Preparing Your Manuscript For Print Publication

The first thing to do, of course, is to complete your manuscript in the standard draft format: 12 point courier, 1/4" indent, left justified, double spaced, 1" border. This format is still necessary, as it is the standard method of determining word count: each line, including blank lines, equals 10 words. Be sure you are happy with your MS before starting, since if you need to make changes later, you'll have to do this all over again.

From there, pull a copy of the MS, and resize it to the finished book size. Generally for POD, this will be Trade Paperback - 6" wide by 9" tall, allowing a minimum 5/8" margin on all sides. You can find the paper size adjustment in your printer preferences under Page Setup. You may have to use the Custom size feature. Make sure of the size requirements your POD printer wants to use, as they are pretty inflexible about nonstandard formats.

We recently discovered that CreateSpace (Amazon) has restructured their type body upload specification, requiring authors to use a two page spread format offset with an additional 1/4" to the gutter. This can be set up in the original MS with your word processor formatting.

Be sure to remove all images, footnotes, etc., as these will mess up the translated file. You will have to reestablish these later in the formatting process. Page numbers can be included in a footer for the print version, but will have to come out for the download conversions later.

Now convert the MS to print ready format: Times New Roman, fully justified, single spaced, with a minimum of 1/4" first line indent (3/8" is better). Once you have done this, reinsert your images and footnotes to be sure they are properly placed and sized.

When you have finished the size and font conversion, go through the converted MS to adjust lines as desired to make the word structure come out as even to the page as possible. Add or subtract words, put in or remove a line or two, adjust your font styles, sizes, alignments, and indents as desired to avoid having the last word of a sentence run onto the next line, or the end of the chapter dangling onto the next page. As a rule of thumb, make the body text 12 point, and title headers 16 point. If you have passages in italics, such as a flashback or dream sequence, indent them slightly to make them more distinct.

After you have completed this process, you will have your final finished MS. You might want to return the edited material to the original chapters and Courier format to update your word count.

Macintosh OS (and some versions of Word) will export the finished MS directly to PDF, which is the standard format used for POD printing.


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