Manuscript Formatting Tips from a Book Designer to Make Production Go Smoothly

You’ve expended great effort on your manuscript, working on your own and perhaps with an editor to create great content and address such essentials as readability, clarity, style, and correct grammar and punctuation. When this is done, it’s time for the manuscript to go to the graphic design professional who will turn your text into a well-designed book ready for print and/or e-publishing.

Formatting TipsWhether you have a book contract with a publisher or you are self-publishing, you as the author have a part to play in helping the book formatting and production process go smoothly. I recently had the pleasure of having coffee with book designer and graphics professional Jenny Putnam (, who shared 8 quick tips on how to prepare your manuscript for formatting. (My comments in italics.)

1. Your manuscript should be letter-sized (8.5×11), double-spaced text with page numbers and consistent page margins all the way through. (Sounds obvious, but if you’re not working with an editor who’s already adjusted a single-spaced manuscript with too-wide or too-narrow margins to a “standard” format for editing, take note!)

2. Establish a consistent hierarchy of headlines and indicate within brackets. For example, if you have an A-level headline and B-level subheadings, you’d indicate the first by typing: [A Head]This is an A Head[end A Head]. Use the same bracketing technique to indicate captions, callouts and sidebars. (Ask your book designer for his or her preference on how to indicate these, and then follow those instructions.)

3. If your book has illustrations (including photos and charts), indicate where these go using brackets and image number, for example, [insert image 128 here]. (You may have included these images in your manuscript as a visual cue for yourself as you wrote the book, but it’s better to number each of your illustrations, indicating the proper insertion point in the text, and supply the illustrations as separate files.)

4. Do not format the text other than to indicate bold and italics, and be sure that both are used consistently throughout the manuscript. Leave a single space at the end of sentences (not two spaces, as those of us who learned touch-typing back in the day were taught) and after colons and semi-colons. (Yes, it’s fun to play with fonts and type sizes as you envision what your finished book might look like, but your book designer can work most efficiently with a manuscript that’s minimally formatted.)

For the rest of the tips, please contact Jenny Putnam for her helpful 2-page PDF on “How to Prepare Your Manuscript for Formatting” ( By supplying your book designer with a “clean” manuscript (no extraneous formatting) and clear and consistent instructions for how you want text and images to appear, you’ll reduce the time it takes to format and produce your book and you’ll ensure a high-quality finished product.

Blue Pencil Consulting Interviewed on “MYOB” on UR Business Network

MYOBThis week I was interviewed for the “MYOB — Mind Your Own Business” program on the UR Business Network. The show was a conversation with host Rick Brutti and co-host Lindsay Poole about book writing and book publishing.

We covered a variety of topics in a short time, ranging from the importance of book proposals and the need for authors to be creative about book promotion, to my own little-known background in radio broadcasting and why I use the term “book therapy” to describe part of what I do when I work with clients on their book projects.

The 20-minute podcast is here if you’d like to take a listen:

Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments below!

Meet Authors, Talk Publishing, at New England Authors Expo

New England Authors ExpoIf you’re in the Greater Boston area this Wednesday, July 31, stop by the New England Authors Expo and Book Sale at the Danversport Yacht Club (161 Elliott Street, Route 62, Danvers, MA), between 4 and 9 p.m. Admission is free to the public. I’ll be exhibiting, along with over 100 New England authors, illustrators, publishers, printers, and author services providers.

At the Expo, you can buy books to fill up that summer reading bag or get a head start on gift shopping. You can meet many local authors and artists, and discuss book writing, illustrating and printing with dozens of publishing professionals.

I’m expecting a few clients will be at the table with me over the course of the afternoon and evening, so it’s a great opportunity to chat informally about different aspects of the book writing and book publishing process.

This year’s Expo is dedicated to the memory of writer Penny Fey and her son, and will raise funds through the Penny Fey Charity Raffle. For more information about the Expo, visit or the Expo’s Facebook page:

Tell Your Business Story

Tell Your Business StoryYou can tell your business story through words (written and/or spoken) and images. That’s the topic of a panel I’m moderating this morning at the North Shore Business Forum (, with panelists Tony Toledo, storyteller extraordinaire, and Lauren Poussard, ace photographer and caramel maker.

We’re sharing lots of great tips on how to most effectively tell your business story and connect with your target audience. Unlike the fellow on the right scratching something in the sand, you want to create a memorable and lasting impression with your storytelling. Here’s just one sample tip:

Be intriguing… Telling your business story is less like bad used car salesmanship and more like, oh… dating or the art of burlesque. Reveal a little at a time.

Want more? The handout created by me and Tony Toledo for the presentation is available for download here, and Lauren Poussard’s visual storytelling tips are here.

Workshop on Creating Social Media Content

Workshop on Creating Social Media ContentOffering dynamic, valuable content through your business website and social media platforms (blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) is what keeps visitors coming back and helps turn them into clients. On June 24, I’ll be teaching a three-hour workshop that focuses on how to generate ideas for terrific content that helps your business stand out from the competition.

The workshop takes place June 24 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the North Shore Community College’s Cummings Center campus in Beverly. Cost is $49; to register for the workshop (CSA 103), visit NSCC’s website at Contact me with any questions at

It’s All About the Words

Kathleen M. Victory HannisianThis vintage photo is one of my favorite reminders that the written word has been my passion from a very early age. That’s me, somewhere before age two, sharing my books and magazines with a collection of stuffed friends. Yes, I managed to place the reading materials all right side up, and my mom was so taken with what she still refers to as my “school” that she snapped this picture.

