Essential writing skills: the ten-step tick list for finishing your manuscript

Whether you’ve got a publishing contract or intend to self-pub, there’s no getting around the need for quality assurance. And there’s only one way to get it – system, process, and a lot of elbow-grease.

My Adler Gabrielle 25 - on which I typed maybe a million words in the 1980s.
My Adler Gabrielle 25 – on which I typed maybe a million words in the 1980s.

In recent weeks I’ve been outlining approaches to editing. But the process doesn’t end when you’ve got the last line-edit cycle finished. There are still things left to check.

Trust me – it’s important! You’d be amazed what slips through. The things to watch for before packaging that manuscript up and sending it off are:

1. Is the work still on length?
2. Are all your headers and footers consistent and correct?
3. Does the pagination on the contents page match the actual pagination?
4. Do your chapter titles match up with the contents page?
5. Did the last change you made accidentally introduce an error?
6. Is the pagination still OK – has anything “rolled over” by a line?
7. Did you spell your own name correctly (this is NOT facetious!).
8. If you’re using Word, have you purged the internal edit tracking? (Select all, copy contents into new blank document, save as a new file).
9. Have you clearly copyrighted the work and added your assertion of moral right?
10. If you’re sending by email, have you attached the right version of the file?

These things apply even more rigorously if you’re self-pubbing and are about to upload.

Have you ever published something or sent in a manuscript and had one of those “oh no” moments?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

Coming up: More writing tips, science geekery and general fun. Watch this space.

19 thoughts on “Essential writing skills: the ten-step tick list for finishing your manuscript

  1. You’re absolutely right! I couldn’t believe it when after doing a thorough edit (or so I thought) I sent my m/s away and later reading through it for the 100th time discovered things like punctuation mistakes, repetition, even chapters in the wrong place. It was the usual panic-stations trying to do it all before Christmas. A big mistake!


  2. Great check list, Matthew. I was working with Microsoft Works on a p.c and had to move that to a laptop with Word then turn into a pdf and with each move the formatting messed up. I’ve eliminated one stage ready for next time but the perfect preview document was thrown right out as an e-book and there was no more viewing it when it was tranferred to KDP. I’m seriously thinking of dropping the e-book side next time. I can always do it later when more kids are reading ebooks.


      1. Thanks, Matthew. I’d better stick with word for a bit since that’s the reason I just got a tablet with it on.


    1. Moral right is the right to be recognised as the author. It is upheld by international agreements but has to be actively asserted by statement of the author. This is usually on the imprint page. It includes a right to object to derogatory treatment of the work by a publisher. Moral right differs from copyright in that copyright can be sold and then administered (and the income from it collected) by someone other than the author.


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