Category Archives: Editing and Proofreading

Common Formatting Issues in Microsoft Word: Four Easy Tips for Authors

Lynette M. Smith

Basic formatting knowledge will serve you well throughout your writing career. If you perform some types of basic formatting on your manuscript, you’ll not only prevent distractions as you focus on quality writing, but you’ll likely save money too. Here’s why.

Formatting errors and inconsistencies that remain in your manuscript will distract your copyeditor from performing high quality work while reading. A smart copyeditor scrubs (basic-formats) the manuscript before starting to read, but you’re billed for that time. Even if you tell your copyeditor to disregard the formatting, your book-layout professional will have to resolve these problems later on, and you’ll still be billed for that time.

Figure 1

Here are four common manuscript-formatting issues and how you can address them.

1. First-Line Paragraph Indents

The wrong way: Use the tab key or type a series of blank spaces.

The right way to change only one paragraph indent: Go to the Paragraph window (see Figure 1), click the down arrow, and select First line from the resulting pull-down menu. Then use the vertical arrows to select your preferred amount of indent (either the 0.5” default or something smaller, such as 0.3”, or manually type in a more precise measurement, such as 0.25”).

Figure 2

The right way to change all paragraphs that use the Normal style: Click on the Home ribbon tab. Right-click the Normal style and select Modify to open the Modify Style window (see Figure 2). Here, you can customize the font and font size, and many other options.

When you click the Format button in the lower left corner of that window, you’ll see a pull-down menu with several options; left-click on Paragraph, and the familiar Paragraph window will appear; there you can select First line indent and the amount of indent, plus change other settings, like type of Justification (left vs. full), line spacing, points of extra space below each Normal paragraph, etc. When you finish customizing the settings in the Paragraph window, click OK to return to the Modify Style window.

Once back in the Modify Style window, make sure the radio-button “Only in this document” (located just above the Format button) is selected; then click OK to close the Modify Style window.

Note: In your document later on, you can override this indent for an individual paragraph, such as the first paragraph of a chapter or the first paragraph after a hiatus in a novel. Simply click once in that paragraph, access the regular Paragraph window, and change “First line” to “None.”

Figure 3

2. Spacing between Sentences and Words and after Colons

The wrong way: Type two spaces between sentences, after colons, or anywhere else.

The right way: When you finish your final draft, go to the far right-hand side of the Home ribbon tab and click Replace (within the Editing section) to open the Find and Replace window (see Figure 3). In the “Find what” box, type two spaces (press the space bar twice). In the “Replace with” box, type one space (press the space bar once). Then click Replace All, as circled in Figure 3. Repeat as needed until no occurrences of two spaces remain. (This process also corrects the accidental typing of two spaces between a pair of words.)

Figure 4

3. Horizontal Centering of Titles

The wrong way: Use a combination of spaces and tabs to horizontally center text.

The right way: Left-click once anywhere on the line or paragraph or graphic you wish to center. Then, on the Home ribbon tab, click the icon circled in Figure 4 to center what you’ve selected.

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4. Starting a New Page

The wrong way: Press the Enter key repeatedly until the desired text is forced to the top of the next page. The problem with this technique is that, if you later insert or delete text on an earlier page, then the line of text you intended for the top of the new page with will have moved either further down the page or to the bottom of the previous page, forcing you to spend extra time making adjustments—and you’ll likely have to adjust every subsequent chapter too!

The right way: Instead of inserting all those blank lines, insert a manual page break between chapters and/or sections. Here’s how: At the end of your chapter or other major section where you want to begin a new page, strike Control-Enter to insert the manual page break. Your cursor will then be at the top of the next page, where you can type your next chapter heading and content.

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When you follow these tips, your formatting will be clean and easy to work with, you can focus better on quality writing, and you can reduce your costs for copyediting and book layout.

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Lynette M. Smith works with book authors on their manuscript copyediting and book-layout proofreading in her long-established business, All My Best Copyediting and Heartfelt Publishing (AllMyBest.com). She is also the published author of the popular 40-page handbook, 80 Common Layout Errors to Flag When Proofreading Book Interiors, as well as the award-winning comprehensive reference book, How to Write Heartfelt Letters to Treasure: For Special Occasions and Occasions Made Special. Contact Lynette through her copyediting website, publishing website, or email , and follow her on LinkedIn and Facebook.

© Lynette M. Smith 2017

Finding Forrester

Michael LaRocca of MichaelEdits.com

The existence of a movie — any movie — about the topic of writing is surprising enough. But for it to actually be a good movie? Wow.

