Guest Post – 14 Manuscript-Formatting Tips for Writers and Poets – Kathy Steinemann

14 Manuscript-Formatting Tips for Writers and Poets

Don’t press the Publish button until you read this post.

Whether you self-publish or work with a traditional publisher, you should perform a thorough check for hidden codes that might hinder your book’s conversion.

Even if you’re not at the publishing stage, a professional-looking document will impress agents and slush readers. A haphazard mess will have them reaching for antacids.

Save yourself the embarrassment.

This article discusses a few common formatting blunders and how to fix them in Microsoft Word. If you prefer a different word processor, you can still use the information here to isolate the same problems in your software.

Before we begin, open your WIP in Word.

You’ll need to activate the function that allows you to see paragraph marks and other invisible symbols:

Navigate to the Home tab of Word and press the ¶ icon.

Tip #1: Never copy and paste from a website.

If you’ve already done this, you might be in for a bumpy ride.

And I’m not talking about legal issues if you’ve hijacked information from internet pages. You’d never do that, right?

No matter what you copy online, you could pick up weird spacing, tables, headings, undesired page breaks, non-standard colors and font sizes, tabs, highlighting, special characters, et al. These unexpected anomalies could prevent conversion to eBook format.

Tip #2: Select a standard font such as Times New Roman or Cambria.

Comic Sans MS won’t impress an agent or an editor. But if you’re self-publishing a printed children’s book, go for it.

Tip #3: Avoid tables.

Some eBook aggregators or programs won’t accept tables, or they do a sloppy conversion job. If you need a table, one option is to produce a graphic instead. It’s beyond the scope of a short article to explain the mechanics, but for guidance, you can search online for how to take a screenshot.

Tip #4: Remove non-breaking spaces.

These spaces, which require a Ctrl-Shift-Space key sequence in Word, mysteriously appear in some documents and will make them fail EPUBCheck validation.

Non-breaking spaces create sentences that look like this:

The°quick°red°fox°jumps°over°the°lazy°brown°dog.

instead of this:

The·quick·red·fox·jumps·over·the·lazy·brown·dog.

To replace them:

Search for [space]
Replace with [space]

Word is smart enough to replace all spaces, including non-breaking spaces, with regular ones.

Tip #5: Eliminate double returns after paragraphs.

Do you see something like the following in your manuscript?

The quick red fox.¶

Tsk, tsk. That’s what styles are for.

Search for ^p^p
Replace with ^p

If you want extra room after each paragraph, access the style you need to change and modify its spacing:

Modify -> Format -> Paragraph -> Spacing: After

Not sure how to use Word styles?

Microsoft provides how-tos for several versions of Word at the following link:

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/customize-or-create-new-styles-in-word-d38d6e47-f6fc-48eb-a607-1eb120dec563

Tip #6: Delete linefeeds, and replace them with paragraph returns.

Linefeeds eliminate extra spacing between paragraphs. They’re produced with Shift-Enter, and are helpful when writing articles for blogs. This post contains a few, because they work well in WordPress. However, they don’t belong in manuscripts.

Word expects all text joined by linefeeds to be part of the same style. An added annoyance: They hinder edits to hyperlinks and bookmarks.

Search for ^l
Replace with ^p

[That’s ^ell, not ^one.]

Tip #7: Replace double spaces with single spaces.

Double spaces between words were the norm when everyone created manuscripts on typewriters. Nowadays they’re unnecessary, and they can cause spacing anomalies.

For instance, if a line break occurs in the middle of a double space, you’ll end up with a single space at the end of the first line and another single space at the beginning of the next. Given the number of double spaces that would occur in a typical manuscript, the probability of several such anomalies is close to 100%.

Search for [space][space]
Replace with [space]

Tip #8: Remove extraneous spaces at the end and beginning of paragraphs.

No matter how careful you are, these spaces appear as you write and revise. They’re easy to replace.

Search for [space]^p
Replace with ^p

and then

Search for ^p[space]
Replace with ^p

Tip #9: Edit apostrophes that face the wrong way.

Consider this sentence:

“But I don’t trust ‘im,” he said.

Note the punctuation that replaces the missing h at the beginning of ‘im. It looks like a quotation mark.

Here’s how you would fix it. Type:

[h][i][m][cursor left x 2][‘][cursor left][backspace][cursor right x 3]

This is an excellent reason to avoid words that drop initial letters.

Instead of: ’E’s doing it again.

Try: He’s doin’ it again.

Instead of: He’s going with ’em.

Try: He’s goin’ with them.

Instead of: I’m not against ’t, honest.

Try: I’m not agin it, honest.

