Preparing Your Poetry or Other Manuscript for Publication © Monika Rose April 2011
A few tips from Monika Rose, Editor – monikarosewriter.com
These are not conclusive…many more things to think about abound, but these are a few….
Manzanita Writers Press manzapress.com
1. Saving your Files:
- Keep a working folder with your book project name.
It is important for you to save your drafts and document changes, as well as to save your files in folders that indicate the final draft and date of each poem. Some day, it will be useful to view your drafts and process. Back these all up to a CD or DVD disc, external hard drive, flash drive (which can corrupt). If anything, it keeps MA candidates busy if your work is studied in the future.
- I keep a folder for each poem. Inside of that folder are two folders. One has draft documents of the poem with dates, and they are numbered in succession. Each time a change is made, the document is given a new number added to the title and a new date for revision. This tracks any changes made to the poem. The other folder has the one final draft of the poem going to press.
- Copy final poetry files that you have labeled to the section folders in your main folder. Do not move them, but COPY them.
- When it is time to copy these final drafts into a folder for the publisher, then they are copied in succession from the final draft folder of each poem, into the section folders ready for the publisher.
2. Organizing your files for the publisher:
- Front Matter materials organized in a folder called Front Matter- copyright page, dedication, etc.
- Back Matter materials also organized in a folder called Back Matter – author bio, photo, credits, etc.
- Sections numbered or saved with titles- with section titles and any quotations/photos
- Poetry matter is saved inside each section.
3. Preparing ancillary materials:
- ISBN number – some people advise to purchase your own ISBN # for the book, but publishers do this and they are listed in Ingram and distribution sites – if you self-publish, or partner with another press and exchange printing favors, then purchase your own as well as the bar code afterwards, from the Bowker site online. This takes about a half hour for the process.
- Library of Congress Catalog # – obtain this free. It takes about a week or so to get it back via email.
- Copyright page – retain copyright of the book – list your name as copyright owner on the copyright page.
- Attributions and Credits – where your poems have appeared in print – give publication and dates if possible for every poem
- Acknowledgements page – front or back – thank you’s
- Dedication – short – usually to one or two people
- Blurbs for the Back – quoted lines from other writers and editors or readers to whom you have sent your manuscript to read and give commentary for the back cover
- Author page: bio and photo with photographer caption – saved as a larger tiff and as a jpeg and name them so you know (two types) – this goes for all photos and images used. 5 or more megapixels camera used(larger files with good resolution are needed – the jpeg files are used for smaller files, web sites, newspaper photos, etc.)
4. Preparing the text for the manuscript
- Fonts – use Times New Roman – or other serif – don’t use a sans serif font
Do not change font styles for titles or anything – don’t bold your lines or use all caps
Some fonts have strange italic styles, or letter configurations. Don’t use different ones.
- The typesetter and editor will select fonts/depends on the arrangement you have with your publisher. If self-publishing and you want to do your own layout, take Tom Johnson’s class. Learn about fonts and sample them. Some of the fonts don’t print well in a large run and are hard to read.
5. Use a style manual and study it carefully – Chicago Manual of Style is best
- Use Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary -or latest one www.merriam-webster.com
- Check those darn hyphenated (or not) words! I never realized how tricky these were until putting words in print. Edit carefully. It will cost you a lot of money if you send the typed manuscript to the editor and publisher, and then once it is laid out, you discover many changes you want to make to it.
6. Check your manuscript in Word.
- Note spacing issues, spelling, grammar, capitalization of lines do go through and check to see if your own format is consistent to the lines in the printed poem. Check contractions–are they needed? Get rid of them if possible. Check line length and evenness — visually and rhythmically. Check for best words. It is never too late to revise your poems. W.B. Yeats did this constantly in various printings. But I would advise that you do this before the book is printed.
- Also, set your tools in Word to catch all your errors, including passive construction, grammar, style, etc. Check all spelling options if the word is in red. This saved me several times, and I’m an English teacher! I knew that the word maize was not spelled maise. But I didn’t pay attention to the cute little red line.Good thing we caught it just in time!
- Check punctuation carefully. Do you need the extra commas and periods? Get rid of them if they are not necessary. What about those colons?
- Use M-dashes for those long dashes poets love to use – Emily, this one’s for you!
Sometimes, Word will change those double hyphens for you, sometimes not.
Go to insert symbol—look for the M-dash (the longer one). The shorter one is the N-dash. Do not use that one. Set cursor to the spot and click the dash. Voila! There is no space on either side of the M-dash. However, there is a space after each ellipsis. . .
- What style do you want your numbers to be if you have sections numbered in your poems Roman numerals or other? What other styles do you prefer? Page number location, etc.
- Check your titles – are they too long? Do they give everything away too soon?
- Epigraphs: These are those dedications after poem titles, or extra information about the place or time the poem references. Indent with an M-dash and then italicize them. Be consistent.
- Line length: Depending on the size of your book, your lines, if too long, will automatically be shifted to the next line and will split, depending on spacing
- Do this yourself before the heartache comes. Shorter lines are best. Measure your space. For a 6 x 9 formatted book, leave about a 1 and 1/2 inch margin inside and outside, to be safe. Then see if your printed poem fits inside that frame. If not, you need to think about how to split your lines and reform your stanzas. It may mean rewriting. Think about this as you write your poems to save you heartache later. See what editors do with Walt Whitman’s poems and their very long lines.
- Speaking about lines, VERY IMPORTANT:
Most poetry is flush left margin, not centered. Think very carefully as to whether you want to center any of your poetry. Unless it’s a concrete/shaped poem, leave it conventional flush left.
- Watch stanza consistency. There may be shifts in your lines once the stanzas are laid out, with lines dropped and moved to the next page. Carefully proof your galleys.
7. Seasoned poets have formed typing habits that can hinder a typesetter:
- eliminate your two spaces after a period – only use one space as the computer program adjusts the spacing after a period automatically – difficult to change typing habits practiced over the years, I know
- don’t use the space bar, use tabs, to place words in shaped poems or poems that have creative spacing, and don’t space over to the end of the line. They show up when a typesetter goes to place your poem.
- single space your poems and double space between stanzas – if a stanza is split at the bottom of the page, then indicate the stanza break or indicate the stanza is continuous if it goes to the next page – best thing is to keep stanzas intact.
- turn off your system’s hyphenation if you have prose poetry
- don’t justify (don’t full justify – the block symbol in the tool bar)
8. For more book manuscript information, check this site online:
Contact MWP local layout designer as a reference: Joyce Dedini firstname.lastname@example.org
For any other advice, contact Manzanita Writers Press. We would be happy to help.
Monika Rose, Editor
Joy Roberts, Business Manager, Editor
Linda Field, Fiction editor, Events Coordinator
Copyright 2011 – Monika Rose