Guidelines for Book Editors and Authors

 Responsibilities of Book Editors

Book Editor responsibilities may vary according to the size and type of the publication and some editors may handle more tasks than others. An important aspect of a book editor’s job is to cultivate relationships with authors. Editors rarely get attention, but they often play a large role in the success of the overall publication. This job generally requires an editor to do the following:

  • Curate and acquire chapters for inclusion
  • Read, edit, and write content so that it is correct and understandable to the reader and follows a CONSISTENT form throughout the publication
  • Verify facts cited in material for publication
  • Know and follow APA format consistently (or other House Style as indicated for that particular publication)
  • Work with the chapter authors to develop content in keeping with the publication's style, tense, tone, format (pull quotes, sidebars, bulleted lists, etc.) and editorial policy
  • Maintain good working relationships with authors and other key staff such as production, editorial assistants, proofreaders, graphics artists, and marketing personnel
  • Keep track of scheduled dates to ensure the manuscript publishes on time. Ensure that authors do the same.
  • Respond in a timely fashion to questions from production, editorial assistants, proofreaders, graphics artists, and marketing personnel, and serve as the point of contact for questions/issues that may arise
  • Ensure that artwork deemed necessary to the content of a chapter is appropriate for inclusion and follows all copyright claims
    • 1) submitted as a separate, independent file (.jpg, .tiff, .eps) in high resolution (300 dpi or greater) format, and
    • 2) cleared for use in the publication in perpetuity.  If a graphic is taken from another individual’s work, permission must be secured in writing to allow its use. This includes previously published charts, graphs, quotes, excerpts, photographs, etc.  AMTA makes every effort to follow both the letter and the spirit of copyright law
  • If an index is to be included, provide a complete list of index words that should be included (there is no need, however, to identify the page number where those words appear)
  • If a glossary is to be included, provide both the list of items in the glossary and definitions for each
  • Send completed book manuscript in as close to final form as possible to final copyeditor and desktop publisher
  • Review final “galley” proof and check manuscript for any issues or concerns
  • Work with AMTA national office to promote the book by submitting content for both print and online announcements

Responsibilities of Authors

  • Authors should be prepared to assimilate all of the tasks above into their own personal writing
  • If the manuscript is authored by more than one individual, a lead author should be identified among all the authors for communication and final decisions concerning tasks listed above.

What Book Editors and/or Authors Do Not Do

  • Revision. A book editor does not necessary revise a writer’s work, but will suggest revisions for the writer to make. The book editor has final responsibility for the content of each author’s chapter(s) and final say over the content of all chapters.  A good working relationship with the authors is essential as well as the ability to make final decisions when content-related differences of opinion arise.  A book editor's responsibilities represent a significant body of work well beyond the collection and referral of chapters for copy editing and layout.
  • Artwork.  Book editors and authors are not required to obtain, develop, or create non-essential artwork for publication design purposes.
  • Cover and Cover Design. Book editors and authors do not create or have final say over layout, publication size, artwork, and cover design, but will be consulted for these tasks
  • Publicity and Promotion. The book editor and author(s) may be asked to provide biographical information and overview text or talking points for use in publicity.  They may also be asked to be to discuss a new publication at events like conferences or via recorded media for online promotion. Tasks associated with publicity are mainly handled by the AMTA office.

Process for Proposing a Publication with AMTA

  • Submit the completed manuscript (or a manuscript proposal) to the AMTA National Office.  The AMTA Board of Director’s publications work group will review and/or send the manuscript to a small group of pre-screeners to inform the Board’s decision to accept the manuscript or not.
  • Once a manuscript has been accepted for publication:
    • Assemble and complete the manuscript.
    • Submit the manuscript to AMTA office
    • Work with final copyeditors, publishers, and graphic designers to send the publication to print
    • Work with marketing to publicize the publication (i.e., write synopsis, author bios, and other short marketing paragraphs as requested)


Beside the overall recognition and prominence a publication brings as well as the satisfaction of contributing important expertise to the growth of the music therapy profession, editors and authors may be eligible to receive:

  • Tax deduction for donation of intellectual property (in accordance with applicable U.S. tas law) after costs are recouped. For more information, inquire at the AMTA National Office.
  • Opportunity to earn Continuing Music Therapy Education (CMTE) Credits available through CBMT or CEU credits through another certifying organization for other book or chapter authorship as per existing standards.
  • AMTA, upon request, can provide formal letters of community service for authors and book editors' contributions for use as part of promotion and tenure portfolios or CV materials.
  • AMTA retains the copyright in perpetuity for all intellectual property donated for publication; however, authors and editors are afforded consideration and may be granted permission to use their own contributions to an AMTA book publication in other places where legally and ethically permissible.  Contact the AMTA Executive Director to discuss the details of such an agreement on a case by case basis.

