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3 Things To Do before Sending Your Manuscript To an Editor

A lot of concepts are grossly misunderstood in the contemporary Indian literary world, and one of those is definitely the entire editing process. I shall be talking at length in my subsequent posts on editing, but here I shall be touching upon a question that I have been asked a lot - “I am ready to send my manuscript for editing. What are the requirements?”

It is good that people are at least asking that question. There was a time when manuscripts were just unleashed (read: dumped) onto the poor editors and they were supposed to make sense out of complete chaos. I speak about why editors are not magicians and related things in the following points.

Improve the Language as Best as You Can

I repeat here: editors are not garbage dumps. They are not a cleanup service where authors can easily send junk and expect great-looking projects to come out when they are done. It is the author's responsibility to weed out as many errors as possible before sending the manuscripts to the editors.

This means, you need to remove all those 'ur' and 'dey' references. You need to remove all the SMS lingo where it is uncalled for. You have to run a basic spell-check and see whether the spellings are passably correct.

Punctuation is equally important. At the very least, you can carry out the basic punctuation tropes such as capitalizing the first letter of sentences and of proper nouns, putting a period (UK English: full-stop) after the last word of each sentence (without leaving a space in between), and so on. I need to make a special note of the quotation marks. Since conversations are going to be present throughout most manuscripts, it is a nightmare for the editor if the quotes are put wrongly. Even if the editor corrects the quoting syntax, it is very much possible that they might overlook some of them due to human error. Since wrong punctuation is not caught by grammar checkers, this might go into the final draft as well.

My suggestion is that the author must discuss with the editor beforehand if there is any confusion on how to use the quotes. This way it can be a learning process for future projects as well, and will drastically improve the current manuscript before being sent to the editor.

Let me tell you why this helps the editor. The editor does not just look for grammar but also for plot issues, character development, story arcs, etc. There are many other things that need attention. If from the very beginning the editor has to spend time on correcting 'ur's, then this important aspect gets sidelined. Eventually, it is the author who is at the losing end because they might miss out on getting a constructive feedback comment.

Format Your Manuscript

It is good and ethical to send a properly formatted manuscript to the editor. The editor will probably format your manuscript before starting out (I, for one, cannot read horribly formatted manuscripts), but that is not necessary. If the editor reads in a poor format, they might miss out on important things.

By formatting, I mean the basic things such as font size, title font size, chapter number placements, paragraph indents, paragraph spacing, and so on. If these things sound alien to you, you could speak about these with your editor upfront. A good editor will be only too happy to provide you with a sample written manuscript or even provide you with a short tutorial on how to do it.

I need to make a special note about paragraph indent. A lot of books, mostly self-published ones, have seen the light of day with poor paragraph indenting. This detracts from the reading experience. I will make a post about this soon on this site.

The standard format to use is either Times New Roman or Garamond font size 12 for the body text. Use the same font for the title text but of size 16 and use bold typeface. Of course, norms vary; this is just an example for beginners.

Get Some Feedback

It is a good idea to ask some of your close family and friends (people who have a grasp of language and are readers) to give you an initial feedback on your work. Now we talk a lot about how you should not completely trust feedback from familiar people, but as a starter, it is good. It tells you which direction you are going in.

I would suggest asking people who you are not very close to, if they agree to read. Maybe someone like a friend's friend – that kind of thing. That way the feedback will be more objective.

You could also get beta readers for your reading. On Facebook groups such as For Writers By Authors, you might find a lot of people willing to beta-read for you, provided you agree to read something of theirs in return. Swapping helps!

Thanks for reading. I will be speaking about more editing-related things shortly. Keep watching.


A writer, editor, and teacher by profession, Neil D'Silva has been in the game since the late 90s. His articles are splashed across various portals on the Internet, and his books are Amazon bestsellers. His debut book, Maya's New Husband, is well on its way to becoming an international movie.

Follow Neil D'Silva on Twitter on @neildsilva and visit his website at where he speaks about writing, publishing, and promotion, and shares his acclaimed short stories.

#Manuscript #NonFiction #Books #Language #Editing #Proofreaders #Editors #Authors #Writers #Fiction #English

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