What is a Manuscript?
When used in publishing terms a manuscript is the typewritten or handwritten draft of any literary work. It is understood to be an author’s written, typed, or word-processed copy of a work, as distinguished from the print of the same. Before the arrival of printing, all documents and books were manuscripts. Manuscripts are not defined by their contents, which may combine writing with mathematical calculations, maps, explanatory figures or illustrations. Manuscripts may be in book form, scrolls or in codex format. Illuminated manuscripts are enriched with pictures, border decorations, elaborately embossed initial letters or full-page illustrations. In short a manuscript is the prototype of a book before it is made into a book.
How do you make a Manuscript?
When you create a manuscript, there are many things to take into account. In truth when it comes to the book production process this is the most difficult because it takes a lot of time to come up with the main concept of the book. It takes a lot of hard work, soul searching and hours and hours of writing to make one. And it does not even count the additional hours of revision and double checking. It is understandable though, if you take into account of the fact that some books have at least 100,000 to 200,000 words. Which is why you’ll need as much help as you can when you start writing a manuscript. Here are some very useful tips.
- Make a writing schedule that you can keep, as it was stated before the writing process takes a very long time. So you should really make plans on what time you start on your manuscript and how much time you plan to give to this schedule. It can be anytime, just as long as you can regularly keep up with the schedule.
- Make your workspace as comfortable as possible, it can be a café, your room or even a cabin in the woods. All that really matters is that you are comfortable.
- Leave the formatting and corrections for later. When you make your manuscript, especially for the first time your full attention should be on the content.
- Make an outline for your manuscript. Think of it as the blueprints for your book, and like any blueprint your outline must be well thought out. Don’t rush the process.
- Read books for inspiration. This does not mean that you get their ideas for yourself. Just use their ideas to fuel your own creative drive.
- Ask advice from fellow authors. It pays to ask help from fellow writers because they are some of the only people that can relate to how difficult it is to create a manuscript.
- Have family critique your work. It is kind of difficult to have someone go through your work and point out the inconsistencies, but if you want to be a good writer you will have to toughen up and take the criticism. So it’s best that you have family and friends check your work because you know that their criticism is not malicious but is meant to make your work better.
- Make a deadline for yourself. This is not meant to pressure you or give you any anxiety. It is meant to give you a feeling of responsibility for your own work.
- Double check your work before you send your manuscript to any publishers.
- Have your work checked by a professional copyeditor. Although it is good to have trust in your abilities it is still a good idea to have your book checked by a professional. It just adds to the quality of your work.
How many words should a manuscript have?
When it comes to how many words a manuscript should have, there really is no set word count. It all really depends on the genre and whether it is your first time to write a novel or you are already a veteran writer. If you are writing an adult novel 70,000 to 80,000 words are quite acceptable, but 100,000 words seem a bit too much for an adult novel. For Science fiction books 100,000 to 150,000 words are perfect, not too short that it would lack detail and not too long to make it tedious. For middle grade books 20,000 to 25,000 words is the best amount. When it comes to Young adult novels 55 to 69 thousand words are quite acceptable. For picture books 500 to 600 words are good enough. For westerns 50,000 to 80,000 words are good. As for memoirs 80 to 89 thousand is perfect. These word counts are usually the format followed by a number of writers and is thus taken as a norm.
Why are manuscripts refused by publishers?
There are a lot of reasons why manuscripts are refused by publishers. Here are some examples.
- The manuscript follows recent trends too closely. Although it is understandable that some authors want their books to be relevant. But sometimes following trends tend to make your book too common and in the end lose its uniqueness.
- The manuscript has too many errors. Although it is quite acceptable that there are some grammar mistakes on your manuscript, too many mistakes may deter the publishing house from accepting your work.
- The characters are too boring. When your characters have no personality and are as bland as stale bread there really is no reason for a publishing house to take it up.
- The plotline is predictable. It is very unlikely that your work is selected if your plots are too linear and the twist can be seen a mile away.
- It is too preachy. Although it is a good idea to have a moral in the story, being too preachy in your manuscript could make your book boring and unattractive to prospective publishers.
- It is too repetitive. The story may be moving too slowly and tends to repeat itself.
- The story may seem too orchestrated. One of the things that a publisher usually looks for in a story is authenticity. If the story does not seem feasible in real life, there is little chance of it getting published.
- The words used may seem pretentious.
- The story has no cohesion. The storyline is all over the place and the events and characters do not seem to mix well with one another.
- It is just plain boring. Although there are no glaring errors, the story in itself is just to plain, it does not seem to pop and can’t get the reader’s attention.
Where should you submit your manuscript?
In submitting a manuscript, there are two options. You can send your work to a traditional publishing house. A traditional publishing house has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that you need not pay a thing for the production and promotion of your book. The disadvantage is that you will give up a majority of creative and monitory rights to the company. The other option is that you can send your work to self-publishing houses. When you self-publish, the advantage is that you will have overall freedom for your book. The disadvantage is that you will have to pay for the production and promotion of your book.