I taught Advanced English Writing in several universities in China from 2002 through 2006. Showing this movie became an integral part of those classes, because so many of its themes are identical to what I was trying to teach. I was happy to watch it over a dozen times with my students, and lecture about it in a style more Robin Williams than F. Murray Abraham.

But all these years later, will I still think it’s a good movie? Let’s find out.

We begin by meeting Jamal, the student who hides his intelligence in order to fit in. Fair enough.

Jamal is also a writer who hides his writing. Do they still exist?

Sean Connery is William Forrester, the reclusive genius of a writer.

Jamal is writing all the time. By hand. He’s constantly practicing his basketball. He’s constantly practicing his writing. That’s how a person gets to be the best he’s able to be at either pursuit. Or any pursuit. So if you’re not writing every day, listen to Sean Connery and Rob Brown. Write every day. You’re never going to write like Shakespeare or shoot hoops like Michael Jordan, but if you write every day, you’ll get better at it than you are now. Unused potential is worse than lack of potential, because the former is a choice.

Jamal and Forrester are both obsessed with reading. As writers must be. Jamal snoops in Forrester’s shelves both to learn about him and for suggestions. I already know you’re reading every day. Aren’t you? How many times have I said it? If you don’t enjoy reading, you can’t write something that somebody else enjoys reading.

Jamal: “You read all these?” 
Forrester: “No, I keep them to impress all my visitors.”

Amusing because Forrester’s an agoraphobe whose only visitor is the guy bringing his royalty checks and his groceries. (Wouldn’t you love to be an author living well on royalty checks for something you wrote 30 years ago?) But also a chance for me to riff on people who keep all the books they’ve ever read shelved at home. You know how much I love the written word. But Goodreads tells me that in the past three years alone I’ve read over 1000 books. Why would I keep them? I’m not going to read them all again. (Just the five-star books.) I do love a library, but I choose not to own one. I know where they are.

Jamal gets his writing notebooks back from “Window,” that strange old dude who we don’t know is Sean Connery because we haven’t seen his picture on every movie poster ever made. And what has this man of mystery added to the notebooks? Honest feedback. It’s not all kind. Not even close, actually. Brutally honest. That’s what we all need. And if we’re mature, it’s also what we want, because this helps us improve. Jamal’s first reaction was negative, but the next day, he’s knocking on the door. He says: “I was wondering if I could bring you more of my stuff.”

Finally, Jamal reads a book by Forrester. When Forrester gets the book back, he says, “Christ, you’ve dog-eared one of them. Show a little respect for the author.” I say screw the author. Have a little respect for the next reader. Don’t vandalize your books.

In the film, Forrester wrote one book. It won a Pulitzer. He reacted to a mix of critical praise and personal tragedy by not publishing another one. I don’t think you have to be an author to enjoy the pot shots he takes at critics.

Forrester: “I know what it is. The last thing I need is another person telling me what they think it is.”

I know the feeling.

Forrester: “Critics spend a day destroying what they couldn’t create in a lifetime.”

True.

Jamal: “What’s it feel like?” 
Forrester: “What?” 
Jamal: “Writing something the way you did.” 
Forrester: “Perhaps you’ll find out.”

I like that little exchange because, while I remember what it felt like to write at my very best, I’ll be damned if I can explain it to you. Write your own books and you’ll find out for yourself.

Jamal: “Did you ever read your own writing?” 
Forrester: “In public? Hell no. I barely read it in private.”

I used to say things like that all the time. But I did finally reread all fourteen of my published books last year. In private. Not bad, Michael. Not bad at all. Oh, and they’re better “inside proper covers and everything,” just like the author’s wife noted in the second Robert Galbraith novel. Don’t act like she’s weird for waiting.

[It’s eighteen books now. When the hell did I write this movie review?]

Forrester: “A lot of writers know the rules about writing, but they don’t know how to write.”

We know it’s true. But let me add that the writers who don’t even know the rules are screwed. You need not obey the rules. But you do need to know them. I break writing rules all the time, but never out of simple ignorance.

Clever dialogue about starting a sentence with a conjunction. Who knew such things were possible?

Forrester just sits at a manual typewriter and immediately starts writing. Jamal likes to think first. So do I. Hell, I’ve even used an outline once or twice. Also, I start with pen and paper or (more often) computer keyboard. Not a typewriter.

Forrester: “No thinking — that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is… to write, not to think!”

I’ve used freewriting in class and given it a spot in my textbook. It’s a good technique, and I’ve seen a lot of students surprise themselves with the results. But I’ve also never written anything publishable that way. Blogable, perhaps. I do agree with the heart/head thing, of course.