Thoughts as You Prepare to Edit or Author a Book for Publication with AMTA

Authoring or editing a book is not as simple as writing down your ideas or gathering chapters from other writers. Before attempting to write or edit a book, much thought and planning need to go into what you want the finished product to contribute to the field. Those who are editors of a multi-contributor volume must spend a great deal of time planning and organizing the chapters, even before potential contributors are contacted. The goal is to publish a cohesive work, one in which the chapters follow similar guidelines, even if the content in various chapters presents different views.


The book as a whole must be a cohesive, coherent product that addresses an overarching theme. In addition to thinking about the overall organization of the desired content, an editor or author must spend some time thinking about how the individual chapters are to be structured. Perhaps each one should address a particular research question and provide information that fits into a structure of certain headings. Decide on the information you want each chapter to present, making sure that the chapters flow one to the next and are similar in the way the information is organized. Provide contributors a structure for their chapter, maybe even suggested headings, so they know the type of content they should include as they write.


Prepare a list of general areas that you want to see covered in each chapter. As the first drafts come in, you need to carefully read through each one, looking at content and the way it is presented in the chapter, comparing it to the list you have prepared. As an editor, you need to make suggestions if there are areas that you want the author to revise. As you accumulate chapters, your responsibility is also to make sure there is not a great deal of duplication in chapter content, so in some cases you may need to delete or summarize briefly the content that has been presented earlier in the book, making note of which chapters deal with the content more thoroughly, in order to insert notes in the text to the reader.


Give contributing authors specific deadlines for various stages of their chapters. Provide authors with firm deadlines for drafts and make it clear that they will need to respond in a timely manner when you have questions for them. Be prepared to eliminate a chapter (or find an alternative author) if deadlines are being ignored by the contributor. To help with organization and deadlines, keep a master checklist of the various stages of the manuscript editing process and mark when each step has been completed. Don’t hesitate to contact authors frequently who are lagging behind deadlines.


Once an author has agreed to write a chapter, provide a sheet explaining the accepted formatting style for the book (in most cases, APA). All citations, references, and tables/figures should follow this style. You may wnat to provide examples or an electronic template to show how these should be set up. If the chapters deviate from this style, either the editor or the author will need to correct the areas that do not conform to APA. Use consistent margins (generally 1-inch default) throughout, and use the same typeface and font size throughout, except perhaps for figures and for tables, which can be a smaller font size. Paragraph indentions should be made with a tab, not the space bar. Before submitting the entire manuscript (all chapters at once) to the copy editor, prepare a checklist to use for each chapter, checking for consistency in spacing (single, double) of text, font, table/figure numbering, correct heading levels, etc.


Most textbooks make judicious use of headings. Determine how you will present at least five levels of headings before you begin editing individual chapters. Provide a template to all authors of this so they can follow it to make editing easier. Do not skip levels if a chapter has fewer heading levels. For example, a chapter with 3 levels will use levels 1, 2, and 3 (not 1, 3, and 5). This way the headings throughout the book will be consistent. The typesetter may change the appearance of each one, but this consistency will enable him/her to know the correct level for each heading. Sometimes it is helpful to create a table of contents for each chapter to get an overview of the various heading levels within a chapter.


A table is generally any information that is presented in rows and columns. Use Microsoft Word’s table feature to create your tables, rather than using tabs and spaces to align text. Be certain all tables are consistent in format throughout the book. Also, be certain they fit within the left and right margins. Decide on a numbering sequence and follow it, changing the numbers the authors have used, if necessary, to conform to your overall numbering system plan. For edited volumes, each chapter usually begins with Table 1 and follows consecutive numbering till the end of the chapter. Typically, the text must mention “Table 1,” for example, before that table appears on the page. An internal reference to each table, by number, also alerts the typesetter where to place the table.


All other Information that is not a table (i.e., presented in rows and columns) is a “figure.” (In APA, “chart” or “graph” Is not used as a visual feature.) Numbering should follow the same pattern as tables, typically beginning with “Figure 1” for the first figure and sequentially in each chapter. Figures also need to be mentioned in the text before they appear. Most figures should be saved as images/pictures (.jpg is common but some other files types like .tiff or .epg are acceptable) before importing them into Word. This will aid in manipulation on the page as one piece, rather than resizing individual elements of the figure. All images must be high resolution, preferable 300 dpi, to ensure good print quality. If images are not high resolution, then it is the editor’s responsibility to secure high resolution images from the author of the chapter and do so in a timely manner. Any copyrighted material used will most likely require permission from the publisher or image illustrator to reprint in your book.  Secure all copyright permissions in writing when an image is used from another source or illustrator who is not the author of the chapter and send this information as well as the graphics files (.jpg, .tiff, .eps, etc.) in a separate file along with the completed manuscript.

