Endear yourself to an editor

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Editors are hard-working professionals whose job is to make you look as good in print as possible. Actually, they’re usually over-worked, so everything you can do to make his or her job easier will endear to an editor. So, here are some very important basics:

Read the periodical or publishing house’s writers’ guidelines. (I’m guessing I reject at least two-thirds of all unsolicited manuscripts because; the writer was too lazy to look at our online writers’ guides. You wouldn’t believe the number of manuscripts I received on massage when I edited a teen magazine called In Touch.)

Run a spelling and grammar check. These aren’t perfect, but will catch a good deal of errors. (And if you spell my name and the name of the house wrong, I can pretty much guarantee you a rejection.)

Send manuscript as one file as a Microsoft Word attachment

Put everything in Times New Roman 12 point. Everything! (The designer will choose the fonts to create a professional-looking product.)

One space between sentences.

Set up FORMAT and PARAGRAPHS on your word processor to automatically indent paragraphs. Do not manually type in spaces or use tab key.

Follow either the Associated Press Stylebook (newspapers, magazines and online publications) or Chicago Manual of Style (books).

For books, use the “serial comma” (It’s that extra comma in lists of three of more items (example: Peter, James, and John).

For books, chapter titles and heads are bold and centered. Subheads are bold and flush left and have a space above them.

Use this order in arranging your book (as per Chicago Manual of Style.

      Title page
      Copyright notice page
      Dedication
      (Table of) Contents
      Foreword (This is another writer’s endorsement of the book)
      Preface (Written by author, but is often not included if the introduction meets the need)
      Acknowledgements (If not part of the preface)
      Introduction (If not part of the text)
      Text
      Appendix(es) (if needed)
      Notes (if needed)
      Glossary (if needed)
      Bibliography (if needed)
      (List of) contributors
      Index(es) (if needed)

The trend is not to capitalize pronouns for God. There is no capitalization in original Greek or in many modern translations. If you decide to capitalize pronouns, please be consistent.

For scripture references follow this format:

      The apostle John teachers us, “God is love” (1 John 4:7).

      The Book of 1 John tells us, “God is love.”

      First John 4:7 teaches us, “God is love.”

Many publishing houses have their own unique styles, so see if they have their style sheet online.

You will endear yourself to editors if you follow these basics. (If I have a choice between two piece of equal writing quality, I’m going to choose the one that will take the least work to get it to typesetting.)

Jim is associate acquisitions editor at Wesleyan Publishing House.

Copyright © 2014 James N. Watkins

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