Using other authors for inspiration can be a complex issue. Plain old stealing is wrong, but even the most original thinkers seek inspiration. The movie finally moves its dramatic conflict into high gear by examining all that. It was probably a bit predictable the first time I watched it. It was certainly predictable the fifteenth or twentieth time I watched it. But it still works. It’s still powerful, moving, and five-star all the way.

Enjoy!

Technical editing since 1991. Business editing since 2006. MichaelEdits.com

© Michael LaRocca 2017

9 Things Star Trek Can Teach You About Writing

Michael LaRocca of MichaelEdits.com

1) Readers Matter

In the first STAR TREK film, Gene Roddenberry finally had the budget to create all the footage he wanted of ENTERPRISE just sitting there, looking real purty, and by gum he was gonna use it. While I don’t mind watching all those minutes, 22 or 187 or whatever it was, most folks think that’s too much. If most of your readers say something needs to be changed or added or deleted, listen to them.

2) Characters Matter

When the second pilot was filmed, it was pre-ordained that William Shatner was the star. Since Spock was the only character from the first pilot to also appear in the second pilot, it was safe to assume Leonard Nimoy was a costar. McCoy and the chemistry just kinda happened.

When I write, character comes first, and plot etc. unfold from there. Even if you start from some other place, character always matters. Nothing happens unless it happens to somebody, and that somebody is who your reader cares about regardless of species.

When you write, have some sort of plan, and have some control, but be flexible. If your story’s telling you to go in a certain direction, listen to it. That might be your characters talking to you. (And yes, I know you made them all up. Don’t bother me with details.)

3) Turn Weaknesses into Strengths

Why did the ENTERPRISE have a transporter? Because it wasn’t in the TV show’s budget to film launch and landing sequences for shuttlecraft on various and sundry new planets every week. This forced the writers to invent the transporter, and that’s some seriously cool tech. STAR TREK wouldn’t be STAR TREK without it.

4) Forget Grammar

Okay, not really. Spock used English with scientific precision and it wasn’t even his first language. Speaking as your editor, please don’t forget grammar. You can break any rule you want if you have a good reason. Never break a rule from ignorance. But if you’ve got a reason, go for it. That’s how we as authors change the language.

Why did Shakespeare invent 10% of the words he used? Because if he’d invented 20% or 50% he’d have confused too many of his viewers.

Meanwhile, the “rule” about splitting infinitives is totally bogus. “To boldly go” is a perfectly good English phrase. In Latin, it isn’t possible to split an infinitive because “to go” (for example) is one word. You can’t write “to boldly go” in Latin because “to go” is only one word. Someone decided English grammar should follow Latin grammar — that sounds like some of Noah Webster’s rubbish — and was soundly shouted down for being too stupid to live. Feel free to boldly split infinitives like James Brown split tight pants. Then jump back and kiss yourself.

5) Wishful Thinking Is Allowed

In the STAR TREK future, everybody quotes long passages of Shakespeare from memory. If I say it like that, it might sound hard to believe, but in the context of the STAR TREK world, it fits. It’s allowed. Dagnabbit, people should quote Shakespeare from memory. I taught a customer’s cockatiel to recite Hamlet’s soliloquy without warning the humans. I never could teach him context, though.

6) It’s Not About the Money

Okay, sometimes it was about the money. But in roughly two years of the original show and roughly ten years of Next Generation, it wasn’t about the money. In most of the films, including some of the stinkers, it wasn’t about the money.

I’ve always said that you should write what you’d like to read, then find readers who share your interests. Yep, that’s what Gene Roddenberry did. He believed in world peace, racial and gender integration, trying to shake off old prejudices to the best of our limited abilities, freedom of religion and non-religion, true equality for women rather than today’s lip service, gay rights, cooperation rather than killing, the Prime Directive of non-interference in viable developing cultures, war as a last and not a first resort, and seeing just how much political and religious commentary he could slip past the censors, who weren’t as bright as the average STAR TREK viewer. (I like to think the censors weren’t always as clueless as they pretended to be.)

7) Choose Your Battles

That’s what Roddenberry had to do every time he butted heads with TV executives. It’s what I do as an author when I disagree with my editor, and what I expect an author to do when I’m his or her editor. “I’ll say Starfleet pays its officers in credits if you let the white guy kiss the black girl.” Or whatever.

