A stack of books titled What Editors Do, The Subversive Copy Editor, and Chicago Manual of Style

Book Recs for Eager Editors

The last time I went into a large, unnamed, corporate bookstore in search of a book about editing, I found a half-shelf in the reference section dedicated to some things publishing. Out of the whole bookstore, that was the only place I found books about books. While some independent bookstores may be more helpful in providing resources to dive into editing, here’s a list of books all about editing that will make the journey of exploring editorial experience a little easier.

What Editors Do: The Art, Craft, and Business of Book Editing by Peter Ginna

A collection of essays from professionals across the industry, this book is a great way to get an insight into multiple perspectives and how editing can be viewed as a craft and as a career. Founder of Bloomsbury Press, an imprint of Bloomsbury USA, Peter Ginna has the background and experience to understand the facets of publishing and create an informed list of essays to cover the full experience of book editing.

The Subversive Copyeditor: Advice from Chicago (or, How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself) by Carol Fisher Saller

This book is a great resource for copyeditors when you are building and maintaining relationships with authors, other people in publishing, and yourself. A guide to keeping the peace when it comes to author–editor relationships, this book makes for a great pairing with What Editors Do with a little more practical advice for being on the job. The author is also a former senior manuscript editor at the University of Chicago Press, former chief copyeditor of the sixteenth edition of the Chicago Manual of Style, so you know this book was created by someone who really knows her stuff.

17th edition Chicago Manual of Style (or your preferred style guide)

Having a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style, or whatever style guide I am working with, open and available to reference while I am working is an invaluable resource. Whether it’s online or in physical form, being able to look up questions about commas or numbers with ease makes a huge difference when you’re sitting down for a long day of editing. I love being able to flip to the index or search bar of the Chicago Manual of Style online without having to wade through Google results written by unknown authors with varying levels of expertise. Personally, I love my paper copy, but the online Q&A can help answer hyper-specific questions that you may not be able to find elsewhere.

There are so many books on editing out there for editing at every stage of the book process. Hopefully this list can kickstart your journey and guide you to more resources as you read. Happy editing!

photo of full bookshelf. White arched text reads "Inside Ooligan Press:" White box with Ooligan fishhook logo. Straight white bar at bottom of image with text "Editing"

Inside Ooligan Press: What Does an Editor Do?

Note: This is part of the blog series “Inside Ooligan Press,” about how we take a manuscript from an idea to a professionally published book.

There are many levels of editing that help shape a manuscript into what readers ultimately pull off the shelves of their favorite bookstore or library, but how does each level of editing work to transform a manuscript from the first draft to the final, polished result?

As editors, we create and manage all editorial timelines and guide an author through the publishing process as their manuscript undergoes multiple levels of editing. In addition, an editor’s goal is to help an author strengthen their writing while also maintaining their voice and overall tone of their story. To do this, editors follow guidelines set by the client they are working with, the publishing house they work within, and style guides used across particular industries. Here at Ooligan Press, we utilize our house-made style guide and a style guide created specifically for each manuscript we publish, as well as the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) that is broadly used across the publishing industry. These guides encompass standard rules for the treatment of numbers, the use of commas, and the use of other punctuation, as well as citations and endnotes when applicable.

CMOS is the standard style guide used in trade book publishing, but each publishing house may also utilize an internal style guide for specific editorial decisions. For example, at Ooligan, our style guide has a specific section for inclusivity that we reference to ensure our publications are accessible to readers and use inclusive language. We also create style guides for each manuscript to address book-specific editing choices such as the spelling of unique names and phrases, often seen in fantasy or non-fiction books.

These style guides are utilized throughout the four main editing stages: developmental editing, copyediting, line editing, and proofreading. The first round of editing that a manuscript goes through is developmental editing, also called a DE. This round is undertaken by our Acquisitions Department, who work with authors to complete big picture editing. Rather than correcting spelling errors or comma splices at this stage, a DE looks at the manuscript from the top down, addressing plot holes, character development, and plot points that move the story forward.

