When your manuscript file gets longer than a few pages, it gets unwieldy in a hurry. Fortunately there are some things you can do to tame that beast and make your life and your writing easier. Try these ideas:
- Insert page number just as soon as you open a file. Do this even if you plan to add fancy running heads or footers later on. You’ll be printing out this manuscript more than once and the first time you drop it, you’ll be so grateful for those numbers!
- Let the manuscript generate a working table of contents. If you’re using Word, you do this with heading styles – a bit of a pain to use, but more than worth it in the end. I’ll bet other word processors have something similar. I find I generate new tables of contents often because they help me keep track of my writing.
- Probably every word processing program has some sort of book marking system. I ignore the official way and add a simple xxx when I finish a writing session. When I come back, I do a quick search and I’m right where I want to be in the next session. I sometimes will use another character, like z in the tripple form to mark other problem areas. Again, it’s a cinch to search on these and find where you were.
- If you’re going to have an index, you can start marking the words you want indexed right from the start. If that makes the manuscript difficult to use, open another file and simply list the words you want to index. The search function will stand you in good stead when it comes time to build your index.
- I find it easier to write even book-length manuscripts in a single file. Sure, most word processing programs will concatenate for you, but it’s awkward.
Links and Graphics in Manuscripts
eBooks, and edocs let you include live links as well as graphics. You can have a fully illustrated eBook that, if it were a trade book would simply too expensive to produce. You simply insert the drawing, photo or illustrations in your manuscript and when you convert, your pictures are there, in all their glorious color.
If your book has lots of illustrations, you’ll probably need page layout software to place them exactly where you want them on the page. Of course, if you have a publisher, you can leave that to them, just marking where each graphic goes.
If you’re self-publishing and have only a few graphics, your word processing software may be able to handle it. I’ve done it and it can become a nightmare. The best tip I can give you is keep multiple backups… backing up to two or more files every single time you add a drawing or picture.
The problem with illustrations is they can make your final file huge. You can mitigate this by using compression on your downloadable file, but keep file size in mind and make sure there is a real reason for every graphic.
Word, frankly, doesn’t do a great job with graphics; the file tends to blow up when it gets too large. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell what “too large” actually means. In truth, if you want a long manuscript with a lot of graphics, you need some sort of type setting or page layout software.
If you’re going to include illustrations of one sort or another, you’ll also need to know how to use some sort of image editing program. Expect too, to spend some serious time placing the graphics exactly where you want them. It’s a fiddly process, but worth doing when the graphics serve a purpose.
Image from http://www.sxc.hu