Parts of a Manuscript
Nearly every Toplight book needs a preface, an introduction, notes, a bibliography and an index. Other components that are common, but optional depending on the nature of the book, are a dedication, acknowledgments, a foreword (written by a third party) and appendices.
- Almost every Toplight book needs a preface, which is distinct from an introduction. It serves to answer a reader’s questions about the book itself: what it covers, what it doesn’t, why the subject is important, how you did your research, how the book is organized, etc. It is also an important reassurance to readers and reviewers that they hold a serious work.
- Unlike a preface, a book’s introduction summarizes the book’s subject. So, yes, most books benefit from the inclusion of an introduction. Otherwise, the reader has to go from the book’s title to the first paragraph of Chapter 1 and that might not, mentally, be a perfectly smooth trip.
- Many of our books have forewords, although—please understand—they rarely affect sales. You are welcome to include one, with the proper permission, if a person sufficiently well known in the field is willing to write it.
- More than 99 percent of our books need indexes. Authors compile the indexes for their books. It’s done during the proofreading process (after we have typeset the book). Consult our indexing guide for assistance.
- Our checklist for delivering your manuscript should prove helpful when you are preparing your manuscript package.
Style & Documentation
Recognizing that books have individual personalities, we do not try to impose a single style across all our publications. We do ask that authors follow mainstream, sophisticated style practices consistently.
Documentation is vital. If you don’t have source notes for your quoted matter and factual statements, we strongly recommend you add them. For most purposes we prefer endnotes (end-of-book) to footnotes (page bottoms), so keep your notes separate from your text and start a new numerical sequence for each chapter. Use any good standard system of documentation (Chicago, MLA, Turabian, etc.) and be consistent. A standard style guide can answer specific questions you have about how notes should be presented.
Nearly every book needs a bibliography. It serves as an indication to readers that the book they hold is a serious work based on a broad understanding of the topic, while also providing a starting point for further reading. Follow a consistent style and include all the sources you directly consulted for the book, even if you did not cite the source in the notes. A standard style guide can answer specific questions about how a bibliography should be presented.
When you send your manuscript, please include a title or, even better, several possible titles. We will use your input in setting the title; often the author’s suggested wording becomes the official title. There are definitely some special considerations now and then that authors understandably overlook. If we feel a significantly different title is necessary, we will discuss it with you. We try to finalize the wording soon after the manuscript arrives.
Toplight will finalize the cover design shortly after the manuscript is delivered. You may suggest ideas when you deliver the manuscript, and we will be happy to consider them. We may not always be able to accommodate these suggestions (because of size issues, quality troubles, copyright issues, or other factors). Covers are an essential marketing tool, and Toplight retains the final say on cover designs (check us out—they’re terrific!). If you have a suggestion, communicate it to us when you deliver the manuscript (or very, very shortly thereafter) by emailing the design department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consult our guidelines for photos.
Consult our guidelines for obtaining permissions.