1. Schwinn57
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    Schwinn57 Member

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    What exactly is a manuscript?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Schwinn57, Apr 22, 2011.

    When you submit a manuscript to a publisher, what stage of the writing process is it in?

    Is it a final draft or a draft in process?

    Is it a finished project or an excerpt that you contract with the publisher for?

    I've never considered publishing and am not in the near future but I'm just curious.
     
  2. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Technically any original book, letter, document, etc. can be called a manuscript.

    EDIT: before someone corrects me :p The actual word is translated to manually written (you can see that, right?) so it used to refer to handwritten documents only. Now we use it to identify to originals of created works. [/EDIT]

    When you submit to a publisher it should be a final draft (unless you are writing non-fiction, then the rules change)

    Your third question, the way I understand it, depends on what the publisher or agent asks you to send them.
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    In the UK it is a completed manuscript (like Trish points out for Non Fiction you can send in a book proposal).

    Agents/Publishers most often ask for a synopsis and three chapters. Then if they like it ask for either a more detailed synopsis or the full manuscript.
     
  4. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    Non-fiction can be sold on proposal, meaning an author makes a pitch on a book they intend to write and if someone likes the idea they go ahead and write it. Fiction is generally not queried or submitted until the thing is as final as you can make it. Even then, an agent or publisher might suggest changes.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    if fiction, it should be a completed ms that's been polished to a faretheewell... in other words, as perfect as you can make it..

    a 'final draft' is a completed ms that's ready to be submitted... you should never submit any earlier drafts...

    a 'manuscript' ['ms' singular; 'mss' plural] is only a completed one... excerpts are only quoted bits of the ms... agents and publishers will want to see full 'sample chapters' not excerpts...

    the only time you would query an agency about a work in progress would be if they already have sold previous best-selling books of yours and know they can sell a new one to a publisher before it's written...

    the only time you'd query publishers directly with a work in progress is if it's non-fiction and you are either known to them as a successful author/public figure, or are a recognized authority in the field the book covers and can thus possibly snag a contract for it before you've completed it... in which case, you'd have to submit a full book proposal...

    hope this sets you straight on things... love and hugs, maia
     
  6. Schwinn57
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    Schwinn57 Member

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    Thanks for the responses guys!

    I think I understand the process a little better now.
     
  7. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    I most definitely have a finished, final draft of the manuscript. My publisher asked me for the entire manuscript and synopsis. She expected me to have the final draft in, in a certain period of time, which I found to be acceptable.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Please note that a manuscript looks nothing like the finished work in print. The format for a manuscript is typewriter friendly, and is also designed to leave room for copious notes by the submissions editor.

    Although the details vary slightly for the preferences of individual publishers, manucript format is double-spaced, with one inch (or two centimeter) margins on all four sides. Each paragraph begins hit a half inch (or one centimeter) first line indent and no extra blank lines between paragraphs. In hard copy, they are printed single-sided. The font should typically be a Courier 12 point in black, although other fixed width serif fonts are also accepted. Fixed width and serif fonts are preferred because they make it easier to spot mistakes.

    William Shunn's site is among the best references for manuscript format. e.g. William Shunn: Manuscript Format: Novel Format.
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Check requirements are changing drastically have been doing since I started looking only six months ago. Some top agents in the UK are moving to only taking electronic submissions or stressing it is their preferred method of submission. I know some in the US are now beginning to ask the same. If you are submitting to UK publishers (I know I was not the only one on the forum doing Angry Robot in March), then the margins are 3-4 cms, and NOT courier - they tend to ask for 12pt Times New Roman in hardcopy or arial ( or any sensible font that isn't courier) in electronic form. Hardcopy is double spaced, electronic single spaced etc

    Always include a title page with contact details (number one thing agents here say people forget), include page numbers (number two forgotten thing), include date of submission (it aides you being read quicker when the agent/publisher can see how long they have had your manuscript)
     
  10. Jayyy1014
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    Jayyy1014 Jerrica Contributor

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    A manuscript or handwrit is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way And yes it should be a final draft when you give it to a publisher because would you want to give something that was a rough draft to a publisher in hopes of being published?
    -Hope this helps
     

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