8) YOU Are The Writer

Remember when I said to listen to your readers? That doesn’t mean you have to always agree with them. When Gene Roddenberry’s vision put him at odds with the majority, he went with his vision. We should all do that. Such judgment calls are what separate the great writers from the merely ordinary. And to pull all that off within the confines of a 1960s TV show is nothing short of extraordinary. You could do far worse than to follow his example.

9) Posterity Matters

How long has it been since Captain Kirk first flexed those biceps and paused in funny places during his speechifying? It’s been over 50 years since Roddenberry started writing STAR TREK, and we’re still talking about it. That’s what we write for. I don’t want you to love my writing now and forget it tomorrow. A novel is not a blog or a tweet. Write something timeless. Something to annoy future generations the way it does your immediately family, something teachers can torture students with, something that just will not die.

Technical editing since 1991. Business editing since 2006. MichaelEdits.com

© Michael LaRocca 2017

Do You Really Have What It Takes to Write a Book?

Jeannette DiLouie

So you wrote a book? Congratulations! That’s amazing.

But do you really have what it takes? Are you a good enough writer to reach the audience you want without making a fool out of yourself? How do you actually know your writing is worthwhile?

Those are questions every single writer wonders at least from time to time no matter how many books he or she has written. Sometimes they pop into our heads on their own. Other times, they grow from a single negative review we get on Amazon or GoodReads or maybe in person.

In those cases, it doesn’t matter how many compliments we’ve gotten and how many positive reviews we’ve received. Our personal doubts or outside critiques – constructive or otherwise – can cut through our egos like chainsaws through butter.

The resulting mess is time-consuming to clean up, to say the least.

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But guess what? You have, in fact, written a book! So clearly you do have what it takes. You put in the time and effort necessary to start, continue and finish your manuscript. So the question you should be asking yourself isn’t whether you have what it takes. You need to switch gears completely by focusing not on approval so much but improvement.

What you really need to be asking is: How do I strengthen my current book or my next novel or my writing style in general?

Because there’s always room for improvement. Always. And it doesn’t matter whether you’ve just completed your first manuscript or you’re on your 25th. We writers never perfect our craft, only strengthen it.

Fortunately for us, there are a number of great ways to grow, mainly by seeking out other people’s opinions and advice. This could be by:

Finding a writers’ critique group: Just about anywhere you look, there are writing communities to be found. One might be offered through your local church or synagogue, on meetup.com, or perhaps posted on Craigslist. And if for some reason you can’t find one in any of those hotspots, then consider starting one up yourself! After all, if you build it, they could come.

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Getting a writing buddy: While it’s always nice to get multiple opinions about your work, a writing buddy has the potential to be more consistent than a writers’ group. With the latter, you might be able to submit a chapter every six weeks, whereas with a writing buddy, you could be swapping story segments every 10 days or less. Just be careful if you go this route that you’re getting just as much as you’re giving. There are some very selfish writing buddies out there that you need to be on guard against.

Getting beta readers: Beta readers are great resources to utilize if you know how to find them. These are random reviewers out there on the internet who will critique your manuscript for free. Though – warning – some of them can be pretty harsh. You asked them for their opinion, and believe me, they’re going to give it to you. While you can simply send out social media requests for beta readers if you’re up for this route, you can also find them on organized sites such as Wattpad and Scribofile.

Hiring an editor: Depending on how thorough of an edit you want, you can hire an editor for anywhere from $15 an hour to $4,000 for your whole manuscript. $15 an hour is going to get you a speed-read edit, so if that’s all you can afford, you’re probably better off just going with beta readers or a writing buddy instead. Though that’s not to say the $4,000 option is worthwhile either, since that usually gets you a read-through with grammatical and spelling corrections, plus a summarized edit. Try going for something on the cheaper side of the middle instead ($25-$35 an hour). And regardless, make sure to ask your editor what you’re going to get out of that investment in return.

One quick note about that last statement: When I say to make sure you know what you’re getting out of an edit, what I mean is to ask lots of questions.

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Will they be using track changes? Will they be adding in comments? Will they be looking for plot pitfalls as well as spelling and grammar? Are they going to look line by line, or are they simply critiquing the big picture?

For example, when I edit someone’s book manuscript, I take a holistic approach. That means I’m looking to make sure the dialogue is convincing, that details mesh together, characters are believable and the story flows well from paragraph to paragraph. So my clients get a thorough edit from start to finish, complete with a complimentary summary that highlights areas they’ve already sold me on as well as spots that need improvement.

Whatever editor you go with though, make sure you feel comfortable with them before you sign on. Don’t let them pressure you at any point.