Plan your dialect before you write your story, and keep a file with the quirks for each person. Characters should have unique speech characteristics that enable readers to differentiate them, but the dialogue should be easy to read.

Tip #10: Replace tabs.

Search for ^t
Replace with [nothing]

Tabs don’t belong in a manuscript. Neither do multiple spaces. If you want to indent the beginning of each paragraph, set up a style for that.

Indented paragraphs function well for novels.

Block-formatted paragraphs work better for books such as cookbooks and instructional manuals, where special formatting like bulleted lists, block indents, and hanging indents often appear.

Tip #11: If you’re preparing your document for eBook conversion, find and replace these codes with [nothing]:

^b (section break)

^m (manual page break)

Tip #12: Never do this.

Do you remember the tip about double returns after paragraphs?

Here’s a practice that’s even worse: multiple presses of the Enter key to reach the top of a new page, to insert a blank page, or to set up for a section break.

In eBooks, free-flowing text, font changes by readers, and varying screen sizes will transform extra lines into a mess. You might get away with it in a paperback or hardcover edition, but a minor edit before you print could alter your paging and introduce other glitches.

Instead, on the Insert tab, select:

Pages -> Blank Page

or

Pages -> Page Break

Tip #13: Search and replace cautiously.

Why?

Consider the following, for example. Sometimes authors want to replace all ‘s (straight quotes) with ‘s (curly quotes). This is how they do it:

Search for ‘
Replace with ‘

However, when they do this, all words such as ’e’s, ’em, and ’t end up with apostrophes that face the wrong way.

Can you imagine the time-consuming mess you’ll have to clean up afterward?

Always, and I repeat, always double check your entire document after performing blanket search-and-replace operations. Yes, it takes time, but quality is worth the effort.

Tip #14: When all else fails …

Are you receiving obscure errors from EPUBCheck or your book aggregator’s conversion process?

If you can’t locate the problems via Word’s Find function, you might have to:

  1. Copy the text from your manuscript into a text file.
  2. Begin a new manuscript.
  3. Select the contents of the text file, copy, and then paste into the new manuscript. This removes all formatting.
  4. Start at the beginning and reformat the @#$%&! thing.

Imagine how long that will take. The painless approach would be to avoid the errors in the first place.

A program like Jutoh, which contains EPUBCheck and works well in tandem with Calibre, provides meaningful errors. Jutoh also allows direct edits, saves your project, and converts to multiple file formats.

Don’t give up if you experience formatting difficulties.

And remember: Today’s words are tomorrow’s legacy. Keep writing.

© Kathy Steinemann

Kathy Steinemann, Grandma Birdie to her grandkids, is a parrot-loving grandma involved in a passionate affair with words, especially when the words are frightening or futuristic or funny.

As a child, she scribbled prose and poetry, and won public-speaking and writing awards. As an adult, she worked as a small-town paper editor, and taught a couple of college courses. She has won or placed in multiple short fiction contests.

If you were to follow her around for a day, you might see her wince when a character on TV says “lay” instead of “lie” or when a social media post confuses “your” with “you’re.” And please don’t get her started on gratuitous apostrophes in pluralized words.

Her popular books in The Writer’s Lexicon series are touted by writers as “phenomenal,” a “secret weapon,” and “better than a thesaurus.”

You’ll find her at KathySteinemann.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

kathy-510x510-alex.jpg

 

Editor Interview Number Eight – Scott Sandridge

Hi, welcome to the Library of Erana and thank you for talking to us today.

A pleasure to be here, and thanks for having me.

Please introduce yourself. My name is Scott M. Sandridge. I’m both a writer and an editor, and sometimes a reviewer. I have close to thirty short stories published and over sixty reviews. I was a slush reader for Ray Gun Revival from 2006-2007 and then the managing editor of Fear and Tembling Magazine from 2007-2011. I currently edit freelance.

I also recently edited three anthologies for Seventh Star Press: the two-volume A Chimerical World anthologies (Tales of the Seelie Court and Tales of the Unseelie Court) and Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions.

How did you get into this line of work? I kinda got sucked into it. After publishing a couple of my short stories, the Overlords at Ray Gun Revival asked me if I’d like to be a slush reader for them. And I’ve always had a hard time saying no to anything. Later, when Fear and Tembling Magazine was launched by Double-Edged Publishing, the same company RGR was under, I was asked to do some slush reading for F&T. A couple months after launch, the managing editor had to step down, so I took up the reins (which I originally had planned to be only temporary until a new editor was found).

