The word manuscript translates roughly as much as handwriting and actually means handwritten documents such as letters or books. In general parlance but also typewritten print templates are referred to as manuscripts and thus those works that the author sends to a publisher.
If a writer wants to write books, he must first write manuscripts. However, the chances of publishing one’s own work are not quite as good if an author submits his manuscript unsolicited.
This is less due to the quality of the book, but primarily because of the fact that editors receive a large number of manuscripts on a daily basis and they are unable to read and evaluate all of them.
The book idea
Similar to an application, the author should therefore first determine who is the contact person responsible for him and this contact person, as a rule, this is a lecturer, to present his book idea. If the book idea sounds interesting and fits in with the program of the publisher, the contact person will ask the author to submit documents.
Exposé and excerpt
However, these documents are not yet the manuscript, but usually first the Exposé and a reading sample.
The Exposé is an overview, so a summary of the book. The job of the exposé is to provide the lecturer with all the essential information he needs to rate the book. At the same time, however, the exposé should also make the editor curious. An Exposé is always written in the present tense and describes on at most two DIN A4 pages, what the book is about, who the main characters are, what conflicts the characters are exposed to, which genre the book belongs to and which readers should address it.
To the Exposé should show what makes the book unique, so it differs from many other books with a similar topic. The excerpt is a section of the manuscript, usually two chapters or two passages are selected.
On the one hand, the author can choose the beginning of his book, because here the main characters are presented and the theme, the mood and the style suggest. On the other hand, the author should choose a chapter or a passage that is particularly well done and, above all, exciting and dramatic in order to arouse the interest of the editor in reading further.
Usual for the reading sample are about ten to 30 pages. If the exposé and the sample were convincing, the editor will ask to submit the manuscript.
Write instructions and specifications for manuscripts
While the author’s books can give free rein to his creativity and imagination, clear formal guidelines apply to the writing of manuscripts. Those who want to write manuscripts should therefore follow the basic instructions, because only then are the requirements met and the manuscripts comply with the applicable standard.
It is not difficult to learn how to write standard-compliant manuscripts, especially since there are numerous tips and even templates for standard pages. Basically, manuscripts are written on white paper in DIN A4 format and the sheets are only inscribed on one side.
Font and page number
Courier is usually used in font size 12 point and with a fifteen-fold line spacing, but some publishers also require the font Arial. Usually, the manuscripts are written in such a way that there are 30 lines with 60 characters on each page, so there are about 1800 characters on one page, including spaces.
Each page of the manuscript is provided with the page number, the name and address of the author and the title of the work. Otherwise manuscripts consist exclusively of grammatical and orthographically correct written text, ie contain neither highlighting nor handwritten comments, comments, corrections or the like.
The manuscript should then be held together by the author of a simple booklet strip and sent in a transparent cover to the publisher. To staple the manuscript or to put it in a folder is not recommended, because this is rather unwieldy.