After Acquisitions receives these big picture edits back from the author, the manuscript is handed off to our Managing Editor to guide the manuscript through more specific edits. Manuscripts we acquire generally go through two rounds of copyediting, one heavy copyedit and one light-to-medium copyedit, depending on what each manuscript needs. These rounds of edits look for spelling mistakes, errors in punctuation, and smaller, more specific story edits as needed. Story edits are marked in comments as queries to the author to point them in the right direction if there is any confusion within the manuscript. For these types of queries, our editors explain why they are bringing something to the author’s attention and provide at least two suggestions that would provide more clarity. Like during a DE, these suggestions are up to the discretion of the author and aim to maintain their voice. Alongside these suggestions and correcting punctuation and spelling, we also strive to correct grammatical errors and sentence structure, a process called line editing. Here we look at each sentence and its role within the manuscript. Awkward wording is flagged and suggestions are provided to help the author rework unclear sentences.

Following these copyedits, the manuscript is sent to the Design Department to transform the Word Document into a designed PDF that will ultimately turn into the final published book. But before this designed interior can be sent to the printers, it must undergo one last round of editing to ensure all errors are corrected. We call this round a print proofread, in which editors compare the designed interior to the most recently edited Word Document. Here we make sure that there are no missing paragraphs or sections, all punctuation and italics are correct, and no stray code made its way into the manuscript during the design process. Once the proofread is complete, the book is sent to the printers and the final book is produced. In a similar fashion to print proofreads, we also perform ebook proofreads to ensure a digital copy of the manuscript is formatted correctly and no errors were introduced during coding.

While these are the editorial steps we undertake at Ooligan, each publishing house may differ from these steps depending on their department structure. No editing schedule is the end-all be-all for editing, but a good editor will work directly with an author to maintain their vision for their manuscript. The most important job an editor undertakes is helping an author create the best version of their manuscript and strengthen their writing while maintaining their unique voice.

photo of full bookshelf with Ooligan fishhook logo centered. Arched white text box reads "Inside Ooligan Press" and straight white text box reads "Contracts and More"

Inside Ooligan Press: Your Manuscript is Accepted! Now What?

Note: This is part of the blog series “Inside Ooligan Press”, about how we take a manuscript from an idea to a professionally published book.

So, you wrote a killer query letter and submitted a proper proposal. You won over Acquisitions and we pitched your project to the press successfully, then we offered to publish your book: now what? For the sake of transparency and in an effort to demystify this crazy little thing called publishing, I humbly offer you an inside look at what you can expect when working with Ooligan Press.

Once you get notified that our pitch was successful, we enter into the contract negotiation phase of the process. We are a small, not-for-profit press that generally cannot offer author advances. However, authors are compensated for their work, receiving industry standard royalty rates for trade paperbacks based on cover price and units sold, paid out biannually after publication. The Publisher and author negotiate terms of the contract including dates and deadlines for revisions, the final manuscript and any additional materials, and publication, among other things. This process generally takes about two weeks, give or take, during which time it is encouraged that the author has a trustworthy individual review the contract with them.

Once the contract is signed, we will typically go straight to work with a light or heavy developmental edit, determined by the Acquisitions Editors when we evaluate your manuscript. As a teaching press, we accept manuscripts that are strong and show immense promise, but that offer learning opportunities for the members of the press. This includes the need for editorial work. Expect to do revisions! The Acquisitions Editors lead a team of editors in reading and analyzing your manuscript to determine what is working and what needs work based on our knowledge and experience. We craft an editorial letter full of our critiques, compliments, and suggestions for revision and deliver it to the author for review. We follow up with a phone call or video chat to discuss the letter if the author feels it would be beneficial to do so. The DE process takes about a month, sometimes more. Then the author gets to work on revisions, for which they also get about a month to complete, though timelines may vary based on the project.

