Five Things You Must Do Before You Publish

By Sarah Funderburke, Liberty University Press Manager

Writing and publishing a book is a goal that you can achieve with the right tools. In order to prepare your manuscript for submission to a publishing house you need to carefully review five elements of your book before shipping it off in the mail (or from your email).

  1. Select Your Audience

  2. Peer Editing

  3. Consider Your Sources

  4. Decide on Visual Elements

  5. Identify Possible Copyright Infringements

A good publisher will assist you with all five of these points, but the more print-ready your manuscript is when submitted, the faster it can be distributed to the public.

  1. Select Your Audience

Before submitting your manuscript to publishers, make sure you know exactly who the audience is for your manuscript.  If you answer is “everyone” you need to take a step back and rethink how your manuscript is written.

Here’s why: Writing to “everyone” does not allow your voice to reverberate well with the audience. Not “everyone” reads on the same level. For example, academic audiences, such as college students, are comfortable with a higher vocabulary level, formal in-text citations and endnotes. Non-academic audiences prefer simple terminology with more explanations, and like footnotes more than endnotes. 

Define your main audience and structure your writing style in order to make your readers more receptive and comfortable with your message.

  1. Peer Editing

Have friends, coworkers, or family members give feedback on your book. They will notice errors and confusing paragraphs that you may have missed. Be humble, and try to accept criticism with an open mind. Peer-editing can only strengthen your final product.

The more sets of eyes that review your manuscript before it is submitted for publication, the more refined the text will be.

  1. Consider Your Sources

Sources (quotes, reference material, ect…) in a non-fiction manuscript are part of the foundation of your text. They let your audience know that your message is well-researched and reputable.  Review your sources before completing your manuscript and check to see if they are:

  1. Recent- Most fields evolve over time. The more recent a source is the more likely it will be relevant to your audience.
  2.  Reputable- Are your sources from websites/journals/books that have a good reputation? Websites that have no editorial review process, or that allow users to upload content (such as Wikipedia) may provide inaccurate information.
  3. Displayed Well- How does your audience expect to see your sources displayed? Should they be formatted according to a field-specific style guide, such as APA, MLA or Turabian? Or, is your audience more familiar with footnotes?

Good sources let readers know that your message is powerful. 

  1. Decide on Visual Elements

Does your book need illustrations, diagrams, charts or pictures? Most books at the very least require an author photo. You may need to schedule a professional headshot for your book, or purchase stock photography for icons used in the design.

Make sure that you have a professional headshot and other images needed for your book.

  1. Identify Possible Copyright Infringements

You know your manuscript better than anyone else. Is there anything in it you “borrowed” from another source (for example: Bible verses)? Borrowed information may need to be included in your book’s copyright page.

Note all borrowed content in your book so your publisher is aware that it needs to be checked for copyright infringement.