Aside from being happy that I’ve got a different hairstyle now, I’ve been thinking about my long-time involvement with words — and helping others choose and polish theirs — as I get ready to attend Grub Street’s fabulous annual “Muse and the Marketplace” conference this weekend. I love this event because it’s a chance to spend time with other people who write and read with abandon, and it’s a chance to hear new perspectives on  the shifts and opportunities in the publishing business. It’s also going to be a chance to step back from my current work on book development projects and fast-tracked book proposals, and zoom out to a big-picture view of publishing.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of each publishing path? How do you craft a logline to sell your book in one sentence? Why choose an independent press as your publisher? These are just some of the questions to be explored at the sessions I’ll be attending, and I’ll be blogging about these post-conference.

If you’re attending, please connect with me, say hello, share comments here, on the Blue Pencil Consulting Facebook page or on Twitter. See you at the Muse!

Books Are Love Made Visible

“Work is love made visible.” — Kahlil Gibran

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I’d like to send a heartfelt “thank you” to all my clients, past and present, for the honor and pleasure of working with you to help you tell your stories. In his book The Prophet, poet Kahlil Gibran asked:

“And what is it to work with love?

It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.

It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.

It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.

It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,

And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.”

Books Are Love Made VisibleI shared this excerpt from Gibran’s poem with a networking group a few weeks ago, when I was asked to talk about why I do the work that I do. It struck me that it seems relevant on this day when we celebrate love. When I collaborate with clients on book projects, the work is indeed love made visible. The photo with this post is a selection of client books (arranged more or less in the shape of a heart). Each of those books is the result of the author’s passionate desire to share their expertise and ideas with the world, and it’s my delight to help them make that happen.

When I work with clients on their blogs, journal articles, and email newsletters, that too is work in which love is made visible (albeit in digital rather than physical form). Again, there is the client’s desire to communicate in a polished, effective way with a particular audience, and I love putting my editing, writing, and content development skills to work in the service of that goal.

So a special Valentine’s Day thank you to my clients, collaborators, and friends of Blue Pencil Consulting. Maybe your story is the one I’ll have the privilege of working on next…

Mingle with Publishing Pros at the New England Authors Expo

Interested in learning more about how more than 50 New England authors have gotten published? Come to the New England Authors Expo and Holiday Book Sale on Sunday, November 11, from 1 PM to 7 PM at the Danversport Yacht Club (Route 62, Danvers, MA). Meet authors, buy holiday gifts for all the book lovers on your list, and chat with a number of small publishers and publishing services firms. Admission is free.

Blue Pencil Consulting is one of the exhibitors — I’ll be there, ready to chat with people interested in the process of taking a idea and turning it into a published book. I’ll be sharing a table with Lisa McKenna of Curious Marie LLC; Lisa is a talented graphic designer who worked with me on one client’s new book, and who is also developing iOS apps.

At our table, I’ll have copies of some client books available for sale.

Lucky By Design: Navigating Your Path to SuccessFor the entrepreneur on your gift list, pick up a copy of Beth Goldstein’s Lucky By Design: Navigating Your Path to Success (

Joy-Worthy: A Mother’s Guide to More Joy, Less Stress and No GuiltIf there’s a harried mom on your gift list, here’s a terrific choice: Julie McGrath’s brand-new book, Joy-Worthy: A Mother’s Guide to More Joy, Less Stress and No Guilt (

(If you can’t attend the Expo, both books are available via Amazon.)

For more information on the Expo, visit Hope to see you there!

Use an Editorial Calendar to Manage Your Social Media Content

Use an Editorial Calendar to Manage Your Social Media ContentIf you are a busy business owner using one or more social media platforms to build community and attract potential clients, you may struggle to come up with relevant content on a consistent basis. Adding dynamic, valuable content to platforms like your blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube or Pinterest is what keeps people coming back and helps turn them into clients.

One tool that’s incredibly useful for keeping yourself on track is a social media content calendar, much like the editorial calendars used by magazines and newspapers. Create a list or a spreadsheet with the dates you plan to add content to your social media platforms and generate a list of the topics you’ll address on each of those dates. You can certainly change the topics as you need to — to react to a news development in your industry, for example — but by generating a topic list ahead of time, you’ll never be at a loss for a topic to write about.

To learn more about how to generate ideas for terrific content that helps your business stand out from the competition, come to my 3-hour workshop “Content is King: Stand Out Using Social Media” on Wednesday, October 17, 2012.

This social media workshop takes place from 6:30 to 9:30 PM at the Danvers Campus of North Shore Community College. Register online now at North Shore Community College ( for course CSA103 (Continuing Education division).

Are Books the “New Business Card”?

Are Books the “New Business Card”?

“Books are no longer simply books, they are branding devices and credibility signals — not to mention the reason their authors command large speaking or consulting fees.” So says Ryan Holiday, in a column today on the Fast Company website. His point is that authors of non-fiction books are increasingly diversifying their income streams, with many making “substantially more money through new business generated by a book, rather than from it.”

This is a trend that’s been building for some time; I’ve seen it reflected in my own work with clients. Discussions about non-fiction book projects go beyond content and audience to encompass ideas about what the book can do for the author and the author’s business. Smart thought leaders think of their non-fiction books as multi-purpose tools. Books can be a calling card for the author’s business, a demonstration and confirmation of his or her expertise, a vehicle for sharing new ideas and valuable content, and a way to build additional revenue streams from consulting and/or speaking engagements. For a concise take on how this works, see my colleague Ken Lizotte’s excellent book, The Expert’s Edge.

If you are in the Boston area on September 27 (please note date correction!) and are interested in learning more about how a book can help your business, attend “Publish and Flourish! Got a Book in You? Let’s Get It Out!” This networking event features an expert panel (including yours truly) and breakout discussions on the process of creating, publishing, and promoting your book. For more information, visit Boston Women Connect. If you can’t attend but have an idea for a book that could promote your business, contact me ( to schedule a no-obligation chat about how we might work together to make that happen.