During development, your title may change. Sometimes it is necessary to tweak the title, or change it altogether, but not always. Acquisitions Editors must consider best practices for title generation and consider whether yours is appropriate for the genre and market, the literal and connotative meaning of the words or phrases used, and whether it encapsulates or represents the content found within the book. If we feel a change is necessary, we provide the author some alternative titles to consider and deliver them with the editorial letter. While the author’s input is taken into account, the final title is decided upon by the editors.

While we are hard at work developmentally editing your manuscript, you will be completing Ooligan’s Author Questionnaire: a document that will be used by all departments to produce and promote your book. While this questionnaire is lengthy and can feel slightly invasive, the author can of course choose which questions they will and will not answer depending on their comfort level.

Upon delivery of the revised manuscript and questionnaire, the author is then introduced to their Project Manager: the person who will see the project through the rest of the way. They are responsible for keeping the production of your book on track and are your primary point of contact for questions and concerns after acquisition and development.

Your manuscript will undergo copyediting by a team of editors, led by Ooligan’s Managing Editor. Depending on the needs of your manuscript, this may be a light, medium, or heavy copyedit. We use The Chicago Manual of Style as our primary style guide. This process may take one to two months depending on the time of year and the current stages our other titles are in. The author then receives the edited manuscript and reviews and implements the editorial suggestions, for which they typically get a month to complete.

While these editorial processes take place, your book’s dedicated project team, led by your Project Manager, has already begun their work crafting the sales hook, back cover copy, and so much more. They work with the managers of each department, Acquisitions, Editing, DEI, Digital, Design, Marketing, Publicity, and Social Media, to create a master plan to produce a quality book and launch it into the world. But wait, there’s more.

Be sure to check out future installments of this blog for a look at more stages of the production and promotion process at Ooligan Press!

the word "proofread" followed check boxes that say "grammar," "formatting," and "spelling"

The Dos and Don’ts of Proofreading

The topic of copyediting is talked about at length within the publishing industry, but there is little discussion about another aspect of the editorial process that is equally as important: proofreading. Here is a quick guide to everything you need to know about proofreading your next project.

Proofreading is one of the last steps in the editorial process. The manuscript has completed all rounds of copyediting, has been XML typecoded, and has been sent to the designer to complete the interior. The book is nearly complete and just needs a final check to ensure that errors weren’t introduced during the design process and that there are no lingering grammatical errors. Proofreading is the final step before the book is sent to the printer, but there is much confusion about what is and is not covered during this stage of editing.

Here are some things to look for as you complete your next proofread:

Weird Spacing:

Be on the lookout for missing spaces between words or punctuation and places where there are additional spaces where there shouldn’t be.

Leftover XML Coding:

At Ooligan, our books are XML typecoded so that the designer knows what special treatment different words and sections should have. Sometimes parts of this code accidentally make its way into the final manuscript, so be on the lookout for erroneous code.

Discrepancies:

Double-check that everything from the final version of the manuscript has been included in the designed version. Check for missing paragraphs or words, missing images or graphics, or missing punctuation marks.

Punctuation:

As you are proofreading, check the punctuation surrounding words that are in bold or italics—do they follow the guidelines outlined in your style guide? Also be on the lookout for placement of punctuation within quotations—do they follow the guidelines outlined in your style guide?

Closed vs. Open Compounds:

Make sure that compounds are following the Hyphenation Guide for Chicago.

Consistent Spelling:

Be on the lookout for names, places, and other words that may be spelled inconsistently throughout the manuscript. We recommend keeping the style sheet for the book nearby as you proofread.

Ellipses:

Double-check that all ellipses are formatted according to the style guide. For Chicago, it is three periods with spaces: . . .

Windows, Runts, and Orphans:

Be mindful of the way paragraphs start and end. Widows happen when the last line of a paragraph starts at the top of the next page. Runts occur when the last line of a paragraph ends with a single word. Orphans happen when the first line of a paragraph is on the bottom of a page.

