You’ve finished your manuscript and booked your editor. But what do you need to do before you send your draft off to your editor?
A little disclaimer: This blog highlights general recommendations. Your editor may ask for other formatting, and if you’re sending it to an agent (very different than an editor), be sure to check their submission requirements first!
With that out of the way, let’s dive in!
Editors don’t expect your manuscript to be perfect when you give it to us, but it is incredibly helpful if you can clean up the most glaring mistakes first! This saves us a bit of work, and it can also help us focus on the more complex errors.
To start, read through your manuscript one final time with a critical eye. You’ll probably find some typos and awkward sentences this way. Take it slow–editing requires careful consideration! It’s meticulous work.
Second, be sure to run your spell check. Yes, it probably seems obvious, but it’s the first place to start! I’d be remiss not to mention it.
Finally, download a free self-editing guide like this one I made a couple of years ago. This will help you identify some other errors your spell check software might not catch, like erroneous punctuation and too many spaces between sentences.
Just as we don’t expect your grammar and spelling and story to be perfect, we don’t expect you formatting to be either!
That being said, you can clean up your formatting to make it easier for us to read.
In the self-editing guide I linked above, you’ll see a mention of two spaces after a sentence. While this was correct when working on typewriters, it’s unnecessary on computers. Removing those double spaced yourself saves your editor time.
I can’t speak for other editors, but I always appreciate when clients already have their manuscript set to 1.5 or 2 line spacing. And I also appreciate an easy-to-read don’t like Times New Roman or Arial. It may seem like a small change to you, but it’s very helpful when I don’t need to change a hard-to-read font to a more standard font.
Another thing I appreciate as an editor is proper page breaks. Many writers hit the “enter” key until they get to a new page. That works fine until you need to add or remove content before all of those spaces!
Instead of hitting that enter key multiple times between chapters, use what’s called a page break. This is an automatic break that starts you on a new page, and it adjusts properly when you add or delete content.
To add a page break in Microsoft Word:
At the top of the document, go to the “Insert” tab. The “Page Break” button is on the left, as shown in the image below:
To add a page break in Google Docs:
At the top of the navigate, click on the “Insert” button. Then, navigate down to “Break” and choose “Page Break,” as shown in the image below:
List of Names, Places, and Spellings
If you’re working with an editor on copy editing or proofreading, having a basic style guide from you is extremely helpful for your editor.
As an editor who works primarily on fantasy and sci-fi manuscripts, receiving a list of places and names from the author saves me time. I can usually glean the proper spelling of odd names based on the pattern the author uses.
For example, if a character’s name is always “Florenza” and suddenly I spot a “Florenzia,” I can guess that’s probably a typo. However, a list from the author with all of the names and odd spellings ahead of time can save your editor a lot of time and questions.
Sending Your Manuscript to Your Editor
As I’ve already stated, your editor doesn’t expect your manuscript to be perfect. It’s always appreciated, though, when the author has taken care to make their document more manageable and easy to work in.
Once you think your manuscript is ready to send to your editor, go ahead and send it out as you approach your scheduled “start” date for the project. And if you have anything particular you’d like your editor to look at, don’t forget to include those questions/notes in your email.
Finding an Editor
If you’re in search of an editor, check out this post I wrote (a loooong time ago) about finding a freelance editor.
If you’d like to work with me, fill out the form on my contact page! I’d love to hear from you.