And always keep in mind that you really do have what it takes to write a book. The rest is just practice.

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Jeannette DiLouie is the published author of 10 books and counting, and the Chief Executive Editor of Innovative Editing, a full-service editorial business with a special focus on authors and authors-in-the-making. You can find her writing insights and guidance at www.InnovativeEditing.com, and her books on Amazon.com.

© Jeannette DiLouie 2017

How to Create Your Best Novel

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Creating your best novel is a team effort. There is the writing portion which you will do on your own, within the solitude of your imagination and writing room. And then there is the “polishing” portion of the process which is equally important to your success and requires an outside team of professionals for best results.

Writing Your Novel

I’ll start by including one of my absolute favourite quotes about writing by Gary Provost:

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.

Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals—sounds that say listen to this, it is important.

It’s beautiful, isn’t it? It’s like music, as he says. This is the kind of writing that will keep an audience engaged. It not only sings to them; but, with the right combination of vivid adjectives and visceral verbs, it can create such authentic, powerful imagery inside their minds that it keeps them turning the pages for more. That’s what you’re after.

And yet, there’s more to writing your best novel. Two more elements must be considered: character development and plot development. Here are two links that go into great detail regarding these two aspects of writing, so I encourage you to click on both and really take in this advice before sitting down to write your book:

Once your novel is written, now the rest of the team comes into play. The best advice I have for all writers—but especially the ones who plan to self-publish—is to get support. Invest in proper copy editing, graphic design, and proofreading. If you’re serious about book publishing and want to present yourself to the public as a professional author, then these things are so important to your end result.

Polishing Your Novel

The fact is, self-publishers’ books are competing in the marketplace with trade publishers’ books. Trade (traditional) publishers always have their books professionally edited. Always. This is why they can boast such high quality. In light of this, can self-publishers truly afford not to have their work copy edited in the very least? It may seem excessive to some, but it is a necessary investment if that author is serious about publishing and competing in the marketplace.

And no matter how engaging your story may be, the public is going to “judge your book by its cover” before they ever decide to read it. In fact, they’ll judge the interior, too. So, the graphic design of your book—both inside and out—should receive the same professional attention as the content itself. Hiring a professional graphic designer is always better than using a generic template builder.

Last but not least, I highly recommend you also hire a professional proofreader—a different set of eyes from your copy editor—to do the following nine-point check of the final designed book before you self-publish it anywhere:

Interior

• the front matter (such as the table of contents) is accurate and correct
• the back matter (such as the index) is accurate and correct
• headers and footers are accurate and correct
• bad breaks are eliminated
• text is kerned to flow smoothly throughout
• margins and trim size all measure properly
• spelling and punctuation is correct

Cover

• spacing, bleeds, and trim size all measure properly
• spelling and punctuation is correct

These are the steps the traditional (trade) publishers put each and every one of their books through. These are the steps you should also take to create your best novel. This extra attention to detail with make a huge difference in the public perception of your book and your overall success as a result.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Learn at Your Own Pace: Online Courses in Writing, Publishing, and Selling Books

Through Udemy‘s online learning portal, PPG can help you build on your book writing, publishing, and selling skills from the comfort of your home and at your own pace. Here are just four of the courses that can help you with every aspect of your next book project from start to finish:


ONLINE COURSE: Writing A Book: The First Draft


ONLINE COURSE: Writing With Flair: How To Become An Exceptional Writer


ONLINE COURSE: Self-Publishing Success in Bookstores and Online!


ONLINE COURSE: The A-Z Guide That Will Hold Your Hand To Making A
Career Through Blogging And Building A Successful Online Business

Check them out today. Just click on the above pictures to be redirected to the course landing page where you can enroll and start learning immediately. Good luck and enjoy.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

New Author Ash Borodin Discusses the Writing and Editing Process

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First and foremost, I want to thank Ash Borodin and his editor, Elisa, for providing this unique guest post about the writing and editing processes for the PPG Publisher’s Blog. I smiled all the way through the below dialog and found myself nodding “yes” through much of it.

The creative process of writing a book takes on many different forms, as Ash discusses below, and the editing/ghostwriting processes require much patience and collaboration between two willing participants…

The editing/writing process

My name’s Ash and my debut novel is called The Jealous Flock. It’s about the parallel lives of unique individuals struggling to define their values and identity in relation to the major culture clash(es) the world is experiencing right now.

My name’s Elisa and I edited the Jealous Flock…

Ash: Everything I do is experimental, including this interview (which we are collaborating on live through Google Docs). I can imagine I’m an editor’s worst nightmare…

Elisa: Yes, you can say that again.

