Tag Archives: Style guide

Give that Publisher What They Want Dernit! – Keep It simple

I am uber stoker to be able to dig into the wild and crazy brain of someone who is out there doing this crazy publishing stuff professionally. When you read this, you’re gonna want to slap yourself silly, because this is hearing it right from someone who does this for a living. For the next few weeks, we will be delving into the slush pile with professional editor and author Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Here we go…

The Writer’s Toolbox: Give ’Em What They Want! Why Formatting Is Important By Danielle Ackley-McPhail

(Originally published in Allegory Magazine ©2011)

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So far, we’ve discussed that nothing will help your manuscript if the editor in question is not even willing to read it.

We’ve discussed remembering your contact information, and some basics… How to identify yourself, and your manuscript.

Last week we discussed basic formatting.  Now we’ll go into some special stuff.

Keep It Simple

Matters of Style

No matter what I type here there are going to be plenty of examples of publishers that do things different from what I’ve covered. Sometimes that is just a product of their experience or how they were taught. Sometimes it has to do with style guides. You may or may not have heard of these; the most familiar are the AP Style Guide, the Chicago Manual of Style, and Strunk and Whites. Many of these have their roots in print journalism and are meant to unify style for consistency. Basically they are journalists’ grammar and style bibles. Their use is no longer limited to newspapers or magazines. Not only do they guide a writer in matters of style, but they also cover grammar issues that are often confused or lost in depths of time-fogged memory.

Keep it Simple!

Before the time of electronic submissions not listening to this advice was one of the biggest mistakes beginners made. You would laugh your butts off if you had heard some of the stories I have about the manner in which some hopeful authors have submitted their manuscripts. We are talking complete bells and whistles here of the type you would expect from the ad campaign of a major corporation. Everything from fancy, scented paper to puzzle-box packaging, all of it intended to catch the eye and stand out like a psychedelic dream. Unfortunately, all that does is relegate your manuscript to the list of over-drinks stories editors tell.

Things might have changed now that the majority of submissions are handled electronically, but it is still important for you to know that a story should be noticed for the quality of the writing, not the inventiveness or style of its presentation. If you are submitting by conventional mail use plain white or cream bond paper and observe the formatting guidelines I reviewed above; if you are submitting electronically, don’t use fancy type or try to set your manuscript as if it is a finished book; don’t use colored text or insert photographs (unless they are a key point of what you are submitting, such as an academic text or how-to); and don’t add any other bells and whistles you might be considering. Let me be clear: The manuscript should stand on its own merit. If the writing isn’t any good, none of the flash is going to make a difference. What it will do is distract the editor from your work and likely cause them to reject it outright as being unprofessional.

Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over seventeen years. Currently, she is a project editor and promotions manager for Dark Quest Books.

Her published works include four urban fantasy novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, and The Halfling’s Court: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale. She is also the author of a single-author collection of science fiction stories called A Legacy of Stars, the non-fiction writers guide, The Literary Handyman and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Dragon’s Lure, and In An Iron Cage. Her work is included in numerous other anthologies and collections, including Rum and Runestones, Dark Furies, Breach the Hull, So It Begins, By Other Means, No Man’s Land, Space Pirates, Space Horrors, Barbarians at the Jumpgate, and Mermaid 13.

She is a member of the New Jersey Authors Network and Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres.

Danielle lives somewhere in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, mother-in-law Teresa, and three extremely spoiled cats. She can be found on LiveJournal (damcphail, badassfaeries, darkquestbooks, lit_handyman), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DAckley-McPhail). To learn more about her work, visit http://www.sidhenadaire.com, http://www.literaryhandyman.com, or www.badassfaeries.com.

Website and/or blog www.sidhenadaire.com, http://lit_handyman.livejournal.com, http://damcphail.livejournal.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/DMcPhail

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/danielle.ackleymcphail

Amazon author page   http://www.amazon.com/Danielle-Ackley-McPhail/e/B002GZVZPQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1331314265&sr=8-1

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/989939.Danielle_Ackley_McPhail

http://www.badassfaeries.com/

http://www.sidhenadaire.com/

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Road to Publication #23: – Never Ending Edits

Well, I submitted the Arcs, and like I thought, a few of the things I asked for were turned down. Basic mistakes like punctuation and spelling were all a no-brainers and fixed (I hope).

Wait — OMIGOSH!  I just looked at my countdown button and there are only 21 days left until I am officially published!  Holy freaking cow!

**Ahem** Sorry… Shaking off the freak out.  Back to business…

Okay… those final edits… Here’s what happened.

The Chapter Headers, which I wanted in Edwardian Font, were changed to an awkward Arial Bold that just made me cringe… So if you read it on kindle, imagine that being beautiful scrolling letters that make you feel like you are outside. Funny thing is, The PDF version looks fine, so it might be different depending on the E-reader.

I also was turned down on the Ellipses. I knew they would say no, because I am reading another one of J.Taylor Publishing’s novels now, and I found exactly the same problem in that novel.

In a closing ellipsis, JTP’s standard format is a space before and after… no-matter where it falls on the page. This means that if you have the sentence, “I tried to do it but …” the “…” could very well drop to the next line, and appear all by itself. To me, that completely ruins the mood of what you might be trying to do, but that is the publisher’s choice. They want all their novels in the same format. I need to understand and live with that.

One section of the book had part of the scene removed in editing, and I had to “bridge the gap” because it was obvious there was something missing. It was easy… just added a scenery sentence, but in doing so I accidentally repeated the word “eased” in two back to back sentences. They asked me what I wanted to do and I changed one “eased” to “settled”. Good catch JTP. Thanks!

Finally: A single word came in to play again. The editor had changed one word in a scene that I really liked. I tried to get my original word back, but they declined. The word that they choose just didn’t work for me, but after asking around for suggestions, I found another word that we could both agree upon and BAMO! Yay! We are finally done.

So, I guess they weren’t completely unending. They just felt that way for a little while.

The Arcs are now complete, and the next time I will see Last Winter Red it will be published as part of the Make Believe Anthology.

Ahhhh. Published. Sounds good, doesn’t it?