Block quotations

Decide on a formatting style you want to use for these, and be consistent throughout the book. Alerted authors as to how to format block quotes (which are quotes 40 words or more), or be prepared to fix these quotes. The typesetter may change the style of these, but the final manuscript should be submitted with consistency in formatting. Generally, you can indent the entire block one-half inch on the left (no hard returns or tabs, please) and single space the quote. APA requires a page number in parentheses at the end of quotations (blocked or in quotation marks).


As editor, you need to check every in-text citation in the chapter against the provided reference list. All citations should be checked for accuracy. For edited volumes, references may appear at the end of each chapter. It is easiest to print out the references and then check them off as you find citations in the text. While you are checking them, look closely at the spelling of authors’ names and the year. Any discrepancies will need to be researched, either by the editor or the author. All citations must be included in the references, and references that are not cited in the chapter should be deleted. If references are missing, it is the editor’s responsibility to contact the author and request those references by a set deadline. If references appear with a hanging indent (rather than flush left at the margin), be sure the author has used the hanging indent feature in Word and this should be consistent across all references in the book. There should not be a hard return at the end of each line and a tab at the beginning of subsequent lines. If you receive a manuscript like this from an author, the editor can either ask the author to fix it or correct the formatting before sending the final chapter to the copy editor.


Whether you are a single author or a volume editor, your book needs to have consistency throughout. This means that terms should be used in the same way throughout the entire work. For example, will you use “health care” or “healthcare”? Is “Iso Principle” capitalized or not? Many of these areas are subjective, so if there is no definitive answer, you make a decision on how you want to use it throughout and follow that for every instance of usage in every chapter. It is easiest to make a list or grid (alphabetically) of terms and how you want them spelled, hyphenated, capitalized, etc., and refer to your list whenever you encounter another instance of that term in subsequent chapters. As an author or editor, it is your responsibility to ensure that language is consistently used throughout the manuscript. Editors need to read each submission carefully and make revisions to the text to ensure consistency in the writer’s tone, verb tense, and word usage, for example.

Other Editorial Tasks

Once the chapters are received, edited by the author or editor, and ready to go to the copy editor, you may want to contribute your own additions to make the book a cohesive unit. For example, you may want to add questions at the end of each chapter for the reader’s consideration. You may want to compile a list of abbreviations or a glossary. You may also need to compile a list of terms that can be used to generate a general index, if desired. You also should collect a short bio for each contributor to be included in the front material. Finally, it may be helpful to you and the typesetter to prepare a table of contents listing each chapter and author(s).  If an index is desired for the book, you will need to prepare a list of terms to be included in the index.  It is not necessary to cite the page number where each term appears, the typesetter will do that after final layout is complete, but you will need to decide on a consistent way for listing terms, definitions (e.g., music, definition of), and names (e.g. Gaston, E. Thayer vs. Gaston, E. T.).  If your index includes phrases that aren’t written exactly the same each time or a large piece of text (i.e., easily found by an electronic “find” feature in most computer software packages), you will need to cite in what chapter and where in that chapter the indexed term appears.  If a glossary is desire for the book, a list of terms and their definitions should be provided, keeping in mind that different authors may be defining the same term in different ways, so that should be explored and a decision should be made for consistency.

Other Considerations

Bear in mind that there are many factors that affect the time necessary to complete a book project. Clearly, the number of chapters can influence the time needed to finish, as well as the number of contributors involved. The more chapters and authors you have, the lengthier the process becomes. Having a co-editor (or two) can also extend the time needed. If you are working with another editor or author, you must clearly determine the tasks that each person will complete. Simply dividing up the book into equal sections can be problematic in terms of consistency and coherence if the editors have not communicated a clear and specific set of styles and expectations for the final product. All editors should read the entire manuscript and make notes of what revisions should be made, then discuss those changes with the others. Delays can also be caused by waiting until you have more time in the summer, as many people are not available to “take your call.”  Other factors that can extend the project are additional features such as a detailed index or a correlated website. Those can be time-consuming to create and gather information but also need to be considered from the beginning as a part of the final project, with expectations and consistent format for content. Before beginning a book project, have a realistic idea of how much time it will actually take from start to finish. Once you have completed the manuscript, it will then go to a copy editor, and then to a typesetter, and you can be assured that there will be many questions and bumps along the way before the final printed edition is completed.  Editors (or authors, where there is not an editor) will see final “galley pages” before the book goes to a printer, but most of the questions, concerns, and edits should have been done well before this part of the process and remember that any changes to galley pages at this stage can affect the entire layout and paginations of the book, requiring a large part or all of the typesetting to be re-created.

In summary, editors of multi-author volumes are responsible for gathering chapters from selected contributors and making sure deadlines are adhered to. But they also are responsible for editing the entire manuscript—multiple times—for content, consistency, style, etc., to ensure the book is a cohesive work, rather than just a collection of essays. It is not an easy task, but attention to the various aspects of your book, as described above, will result in a cleaner draft for the copy editor and typesetter, and will vastly improve the overall quality and marketability of the book.

Website References with Other Guidelines for Consideration