There’s nothing like a printed book; the weight, the woody scent, the feel, the look.
―E. A. Bucchianeri
What is manuscript preparation?
A fully formatted book goes through a series of processes and involves the contribution of multiple teams before it finally hits the market. Formatting a book is also a time-consuming task. To make things easier for all the processes involved, it is necessary to prepare the book in a proper manner prior to formatting.
Manuscript preparation is a process that includes checking whether all the contents of the book, be it a first edition or a revised edition, are provided by the author, followed by appropriate call-outs for the artworks, placement of the tables, box elements etc. This helps the typesetter and other involved teams to proceed with the formatting process.
Before the book goes into production, it is important to have a thorough check of all essential elements and permissions to avoid last-minute delays.
Who is a preparer?
A book is transmitted from the hands of the Editorial to the Production team. A manuscript preparer is a person who is a link between the Editorial and the Production team. Before a book goes into production, the role of a manuscript preparer comes into play. A manuscript preparer checks whether all the contents of the book are available, provides proper call-outs for artworks and other elements of a book, checks for the table of contents and aligns them with the input chapters, and prepares book info sheet based on the data provided, to be transferred to production process which involves the role of a copy editor and a typesetter.
A manuscript preparer receives files, usually in the form of a Word document, from the Editorial team, prepares the manuscript, resolves any discrepancies with the Editorial team and finally proposes the final transmittal notice.
Processes in manuscript prepping
Manuscript preparation is categorized into two processes:
- Manuscript Prep
- Preparing Book Info Sheet
Let us see what these processes are.
When a book is received for manuscript preparation from the Editorial team, firstly, the input is analyzed, checking whether the book is a first edition or a revised edition, and then it is cross-checked for all essential elements against the notes document that has been shared.
Steps in manuscript prep:
- Folder creation: Appropriate folder creation with the author name and edition, followed by sub-folder creation of all the inputs shared. Files that are to be transmitted to Production are the ones that will be placed in these folders.
- File naming: A standardized file naming convention is followed, which helps in avoiding confusion during the production process.
- Checking table of contents: Table of Contents (TOC) is a very crucial element, which needs to match correctly with the chapters and contents of chapters in a book. Matching the contents from the chapters and creating a detailed TOC is the next important step in manuscript preparation.
- Labeling/call-outs: Callouts for every piece of text in the manuscript will have a unique design treatment.
- Credit line vs Source line: Checking permissions log for appropriate credit and source info is also a part of the Manuscript prep process.
Any instruction to be added for the author, typesetter, Production Editor, or copy editor will be given near the content in a defined standard format.
Call-outs fall under the following two categories:
- New call-outs: Insertion of new figures, photos, tables will be called out under this category.
- Pick-up call-outs: Any figure, photo or table that needs to be used from a previous edition will fall under this category.
Both types of call-outs have their own standard way of representation.
Preparing Book Info Sheet
After prepping the manuscript, the next step in the transmittal process is to fill out the Book Info Sheet and Castoff-o-matic in an Excel with the required template and design mentioned. This step involves tracking individual manuscript elements, estimating the number of MS pages that each MS file will take up, and calculating the final book length.
Key Terms in Prepping
Some of the key terms and terminologies in manuscript prepping include the following:
A transmittal refers to delivering the input manuscript and all of its elements from the hands of Editorial into the hands of Production. It is the beginning of the production cycle, during which Production and Editorial work closely together to bring a book to life. The ideal transmittal is a complete manuscript, with all front matter, back matter, figures and artwork included, all photos selected and downloaded or requested, and all third-party permissions requested, if not already secured.
The next most ideal transmittal is one with fully prepped manuscript, that is, providing complete callouts for photos, figures, boxes, and other features; clear identification of items to come, that is, a permissions log as complete as possible; and available photos and figures/artwork provided and properly labeled.
A callout is, in simple terms, an instruction that tells the typesetter where to place things in the book. The callout itself is not meant to appear in text, so it is usually flagged in red and in brackets to indicate that it is a set of instructions.
A log that lists a book’s third-party content, whether permission is required to reprint that content, the dates on which permission was requested and obtained, and the credit line that should appear with the reprinted material.
Third-party material that is being reprinted exactly as it appears in a different publication needs a credit line. Photos always have credit lines. Figures get credit lines if someone else made them.
Any artwork made using data that the author did not create themselves needs a source line, notifying the reader where they got the information. If the author creates a table using data from a website, the website should be listed as a source.
Manuscript preparation leads to a faster and efficient formatting of the book. Hurix has been instrumental and successful in this prepping process which in turn helps the production teams deliver high quality output with quick turnaround and less confusion.