The Benefits of Copyediting for Self Published Authors

Every author, whether self-publishing or traditional publishing, needs an editor. Even authors who work as editors need another editor to review their manuscripts because they know their own writing too well to view it objectively. When you’re too familiar with your own work,  your eye naturally skips over typos and errors. Hiring a copyeditor ensures that all those easy to  make errors are caught.

Additionally, storytelling and expression are different skills from language mechanics. You may be a brilliant storyteller but lack expertise in formatting, punctuation, and book style: That’s where editing comes in. Your editor cleans up the details, while you focus on the creative aspects of your work.

Also, copyeditors look for more than just grammar and spelling errors. They are experts in different styles, such as Chicago style and AP style, and they look for consistency and adherence to style guidelines in your manuscript. If you want your book to be viewed as professional, it must meet the appropriate style guidelines.

When hiring a copyeditor, it is important to note that there are different levels and styles of editing. Basic copyediting is a good choice for many authors, but there are more in-depth editing services available as well. Stay tuned for my upcoming posts explaining the different levels of copyediting.

I’d love to know, why do you plan to hire a copyeditor?

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in   sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services   for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department   is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants;   together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the   book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your   career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist   seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you   on the right path.

The Difference Between AP and Chicago Style

In order for your book to appear professional, you must maintain a consistent style throughout your manuscript. When I say “style,” I am referring to elements such as spelling, grammar, and punctuation. There are several different styles used by various types of publications, but the two most common are AP and Chicago. Which style you follow depends on what you are writing. For instance, AP is often used by newspapers while Chicago is preferred by book publishers. Here is a breakdown of just a few of the differences between AP and Chicago style.

Since AP style is often used by newspapers, there is an emphasis on saving space and time. For instance, AP style requires you to spell out numbers one through nine and to use numerals thereafter. Chicago, on the other hand, has you spell out numbers one through ninety-nine. Another major difference is the use of the serial comma: AP style does not use the serial comma while Chicago style does. Of course, many publications also create in-house style guides that make exceptions to the preferred style manual. For instance, if a publication uses AP style but wishes to use the serial comma, it can add this exception to its in-house style guide.

Since there are so many differences between AP and Chicago style, it is best to focus on learning the style you plan to use. There is no need to learn all of the other styles if you aren’t using them. Also, it is beneficial to hire a copyeditor to check for style consistencies. Copyeditors are highly skilled in a specific or numerous styles, and they have been trained to look for various errors that are common in manuscripts. Even the best writers can benefit from the eye of a good copyeditor.

I’d love to know, which style do you prefer: Chicago or AP?

ABOUT WENDY STETINA: Wendy Stetina is a sales and marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the printing and publishing industry. Wendy works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; and together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction, or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Wendy Stetina can put you on the right path.

What Book Reviewers Look For

Book reviews are a great way to boost your credibility and market your self-published book. However, a bad review can ruin your reputation and potentially damage your book’s success. So what do book reviewers look for in a good self-published book? Here is the answer.

Book reviewers aren’t just considering your plot or characters. They look at EVERYTHING, including the content, cover, grammar, writing style, plot, characterization, flow, clarity, consistency, and more. This is just another reason that hiring a professional editor is so important. You may have a great story, but a poorly edited book can result in a poor book review.

It is also important to remember that most books should follow the Chicago Manual of Style rules. These may differ from the rules your learned in school or see in newspapers and magazines. Book reviewers are often aware of these style issues and look from them in your book. If your book is not consistent with this style, it may be perceived as unprofessional.

Don’t worry. You don’t need to be an expert in Chicago style, although you should be familiar with it. If you want your book to appear professional, hire a professional copyeditor who is trained in Chicago style. You can find an editor online, through references, or through your self-publishing company.

 

ABOUT WENDY STETINA: Wendy Stetina is a sales and marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the printing and publishing industry. Wendy works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; and together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction, or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Wendy Stetina can put you on the right path.

Self-publishing Advice Guest Post: The Book Doctor on Chicago Manual or AP

Q: My company is contemplating changing from using the Chicago Manual of Style to AP Style. What are the differences between the two styles?

A: It’s a shame your company may shift away from Chicago Style. I’ve used both styles, and Chicago Style, preferred by book publishers, makes more sense to me. It relies mostly on clarity.

AP Style, created for periodical publishers, evolved from the fact that newspapers and magazines needed to save space, and, in my opinion, it sometimes leads to less clarity.

AP says to write out the numbers one through nine and to use numerals thereafter. Chicago Style says to write out the numbers one through one hundred and use numerals thereafter. AP Style abbreviates states, and it does not use the same abbreviations as postal carriers use. AP does not use a serial comma (red, white and blue), whereas Chicago Style does (red, white, and blue). Of course there are hundreds of other differences as well.

Your best bet is to read through the Associated Press Stylebook, which is much smaller and less expensive than the Chicago Manual of Style, plus it is laid out alphabetically, which differs from the numerical listings in the Chicago Manual of Style. You will probably find AP Style is easy to learn.

What’s your question for book doctor Bobbie Christmas, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing, and owner of Zebra Communications? Send question to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at www.zebraeditor.com.

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Self-publishing Manuscript Submission Tip

When I was in college, several of my less disciplined associates found a sly tactic in composing essays and papers in the Courier font face. Courier allowed them to reach the assignment’s minimum page count with significantly less actual characters or words than with a font like Times New Roman.

The reason being that Courier is a monospaced font, which gives the visual impression similar to what we were used to seeing in copy created on a typewriter, which was the result of mechanical limitations. Monospaced copy simply means that each character requires the same amount of horizontal space on a page. A period the same space as a W.

This paragraph is in Courier, a monospaced font.
Notice how all the characters take up the same
amount of space and line up in columns.

The unfortunate and universal result of the typewriter and monospaced fonts is the nasty habit of placing two spaces between sentences. Not only a visual eyesore, the practice is wrong according to our experts at the APA, MLA, and Chicago Manual of Style.

With the modern word processor and standard publishing typefaces, your manuscript should have only one space between a punctuation mark and its subsequent character. This one-space rule applies to colons, semi-colons, question marks, quotation marks, exclamation points and all other punctuation.

While potentially a pain, the time spent revising to this standard is worth your effort. Be sure to also check for hard returns before submitting to your self-publishing option for review.


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Have fun and keep writing.

Self-publishing Writing Tip: Ask the Book Doctor on Quotions

Q: I have a question about quotation marks. I know the punctuation goes inside the quotation marks when writing dialogue, as in: Ray asked, “What about quotation marks?” What happens when they’re used in titles, though, as in this example: Three very different styles are represented by “Nude Descending a Staircase,” “The Scream,” and “The Mona Lisa.” The punctuation (including the serial comma) doesn’t look right inside the quotation marks. I tried it outside, though, and it looked even less right. Which way is right?

A: The answer is not going to be what you expect. If you are writing a book and correctly following the guidelines set forth in The Chicago Manual of Style, the titles of works of art will be in italics (underlined in manuscript form), rather than in quotation marks, so the punctuation point is moot.



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Bobbie Christmas, book doctor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Visit Bobbie’s blog at http://bobbiechristmas.blogspot.com/. Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at http://www.zebraeditor.com