Here are some things to keep in mind when completing a proofread. The time for any substantial editing is over. Now is the time to look for any glaring errors that are remaining after the copyedits are completed. We don’t want to be rewriting any of the text or posing queries to the author—there shouldn’t be any substantial changes to the manuscript at this stage.

I hope this guide helped shed some light on what is expected—and what to avoid—for your next proofread.

Happy proofreading!

Asexuality Awareness Flag

Using Inclusive Language for Asexuality

October 23 to October 29 is Asexuality Awareness Week! So to wrap up this week, I wanted to explain what asexuality is and share some resources on how edit or write about asexuality in a conscientious and thoughtful way. One of the primary ways of editing underrepresented voices that you may not have experience editing is to get familiar with style guides that will “help you develop a basic understanding of inclusive, empowering, and respectful language.”

What is a style guide?

A style guide is used to guide the editing of a project. Editors will include character names, prominent locations, editorial decisions, and other elements of a text or project that they might need to refer to later in a text on the style guide. They can also be used to maintain consistency if the project is passed between editors. The goal of these guides is to ensure consistency across a project; for example, style guides make sure “grey” and “gray” are not used interchangeably. In order to make style guides more inclusive and guarantee that editors are catching moments that could interrupt a reader’s experience, editors can read guides that discuss how to treat language surrounding underrepresented identities so they can catch when these identities are not being treated accurately by authors. For examples on such style guides, try Radical Copyeditor, Disability Language Style Guide, Conscious Style Guide, A Progressive’s Style Guide, GLAAD Media Reference Guide, and Race Reporting Guide.

Asexuality: What is it?

Asexuality is a spectrum of attraction in which a person does not experience sexual attraction. It encompasses many different terms along its spectrum including demisexual and grey asexual. Being asexual does not always mean that someone doesn’t have sex or doesn’t enjoy it, but it can. Under the umbrella of sexuality, there are people who are sex-positive and don’t mind having sex and there are people who are sex-repulsed and don’t like hearing, thinking, or talking about sex. Some asexuals even experience arousal or have a high libido without feeling sexual attraction or a desire for sex.

Attraction

One helpful way to look at asexuality is to break down attraction. There are a few levels of attraction: sexual attraction, romantic attraction, sensual attraction, and aesthetic attraction. Sexual and romantic attraction are often combined in allosexual and alloromantic people (people who experience sexual and romantic attraction), but they are not necessarily the same thing. An asexual person might experience romantic attraction, defined by the Asexuality Archive as “A sense of ‘I would like to be involved in a romantic relationship with that person,'” but they wouldn’t also experience sexual attraction, defined as “A sense of ‘I would like to engage in sexual activity with that person.'” Each of these types of attraction is on its own spectrum.

Similarly, sensual attraction and aesthetic attraction do not exist on either of those spectrums. Aesthetic attraction is defined as “Non-sexual/non-romantic attraction to the way someone looks. Often described as the desire to ‘admire someone like a painting’, but not necessarily anything further,” while sensual attraction is defined as “A sense of ‘I would like to engage in sexual activity with that person.'” Keep in mind that these definitions are somewhat fluid due to the difficulty of defining these feelings and the differences of the human experience. Everyone’s experience is different, and it’s important to listen to people when they have their own definitions for their identities.

Food for Thought

Allosexual people can sometimes be careless when discussing sex because for many it is a natural part of life; however, for asexual (or ace) people, not feeling sexual attraction is just as natural. The Conscious Copyeditor links this article, under their sexuality section, about how easily ace people can feel alienated by cultural norms, especially when prioritizing sex as the “pinnacle of happiness” or saying that sex is part of being human or having a successful relationship.

If you are curious about learning more about asexuality or have questions, try exploring the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, or AVEN, for more nuance.