I still consider F&T to be one of the major highlights of my editing career, due to me (at that time an untested managing editor) and a ragtag bunch of very talented slush readers and assistants (all of us volunteers) managed to take an online zine seemingly destined to die at infancy and transformed it into a zine so awesome that it ended up being part of a featured article in Rue Morgue.

Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that? Do you have any you love? I love anything involving Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. I’m also okay with the occasional Mystery or Thriller. I’ve never yet been asked to edit a Romance. *shrugs*

Are you also a writer?  If so do you self-edit or do you use the services of another editor? I self-edit because I’m one of the rare writers who actually can edit my own work. Although, when not pressed by deadlines, I’ll go through beta readers and such.

What are your opinions of self-edited work by authors? If you can, do it. If you can’t, don’t. But if you do, make damn sure you can.

Have you ever refused a manuscript? Only once. I expect manuscripts to be in standard manuscript formatting. While I’m forgiving of minor variances, one time I had to say no simply because the whole entire manuscript was such a complete and utter mess that it would have taken me twice as long to format it before I could even start to edit.

Have you ever had an author refuse your suggestions/changes? If so how did you deal with it? A few times. Most authors are very professional about it, even when they refuse. And yes, while it’s the author’s right to refuse an editor’s suggestions, there is a right way and a thousand wrong ways to go about doing so. Only twice have I encountered a writer who was a total jerk about it. I’ve never bothered to work with those two since.

Editors often receive a bad press in the writing community, what are your thoughts on this? Whatever you’ve heard about us, we’re a million times more evil. MWAHAHAHAAAA!!!

Nah! Editors are people too, unlike corporations….

Please could you tell us about the process involved with editing for, say, a 100k word Manuscript. Similar to editing shorter works, but takes longer and is much more involved. The first thing I’ll do is read a few pages in order to get a good grasp of the author’s voice, so as to avoid ruining his/her voice in the later stages. Next I’ll go through and edit for content (what scenes work, what scenes don’t, which characters need more development or just plain suck and need removing), paying extra attention to the beginning and end. As I edit for content, I’ll note any typos etc. I come across. Once the content editing is done, I then concentrate on proofreading (remember the notes I took on typos? Helps the proofreading part go faster when you’ve already tackled half of them). After that, I’ll do a final skimming once-over before sending it back to the author.

When doing the work for a publisher, I’ll also format the manuscript so that it’ll be ready for publishing as soon as the author approves the proofs. Whether or not I insert page numbers, etc., depends entirely on how the publisher wants it done (and that often depends on the technology/software being used to publish the book).

What is the difference between proof-reading and editing? Proofreading is when your main concern is spelling and grammar. It often involves minor corrections and, rarely, a reworking of phrases or entire sentences. Editing is where you do full content editing, and is often a process you do with the author. After all, when you need whole paragraphs removed or the entire first chapter changed, it’s best to make those as suggestions to the author than to just do them yourself. A good writer will take your suggestions and come up with something even better than what you had originally suggested.

Do you have part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t? I always enjoy seeing the finished product. J

But the process itself often leaves me feeling like, “Blaaah! Why is this taking me so loooooong!??” But then, if I didn’t feel that way at some point during the process, I’d start to worry that I’m doing something wrong. Lol!

Outside of your work as an editor do you read for pleasure? What genre do you enjoy the most? When not reading as an editor, I’m usually reading as a reviewer, so I rarely read just for pleasure anymore. And even then, it’s hard to shut down Editor Brain in order to do so. There’s even been days when I’ve forgotten what pleasure reading can even feel like.

If so do you find yourself editing the work as you go or are you able to “switch off?” Sometimes I can switch off. Most of the time, though, I can’t. And all it takes to switch it back on is just one glaring typo….

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor? Develop a thick skin, ‘cause haters are gonna’ hate.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-edit? You can’t go wrong with Strunk & White’s Elements of Style. Read it. Religiously.

Tell us a silly fact about yourself. I’m a Gemini, which means that everything I said above I am in support of and in complete disagreement with all at the same time. No I’m not! Yes I am!

Please add any links to your blog/website etc.

 

A Work in Progress/SpecMusicMuse blog: http://smsand.wordpress.com

FB Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/smsandwrites

Twitter: @scottmsandridge

I’m at a few other places, but the above three are where I’m at most often.

Oh, and you can find me on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Scott-M.-Sandridge/e/B00JPSIV3Q/

 

 

The Writing Process Chain Blog Hop

Firstly I am not sure I am doing this right, but here I go.

A few weeks ago an author/blogger I know asked me if I wanted to be involved with the chain blog hop. Basically she posts and tags several people and they tag others they know and so on. We discuss our own writing processes and pass the baton.

