In my last post, I talked about how important it is for you to share your heart and knowledge with others. In this post, I wanted to go over some practicalities, issues I see in nearly every manuscript I work on.
First - layout: If you are self-publishing, take a careful look at your publisher's specs for interior layout. (CreateSpace's are here.) Before you even start to type, set up your document according to those specs and you will have much less to change later. If you have already begun, copy your content, paste it into Notepad to strip out all formatting, and then paste from Notepad into your new, correctly formatted document. And SAVE IT!
Naming: Save this first draft with the date. Save each subsequent draft with the date as well, and if you're working with someone else, add the editor's initials. This may seem anal, but believe me, it's important. If there's a question about a change, or something gets corrupted in a file, you always have the previous version to work from. Listen to the voice of experience!
Formatting: Never EVER (not EVER EVER) use Enter to force text onto a new page. I've seen this over and over, and it will create wonkiness in your document as the content changes. Hitting Enter means you're putting actual line breaks in, which forces the content down. But if you add or delete any content, that extra space will still be there where you don't want it! Instead, when you want to start a new page press Alt and Enter to insert an actual page break. That preserves the desired placement.
Proofread: Carefully review your document yourself. You can use your word processor's spell check, but don't rely on it. Most every suggested correction I've seen in Word is incorrect! Then get a professional pair of eyes to do a format edit and proof process. Don't rely on Neighbor Jim or Mom unless that person has mad grammar skills. And no, English majors are not automatically good proofreaders!
I hope this "starter kit" of ideas helps you get started on your own fabulous story. When you need help, just ask me!
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