Sunday, December 1, 2013

Question of the Week: Do You Print Out Your Manuscripts?

Hey everyone! It’s Clara Kensie, back with a new Question of the Week! Pretty much the only thing writers love as much as writing is talking about writing. So each week here at Adventures in YA Publishing, I post a question for you to answer. The questions cover all topics important to writers: craft, career, writers’ life, reading and books. Together we’ll become better writers by sharing tips and discussing our habits and practices.

December 1, 2013
Do you print out your manuscripts for editing?

Happy, happy Sunday, my friends! I hope you all had a great week. Today, December 1, is a big day for me: it’s my deadline for RUN TO YOU Book Two! Yep, today I am sending the manuscript to my brilliant editor, Natashya Wilson at Harlequin Teen. Woohoo! It will be released as a three-part serial in June 2014 (June 1, June 18, and June 15 to be exact). RUN TO YOU Book One will be released in February 2014, also as a three-part serial (February 1, February 8, and February 15). *Gasp* You guys. I just realized that my very first release date is exactly two months away! Eeeeeek!

Okay. Back to business. My question for you this week is: Do you print out your manuscripts for editing?

My printed manuscript - all that paper!

MY ANSWER: Yes. This is a fairly recent development in my revision process. I had always avoided printing out my manuscript because: 1) ink is expensive, and 2) using all that paper is bad for the environment. But this year, I discovered that reading my printed manuscript allows me to look at it with fresh eyes. For whatever reason, I see it completely differently than when I see it on the computer monitor. Now I’m a printing fiend. I print out my manuscript after each draft to make notes with my favorite red pen. While I’m writing a draft, I often print out individual chapters to edit as well, especially when I’m having trouble with them. So now, although my revising and editing have improved a thousandfold by printing things out, I’m spending a lot of money on ink, and I’m not being eco-friendly. I feel horribly guilty about that.

My husband snapped this photo as I was heading to the writing cave this morning:
Me, my coffee in my favorite mug, my favorite hoodie (a gift from the family after I sold RUN TO YOU),
my favorite red pen, and my printed-out manuscript.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you print out your manuscripts? How often? Do you find it helpful? (Side question: Do you have any tips about how to save money on ink and how to make it a more eco-friendly process?)


  1. Yes from me, though due to printing out necessary stuff for PhD work my carbon footprint's already quite scary. I need to read them on paper, get the rhythm right and scrawl all over them. For whatever reason, highlighting in documents doesn't have the same power. You can delete a highlighted note - you can't avoid the angry scrawl on the paper asking 'what?!'. We recently had to buy a new printer and, as well as price, we tried to make it a decent one environmentally. I hope that's enough!

  2. I just started to too, but only once. I see more details when its printed so I read through and take a pen and mark it up. Then make the changes in my computer. This is one of my last steps before the MS is shiney and query ready.

  3. Yes, I print out the manuscript when I have a completed draft. I take mine to a print shop, where it's printed double-sided and bound. The feeling of having an actual manuscript in hand is quite incredible. But, like you, I find more mistakes in print and my husband--a major contributor to the project--also prefers it. I do most of my editing by reading the scenes out loud. That is also helpful.

  4. Always! I send it to FeDEx and they do it quite cheaply. I find so many mistakes that way!!

  5. Me too - I print it out when I have a completed draft. It's amazing how much more I see that way. Same thing when I'm reading my critique group's work. I scavenge paper from everywhere to reuse, and I print two manuscript pages side by side per one sheet of paper.

  6. Yes, I like to print out each draft and mark it up.

  7. I've always printed mine out after a couple rounds of edits. I see things better on the printed page than I do the screen.

  8. Yes, I print mine out when it's time to edit. I like to have a hard copy to read through and make notes on. It's much easier to go through the first draft this way.

  9. Well, after reading this and all the comments, I guess I should be printing out my manuscripts for editing. I haven't really done that except for what I submit to my crit group, but maybe I will do more than that. Thanks for the interesting post.

  10. I printed out my MS when I met with a face-to-face crit group on a regular basis. I haven't done it in a while. I did just get a new printer up and running so I may go back to printing my MS and making it bleed with my hard-knocks red pen.

    Congrats on your release being very, very soon :-)

  11. I do my best to avoid printing my manuscript out completely while revising, a chapter or two is usually all I need, but you are so right about catching things in print that one tends to miss on the screen. Right now, though, I'm having to completely change the POV of the story I'm writing so each chapter HAS to be printed out. I recycle the paper after shredding it since I keep each completed draft on a flash drive. Does that help?

  12. Yes, I always print my manuscript. Generally I do it after six or seven revisions. Like you, I find that the words on paper give a different look, therefore fresh eyes for me. I come from a newspaper background where I used to mark up hard copy.

  13. Yeppers. After a few revisions, I take my thumb drive down to Office Max, get the MS printed on 3 hole paper and pop it into ye olde binder for a look see.

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