Over the years I’ve received some gifts from authors, not least a bottle of Woodford Reserve bourbon. Such gifts are appreciated. But there are, as they say, gifts to that keep on giving. And one of those, for editors, are proposals and manuscripts submitted in excellent shape. So here are some gifts authors can give editors that benefit both authors and editors. And they can be given year round—who doesn’t like Christmas in July?
1. Submit a full proposal. As we editors consider your proposals, one of our frustrations is with proposals that are provide partial or incomplete information about your projects. The best way to assure that we receive all the information we need is to fill out our proposal submission form. We can’t adequately review a proposal if we don’t have a total (projected) word count. Nor can we do justice to a proposal if you don’t include a listing of chapter titles with short (200 words or fewer) descriptions of each chapter. The proposal forms also allow us editors to review the material swiftly and with smooth communication between editors. And you’re doing yourself a favor by filling out the proposal form, and filling it out in full, since an impartial form or impartial information means we usually have to go back to the author for more information. That of course delays full and final consideration of your proposal.
2. Use footnotes in the manuscript. There is a meme that authors will find a manuscript more friendly to read with endnotes. That’s incorrect. Footnotes are much simpler for consultation, having all pertinent information at the bottom of the page, than endnotes, which require the reader to flip back and forth from chapter to the end of the book. Footnotes with a carefully constructed bibliography allow the reader to find full information on a book easily. We sometimes make exceptions and allow endnotes, but it’s not optimal. Also, please note our author style guide and provide short footnotes (with author, short book title [no subtitle], and page cited). The full information is found in the bibliography, for those cases where readers want to find it. See Appendix B in our Author Guide for more guidance on this.
3. Submit all your material at once. When you’ve contracted a book with us and are ready to submit the final manuscript, it’s a great help to submit all your material (including the foreword) at once. Having material dribble in in pieces is a hassle and increases the chance that something will get lost or garbled in the transition.
These guidelines, again, will benefit both author and editor. In the meantime, and whatever the hassles, it’s important to be clear how much we appreciate our authors. You are wonderful and brilliant people. It’s a privilege to work on your books and play a role in bringing them to publication. A merry and wonderfully restorative Christmas to you all.