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How to professionally format your manuscript for editors, agents, and publishers

Most of the manuscripts I receive are not properly formatted for editing. Instead, I get all kinds of unusual formatting, from a stylized, ready-for-print book to 37 chapters all in separate files, each with a hodge-podge of formatting. While it’s not difficult for me to clean up an improperly formatted manuscript, if you can save me the time and put a big smile on my face at the same time, wouldn’t that be a great start to our author-editor relationship? And if you’re planning to submit to an agent without the help of an editor, the following tips are essential for you to know.

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How to recognize and avoid clichés in writing

Cliché. Such an elegant, pretty word. But such a dirty word to writers and editors. “Avoid clichés like the plague” is a clarion call stern instruction to all writers, but many find it difficult to do. In this post, I’ll explore why, as well as what you can do to avoid this writing pitfall and improve your prose at the same time.

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How to write deep POV: It’s all in your perspective

In fiction writing, there are a lot of soft “rules,” many of which can be broken, but not before you’ve mastered them. For example, writers break fiction rules when they engage in too much telling and not enough showing, information dumping, improperly structuring scenes, and misusing dialogue tags (also known as attributions). But there is one rule I consider unbreakable in modern fiction, especially for first-time authors: stick to just one point-of-view character per scene.

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A laptop with a grammar checker on the screen

Are grammar-checking websites worth the bother? By Caroline Kaiser

A client mentioned recently that she has a thirty-dollar monthly subscription to a certain popular website that promises to check your manuscript for spelling, grammar, punctuation, style, and word choice. I should say at the outset that as a freelance editor, I’m biased and tend to turn up my nose at sites like these; I don’t imagine that they have a hope of ever replacing me or my editor colleagues, so I don’t lose any sleep over the fact of their existence.

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The differences between self-publishing, subsidy publishing, and traditional publishing

When I first started freelance editing in 2002, there was real confusion over the difference between traditional publishing, self-publishing, and vanity publishing (also called subsidy publishing or fee-based publishing). Ten years later, the confusion remains—in fact, with POD publishing and the advent of such companies as CreateSpace, Amazon, and Lulu going into the book production business, the confusion has only grown.

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The importance of copy editing

My membership in the Editors’ Association of Canada includes a subscription to its listserve (chat forum). The subject of a current discussion thread is the value of a copy editor, which began with a complaint that if Dan Brown had been provided with a copy editor for his latest novel The Lost Symbol (and his previous novels), he didn’t make much use of him/her. This post led to a long discussion. Many of my colleagues are horrified at Dan Brown’s appalling sentence construction and plot inconsistencies, all pointing to an apparent lack of good copy editing.

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