The book publishing process, despite its romantic underpinnings and great aspirations, is also a production process—one involving design, formatting, printing, shipping, warehousing, and a number of other lesser known (but very important) procedures. Of these, formatting a manuscript for publication is often the most confusing part for our authors and clients.
To preface, there are many book “publishing” services that are essentially printing services. They operate as “publishers” but will ask that you format your manuscript as a PDF and design your cover and interior pages. They will print and bind your book, but you will be doing the hard work of putting together a professional-looking book that reflects the integrity of your work.
Orange Frazer Press, however, is a full-service publisher, in that we cover everything from page formatting, design, and e-book conversion to warehousing, shipping, and order fulfilling. Because services like ours are a bit more detailed (and thus a bit rarer in today’s industry), we are sometimes faced with manuscripts that are already designed by the client, which, surprisingly, makes our work more difficult. Sounds counterintuitive, right?
Here’s why. As a professional book publishing service, we use a variety of design tools and programs to make sure that images are sharp and print-ready, pages are correctly formatted and designed, and covers are compelling and elegant. Some clients format and design their own pages before even reaching out to publishers, and by the time we receive their manuscripts, we are actually faced with the prospect of undoing many of their (labor-intensive) hours of formatting work. This is a truly heartbreaking process (believe me—telling a client that you have to remove several hundred inserted photos in a Word document is painful for all parties involved). We could print your book as is from a PDF, but we really care about the quality of your work, and we want it to look as professional as possible.
To save our clients time and energy, and to make the production process more efficient (thus saving our clients money along the way—less time spent reformatting means less money put into the production process), we have put together a pre-production guide for getting your manuscript ready for publication.
- Create your manuscript in a Word document. For better or worse, Microsoft Word is the industry standard for word processing and is the most easily transferrable to other programs. If you don’t have Microsoft Word, you can also use Wordpad (for a PC) or Textedit (for a Mac). Wordpad and Textedit are stripped down word processing programs, and they are both free and easy to use. Using Word Perfect, Microsoft Works, or other Word alternatives can actually make the formatting more difficult for both you and our production team.
- Save your file as .rtf (rich text format). Rich text format is the only way (aside from a PDF) to truly preserve any underlined, italicized, or bolded words and phrases. And it is easily transferrable for us.
- Keep all image files and text files in separate folders. When it comes time to insert your images into the manuscript, we will sit down and go through placements with you, and you will have the opportunity to approve or nix each one individually. Microsoft Word was not built to correctly place and align images for books, and images inserted into these documents will negatively affect text wrapping, margins, and image resolution. By properly labeling your images (not by page number, as page numbers will likely change when we transfer over your manuscript and determine the paper size) and keeping all images in separate files, we can very easily format and insert each one individually.
- Allow us to design the cover, if at all possible. We have spent twenty-six years designing covers that will stand out on shelves, in sell sheets, and as Amazon icons. We have a design team that makes each book a unique reflection of its client and story, and we check with our clients to make sure that the cover is what they envisioned for the book.
If you have any questions about these or other factors as your prepare your manuscript for publication with OFP, just let us know! You can always email [email protected], or give us a call at the office and speak with our Project Manager.