Ash: Can you elaborate on that… On second thought, actually don’t. Well, give us a rough idea of one of the challenges.

Elisa: Well for starters, having the chapters written in no particular order, so I couldn’t really make sense of the story. And using speech to text didn’t always give the words you intended, so I had to guess what they might be.

Ash: Ah, yes, I’d forgotten about that. I think I had this general master plan in my head for what the final book should be but I had no idea how to weave it all together. So initially it was more just a bunch of short stories. And then I gradually wrote some bridging stories to connect the others and from there more changes had to be made. It really was a mess. I still think it was a pretty good mess, from my point of view, it was like a band improvising, each person takes a solo and the others fit in and react.

Elisa: I also found it strange to read when it was initially in present tense, and I told you it sounded like a play.

Ash: Well, in a sense it was. And when you said that, I thought – alright I’ll make it a play then. But that was more stubbornness than resolve on my part. I think it could easily be adapted to work as a screenplay and that’s something I keep in the back of my mind if the opportunity ever arises.

Elisa: I think it might lack the beautiful descriptions you have put into the writing though, and perhaps make it more bland.

Ash: Yeah, and in part it was vanity that spurred me on to rewrite the whole thing in past tense. I didn’t want to lose my poetic vision, my voice. But finding some way between the two extremes was a real challenge for me as a writer, this being my debut novel especially. Because I wrote a lot of it live – I method acted the lines through a voice-recorder – it had that zeal, the immediacy you only get from the spoken word and some of the intimacy of conversation. To then put that into past tense, well it felt like prostitution of my passion at first. I was really adverse to it.

Now I tell people the importance of having an active reader (or an editor, really) from the beginning. Because writing is one thing, but storytelling is really a higher level of writing and that involves connecting, relating to your audience.

Elisa: Yes, it is, but it’s a hell of a difficult thing to try and convince an author that he needs to make a change like this. Authors really don’t like criticism of any kind.

Ash: Not naming any names, of course….

Elisa: None at all. And by the way, just so people know, I’m editing your writing as we speak. That’s why there are no spelling mistakes.

Ash: Ha! What people don’t know is that you just wrote ‘smelling mistakes’ and I saw it!

Elisa: Yes, okay, you caught me, but I did fix it immediately.

Ash: I think if we were to work on a book again it would be much easier this time because we’ve both mellowed a lot. For those who came in late, Elisa and I are married. And in the 3 years since we wrote the book we’ve been through a lot personally and as a couple, and I think though we blow up at times under great stress, we are generally able to plan ahead for stress and compartmentalise it a lot better.

Elisa: Sometime a good yelling match is exactly what you need to release it all.

Ash: I know, yesterday’s was great. We called each other unprintable names. A good time was had by all…

Elisa: So, back to editing… another thing that was difficult to get a handle on was that each character used first person, which was really confusing during the editing.

Ash: I think I would do that differently now, but surprisingly no-one’s complained about it yet. Yet….

Elisa: I think it actually works… now.  Now that we have each character’s name in the title of each chapter (thanks to me).

Ash: Yeah that was a necessary evil I was forced to accept as well. I was trying to be so clever in my writing that the reader would intuitively know who the character speaking was – that this was now their perspective. But it was too high a bar for me and maybe an unnecessary bar at that.

Elisa: You can’t expect the reader to do too much work themselves.

Ash: Well that was probably the final thing I relented on. I wanted it to be more work than it eventually was – for the reader. I wanted them to really pay attention like one would with a textbook or work of philosophy. But in the end the need to relate overcame the desire to be very serious.

Ash’s book is available here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01NAPZWB8

https://twitter.com/0rWouldUrather

http://ashleyborodin.weebly.com 

© Ash Borodin 2017

Consistency in Editing Style Guides: The Importance of Balance Between Precision and Simplicity

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Okay. I think there is now enough distance between me and the situation I’m about to discuss here to be able to write a helpful blog post on the topic—one that I genuinely hope is helpful to editors, proofreaders, and authors alike.

Anyone who knows me well knows that one of my biggest pet peeves in this book publishing business is inconsistency in editorial style. I hired my own editors and proofreaders for my first three books. Because I’d self-published these books through different publishers, each book was also edited by a different person as recommended by that company; and, clearly, each of these editors was using a different editorial reference guide because the styles of each of these books is very different.

