only ten seconds to tell someone about your book and convince him to buy it. What would you say? Be sure to avoid clichés.
A novel of suspense, wry humor, and the paranormal, as two relative strangers take a cross-country road trip to save others in peril.
This crafting handbook offers the newest and most innovative techniques in basket weaving and basket technology.
Keywords will help people find your title through retail outlets.
When you go to the library and search the library database by subject, or when you enter words and topics in a search engine such as Google, you are using keywords. Keywords for a romance title might be: love, betrayal, romance, love affair, paramour, Paris, and the type of romance (i.e., gothic, regency, contemporary, historical). There is no minimum number of words required, but the more words or phrases you provide that have a direct relation to the subject matter, the more opportunity people will have to find your book.
Walking Through An Online Submission
You should now see the Login page shown here.
If you have already registered, enter your e-mail address and password, then click Log In
If you haven’t already registered, click on the Create an Account link to set up your profile.
In order to get complete and accurate information, please create only one account per author using the e-mail you have provided to us.
Starting the submission
To begin the online submission process, click the Submit Materials link under the My Messages heading.
This page will populate with all the information that we currently have on file. Please update it if necessary and press the update button to save it in our system. Once it is correct press Continue to proceed to the next page.
At the bottom of the page, you will need to fill in where you want your biography to show. The most common option is to have it on the back cover and Web site.
Key book information
Here, you’ll provide the basic information about your book including Title, Subtitle (if you choose to use one), and Pen Name. The Pen Name is how the Author’s name is listed on the front cover of the book.
In this step, you’ll select your book’s binding size as well as paper color.
- Please keep in mind that hardcover books are available in only one size 6” x 9”, so if you have both softcover and hardcover format, you will need to choose 6x9 for both.
Enter the original year of copyright (For new manuscripts, enter the current year).
Front cover ideaProvide us with information about how you want your book cover to look. Publishing Spot creates its book covers using a large stock photography library. For instance, if you want a Union Soldier from the Civil War on your cover, we will likely be able to accommodate that request. If you want a Union Soldier with blonde hair, a beard, and a musket on his shoulder, we may struggle to find an appropriate image.
Back cover elementsThe About the Book is limited to 200 words. Take a look at some of your favorite books to get some ideas. It is important to input this information carefully because it will appear on your book and will be among the first things a reader sees. This is not a good place for a typo.
Hardcover book details
If you have a hard cover version with your package, this is where you will let us know what you would like on the back cover of your hard cover version. If you have chosen the dust jacket hard cover option for your hard cover on the Book Format page, please provide us with your text for the Front Flap and Back Flap Text space on your cover as well.
Marketing informationThe information that you enter here is just as important as any part of your book. These statements should hook the reader and encourage them to keep reading. The Marketing Headline is a 25-word statement that summarizes your book.
Audience level and book genre
Please provide us with some general information about your book including Audience Level, or the Target Audience, and Book Genre. The book genre will help group your book with other books on similar topics.
Uploading your manuscript
On this page, you will be submitting your manuscript. You will not be able to move beyond this point to upload other items for your book until you upload your manuscript. Follow the instructions on this page to complete the submission of your manuscript.
When you continue on from this page, the “Submit Materials” link on the Author Center dashboard will close. You can continue on to the next steps during this session but will be unable to access the online submission from the dashboard after you navigate away from the Upload Manuscript page. If you need to provide us with updated information after the “Submit Materials” link is gone, you can e-mail your Check-in-Coordinator and they will take care of it for you.
Once you have successfully uploaded your manuscript, the name of the file that was uploaded will appear.
Upload book cover images
If you have any images that you want on the front of your book, please upload them here. You can also upload any front cover mock-up ideas that you may have
Upload book interior graphics
Please upload any interior images that you have for your book.
Upload author photograph
If you want to use an author photo, please upload it here. Make sure that it is 300dpi and at least 2x2 in size.
This timeline is approximate and does not include editorial, illustration or special design services that will require additional time to complete. We will do our best to avoid any delays. If a delay should occur, we will inform you of the issue as soon as possible. Likewise, if you need additional time to complete a task, please let us know.
Step 1: Sign up to publish
Step 2: Submit materials
Introductory call (1-2 business days of signing the publishing agreement): Your check-in coordinator (CIC) will contact you to discuss what we need to publish your book and how you can submit that material to us.
Provide book information and upload manuscript: You can use our online submission tool to provide the information and files we need to begin the publishing process.
Content evaluation (5-10 business days): We will review the content of your manuscript to ensure it meets the standards outlined in our publishing agreement.
Review of supplied materials (up to 5 business days): Your CIC will ensure that your files are ready for layout and design.
Step 3: Layout and Design
During this step you will be assigned a publishing services associate to help you.
Prepare for design work (3-5 business days): Your PSA will prepare your materials for the designers to start their work creating your book.
Cover and book interior design (2-3 weeks): The designers on your team will create the first proofs of the cover design and interior layout for your book.
Design quality assurance check (2 business days): Your PSA will review the designers’ work to ensure you receive the highest quality proofs that reflect your requests.
Proofs provided for your review: After receiving the design work, your PSA will send you your first set of proofs to review. At this time, you can approve the design or request revisions. Please review the proofs thoroughly to ensure your satisfaction. If you need to make changes, your publishing package includes one set of changes to the cover. After reviewing your first proof, you may also make up to 25 author changes to the interior layout in your first round of revisions. Formatting changes to the interior will be completed at no cost. You can request one round of revisions to the cover as part of your package.
Step 4: Proof revisions
Submit interior revisions: If you need to make changes to the interior, you can submit your changes to your PSA using our interior revision form.
Interior revisions (7-10 business days): Your book’s interior designer will implement the changes you sent to your PSA on the revision form.
Interior revision quality assurance check (2 business days): Your PSA will review the designer’s work to ensure your revisions were properly completed.
Proofs provided for your review: After reviewing the revised work, your PSA will send you your revised proofs to review. Once you are satisfied with your proofs, you will provide your approval to your PSA.
Submit cover revisions: Your book’s cover designer will implement the changes you sent to your PSA using our cover revision form.
Cover revisions (7-10 business days): Your book’s cover designer will implement the changes you sent to your PSA on the revision form.
Cover revision quality assurance check (2 business days): Your PSA will review the designer’s work to ensure your revisions were properly completed.
Proofs provided for your review: After reviewing the revised work, your PSA will send you your revised proofs to review. Once you are satisfied with your proofs, you will provide your approval to your PSA.
Step 5: Sent to Print
Approval of cover and book interior: After the approval for your interior and cover are received, the process of sending your book to the printer can begin.
Final quality assurance (1-2 business days): The design team will perform a final quality check to ensure that everything is in the proper format for our print partners.
Printer processing (5-7 business days): Your PSA will submit your files to our print partners, and it will be processed by them. Once the printer set up is complete, your book will be made live and available for purchase.
Printer copy (7-10 business days): Your first copy will be printed and shipped to you.
Step 6: Promote book
Your Marketing Services Representative will contact you regarding any promotional materials included in your package. If you would like to discuss additional promotional services, you can contact your marketing consultant.