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Managing Long Manuscripts

Make Your Manuscript Work For You!

A manuscript file that is more than a few pages in length can get unwieldy in a hurry. There are some things you can do in setting up your manuscript that will make your life easier, both in the writing and editing process. Consider these tips:

The goal is to help you keep track of what you’re doing and make the finished product as close to perfection as possible.

  • Set your word processor up to insert page numbers right from the beginning. Even if you plan to add running heads with page numbers, you’ll want simple page numbers when you print out drafts for editing.
  • Make use of the heading styles that will also create an actual Table of contents. I find I generate a table of contents fairly often in the writing process – it helps me know where I am and what I need to do next.
  • Although most word processing programs have some sort of book marking system, I find a simple xxx works best for me. When I finish a writing session I add the triple xxx, and then when I come back, I do a quick search and I’m right where I want to be in the next session.
  • If you’re going to have an index, you can start marking the words you want indexed right from the start.

I find it easier to write the book all in one file; if you want to separate files for, maybe, each chapter, develop a file naming procedure that will let you concatenate the book easily.

Graphics & Links in Manuscripts

If your book has lots of illustrations, you'll probably need page layout software to place them exactly. Of course, if you have a publisher, you can leave that to them, just marking where each graphic goes.

If you're self-publishing and have only a few graphics, your word processing software may be able to handle it. I've done it and it can become a nightmare. The best tip I can give you is keep multiple backups... backing up to two or more files every single time you add a drawing or picture.

eBooks, and edocs let you include live links as well as graphics. You can have a fully illustrated eBook that, if it were a trade book would simply too expensive to produce. You simply insert the drawing, photo or illustrations in your manuscript and when you convert, your pictures are there, in all their glorious color.

The problem with illustrations is they can make your final file huge. You can mitigate this by using compression on your downloadable file, but keep file size in mind and make sure there is a real reason for every graphic.

Word, frankly, doesn’t do a great job with graphics… the file tends to blow up when it gets too large. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell what “too large” actually means. In truth, if you want a long manuscript with a lot of graphics, you need some sort of type setting or page layout software.

If you’re going to include  illustrations of one sort or another, you’ll also need to know how to use some sort of image editing program. Expect too, to spend some serious time placing the graphics exactly where you want them. It’s a fiddly process, but worth doing when the graphics serve a purpose.

I use PhotoImpact 10. It’s relatively inexpensive, has enough bells and whistles to handle eBooks, and eBook covers. It can generate graphics for print and makes web graphics a snap.

Write well and often. 


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Email Anne: Anne@AboutFreelanceWriting.com

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