Long story short, back in 2009, I founded Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and hired an absolutely stellar, experienced team of editors, designers, indexers, proofreaders, copywriters, and you name it, to ensure professional quality for every author who published through my company. I even took the time, with the help of my top editor, to create a PPG Editorial Style Guide that would ensure consistency in how we edited our books combined with a respect for each author’s heritage (i.e. one guide for Canadians, another one for Americans, et cetera).

I took full advantage of this incredible team to help me produce my 2013 book titled How to Publish a Book in Canada . . . and Sell Enough Copies to Make a Profit!; and, while the editorial style used for this book was again different from my first three books, I wasn’t worried. I was so pleased with the end result. I knew this book was not only a helpful guide that could teach authors the important fundamentals of quality book publishing, but it also served as a physical example of the lessons inside. I was thrilled!

The following year, I published the worldwide sequel titled How to Publish a Bestselling Book … and Sell It WORLDWIDE Based on Value, Not Price!. I hired the exact same team to help me produce this book; and I felt at ease with the assumption that finally, at long last, I would see consistency in the editorial style of this book to the one I’d published the previous year. After all, it was the exact same editing and proofreading team at work on what was a very similar book. What could possibly change?

There’s an old adage that one should never “assume” anything because doing so makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me.” This was certainly one of those times.

Once again, my fifth book was edited differently from my first four books. There were many little arbitrary changes made such as altering the spelling of things like “eBook” to “ebook.” There were also changes in the way quotes appeared. For example, in the 2013 book, quotes remained within the same paragraph and were indicated with quotation marks around them; whereas, in the second book, quotes were separated out as their own indented paragraphs without quotation marks around them.

I tried to ignore it. I tried to just brush it off and let it go. But as the weeks went on, my annoyance grew. Why the arbitrary changes? If it was considered correct in the 2013 book, then why did it have to be changed in the 2014 book? What was the point? How was it possible that an editor edited her own edit from one year completely differently the next year? WHY?

Finally, it was bothering me enough that I opened up a dialogue with my editor and proofreader about it. Editors and proofreaders are detail oriented, God bless them; and let’s just say I opened up a flood gate! In their heartfelt attempts to appease me and offer helpful solutions, they both sent me paragraph after paragraph of detailed suggestions that included recommendations of various additional editorial reference guides we might also consider in the future. WHAT? Rather than simplifying things, they seemed to be complicating them even more … at which point, I must admit, I came very close to chewing my own limbs off. They had completely missed the whole point.

We mulled through it together and found what appeared to be an amicable solution. We decided to create individualized, customized editorial style sheets per each author so that at least all the books published by an individual would remain consistent. The agreed upon intent behind these customized guides was simplicity and consistency. The sole purpose of creating such a guide was simply to indicate any deviations the editor may have made from the primary editorial reference guide he or she used to edit the book—of which there should be very few—so that the proofreader could continue with the same style. In other words, from that guide, the proofreader should be able to say, “Okay, I should use the Chicago guide for everything other than ‘such and such a detail’ where the editor deviated from it for these reasons as indicated.” The same editor/proofreader could also use this guide as a reference for future books by the same author so every book by that author was consistent in style.

It sounded like a great idea. It sounded like the perfect solution. Unfortunately, we continue to see inconsistencies in editorial styles due to many seemingly arbitrary and unnecessary changes that are made with probably all the best intentions in the world.

I love these people. I’m incredibly grateful that I met them and have had the chance to work with them for the past four or five years. They make all our books better because of their attention to detail. This is why it has taken me so long to write this blog entry … because it is somewhat a criticism of their techniques that I know will sting a bit.

If there is one bit of advice I want to emphasize most in this blog post, it is this: from the author’s perspective, simplicity and consistency is most important. And that’s who we’re working for here—the author. Yes, authors want their books to be the best that they can be. But too many changes, too many options, and too many ways to do/spell/position the same thing is far too confusing—especially when the changes are unnecessary.

Editors and proofreaders need to learn to balance precision with simplicity. When they are reviewing a manuscript, they need to ask themselves, “Are these changes I’m making really necessary? Or is it already correct the way it is? Would it be okay to leave it alone?” Remember, the more changes you make, the more work you create not only for yourself but also for the author, the designer, and everyone else all along the project time-line. It all adds extra time (and possibly even extra costs) into the project. Is it worth it? Maybe it is. But many times, it isn’t.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2015 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Coming soon to the PPG Publisher’s Blog…

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

I’ll begin by saying there are times when I’m just as guilty as the next person for not keeping up with my blogging. Life gets busy, as it certainly has for the Polished Publishing Group (PPG) as a whole over this past year. All that said, I’m very grateful for all this busy-ness. It means the company is alive and well, and that’s a wonderful thing.

On that note, I have to admit that busy-ness is only part of the issue here. As I learn this new WordPress blogging platform, I also find myself battling far more spam messages than I did through our previous blog provider … over 300 spam messages per week! Yikes! I’m learning which Plugins I need in place in order to combat this type of annoyance; and, once I have this all worked out, I’ll allow for our valued subscribers to begin commenting regularly again. I’ll also be posting more regular entries once again. Thank you in advance for your patience with this. (Life is a constant learning process, isn’t it?)

In any case, you can look forward to these three upcoming blog entries very soon:

And many, many more to come!

In the mean time, there are plenty of old (but still relevant!) blog entries to read through here regarding book reviews, editing, graphic design, indexing, copyright, et cetera; and you can also check out some of my newest sales and marketing advertorials on EzineArticles. Of course, you’re also encouraged to purchase one or both of these insightful books that will answer just about every single question you might ever have regarding how to write, publish, and sell a Book:

How to Publish a Book in Canada … and Sell Enough Copies to Make a Profit!

How to Publish a Bestselling Book … and Sell It Worldwide Based on Value, Not Price!

See you again soon! 🙂

* * *    * * *   * * *

PPG is a professional book publisher dedicated to serving serious-minded authors around the world. Visit our group of websites today:

PPG Book Publishing Website: http://www.polishedpublishinggroup.com/
PPG Publisher’s Blog: http://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com/

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2009 to [current year] Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Change is the Only Constant: Welcome to the New PPG Publisher’s Blog!

Coming soon! Watch for this new book around the world in early August 2014!

Coming soon! Watch for this new book around the world in early August 2014!

First and foremost, thank you to every PPG Publisher’s Blog subscriber for your patience while we transitioned from one blog service provider to another when the former discontinued this particular product from their offering. (Such is life on the Internet.) And hello to all the new subscribers who have joined us here. Glad to have you on board!

While it’s taken me a little while to get back into the swing of things on this blog, not to worry! I haven’t forgotten you; and, in fact, I’ve still been writing much helpful content regarding book publishing, sales, and marketing to help you all succeed with your own books.

As you already know, in 2013 I launched How to Publish a Book in Canada . . . and Sell Enough Copies to Make a Profit! to address the frequently asked questions that are specific to Canadian individuals and businesses that wish to publish their work. This book was (and continues to be) a tremendous learning tool for many—so much so that it became a bestseller on Amazon within its first month and a half and has spawned even more questions from aspiring authors all across North America and even “across the pond” in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. You’ve asked and the Polished Publishing Group (PPG) has listened. Introducing How to Publish a Bestselling Book . . . and Sell It WORLDWIDE Based on Value, Not Price! which has been written for all the aspiring authors and business professionals who wish to produce a book that presents you as professional writers and industry experts within your fields.

Whether you’re writing a fictional novel, a cookbook, or a “how to” book, publishing a book is a business venture. All authors are entrepreneurs. And the first thing every entrepreneur should ask himself or herself is this: do I offer the best value in my field, or do I offer the best price? This is a vitally important question to ask of yourself before you begin the publishing process of your book. Why? Because, if you offer the best value in your field, you need to promote your business (and everything related to it—including your book!), using value-based selling. If you offer the best price, you need to promote your book using price-based selling. Consistency is the key to long-term success no matter what industry you’re in.

This new book, due to be published around the world in early August 2014, contains answers to pretty much every question you could possibly have about how to publish and sell a truly professional-quality book all around the world. Further to that, it contains an elementary introduction to international copyright (graciously written for us by Ian Gibson, Esq., an attorney who is licensed in the State of California) to provide aspiring authors with a solid starting point of reference that answers all of your basic copyright questions and a couple more, including, “How does working with a publisher in another country affect my copyright?”

By the time you’re done reading this book, hopefully you’ll have gained some valuable insight into what it truly takes to produce a saleable book and how to market it to your desired demographic. Better yet, you’ll have all the tools you need to get that book into the hands of those desired customers all around the world, land on a coveted bestseller list in your area, and earn a healthy profit in the process. That is my wish for you.

Sincerely,

Kim Staflund
Founder and publisher of Polished Publishing Group (PPG)

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PPG is a professional book publisher dedicated to serving serious-minded authors around the world. Visit our group of websites today:

PPG Book Publishing Website: http://www.polishedpublishinggroup.com/
PPG Publisher’s Blog: http://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com/

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2009 to [current year] Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.