Here are the questions:

What am I working on? As usual I have several projects on the go.  Mainly Book III of my series – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles. Presently it doesn’t have an official title but hopefully will do so soon. So what is this one about? The series is dark adult fantasy/fantasy romance with a touch of erotica set in the world of Erana. The events of Book III follow on from Book II – the Shining Citadel, however the focus is on a slightly different set of characters – namely the trolls. Talfor, the warrior lord from Book II, plus a couple of other Book II characters, including the briefly mentioned Mirandra Var, the Shaman’s daughter, set out to find the ancient ruin far across a distant valley and discover what has happened to their kin. Of course it is not that simple. What they find is not what they expect and the revelations will link back to Book II and the over-arching plot of the series. Archos, Dii and the others feature as more side characters, working on what they’ve found out but will still play an important role and will feature again in later books. 

Apart from trying to finish this novel I am working on several short stories. Hopefully I will have a short fantasy story in the follow up to Wyrd Worlds, plus a poem or two in the summer Indie Collaboration. I’m also co-writing a fantasy story with my good friend Diana to feature in a fantasy anthology later in the year. Co-writing is so much fun, so long as all the writers agree on what is needed. I am so happy to be working with Diana on this project.

There may also be another short anthology of Tales of Erana, but this is only in the planning stage.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? That is a good question. A lot of fantasy has rather sterile characters, or at least the relationships between the characters isn’t explored. My books are fantasy, but more than that the characters are passionate, in some cases volatile, and their interactions offer some light in the largely dark world. Oh and then there’s the sex. My characters are, as I’ve said, passionate and the sexual scenes are part of who they are. These scenes don’t overwhelm the plot but they are an important aspect of the characters. I like to think my books are sensual fantasy. 

Then there are the tropes – turned about. Yes I have elves but they aren’t immortal, they are slaves and generally are treated pretty badly. There are trolls too, but they aren’t ugly, stupid or live under bridges. They are cultured, intelligent and rather mysterious. 

Why do I write what I do? Because there are stories which want to be told. I’ve always written stories or poetry and I love to read. I thought I give something back for all those wonderful books I’ve read.

How does my writing process work? I’m a pantser. I have an overarching plan for the series but individual books tell me what they need as I go. I usually know the ending, if not the finer details and obviously the characters.  I tried to plan, and every time I change the plan. I do have several folders of notes and ideas however, both for past stories and future. Some will get used, many won’t.

The short stories are slightly different, for me at least there is a lot less planning. Two which feature in Tales of Erana came out of lore told in Book II. Usually I think of something when I can’t write it down! Like when I’m in the bath….

A brief mention for the one who tagged me…Jo Barker has been writing short stories for many years as a hobby and has now finally published with The Adventures of the Frog Prince.

Her stories take you on weird and wonderful journeys using a combination of fantasy and strange facts that makes the narrative more engaging.

At the moment she is writing children’s tales but there are plans for other books.

You can join my blog here http://www.jrbarker.info/my-blog/

You can follow me on Twitter

or

Find me on Facebook

I tag – Victoria Zigler is a blind author of children’s fiction and poetry.
She has a very vivid imagination, and spends a lot of time in
fictional worlds; some created by her, others created by other
authors.  When she remembers to spend some time in the real world,
it’s mostly to spend time with her hubby and pets, though sometimes to
indulge in other interests such as doing crafts, listening to music,
watching movies, playing the odd figure game or roleplaying game, and
doing a little cooking and baking.  Victoria was born in the shadow of
the Black Mountains in Wales, UK, has been writing since she knew how,
and became a self-published author in 2012.

Blog: http://ziglernews.blogspot.com

And Laurel A Rockefeller

Laurel A. Rockefeller was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska where
she received her bachelor of arts from the University of Nebraska at
Lincoln in writing, psychology, and medieval and Asian history. In
2009 she joined Yahoo Voices where she writes non-fiction articles
covering a broad range of topics. In August, 2012 Laurel launched the
Peers of Beinan medieval science fiction series with book one, “The
Great Succession Crisis,” book one of the Anlei’s Legacy trilogy. In
March 2014 she launched the “Legendary Women of World History” series.
Laurel currently lives in western Pennsylvania with her beloved
cockatiel.


Amazon author page:  http://tinyurl.com/LARAmazon


Blog:  http://peersofbeinan.wordpress.com/

Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/peersofbeinan/

Laurel A. Rockefeller
Author, Peers of Beinan series: http://www.peersofbeinan.com
Author, The Legendary Women of World History series:
http://www.legendarywomenbooks.com/

Check out the newest Peers of Beinan book, “Anlei’s Legacy Trilogy:
the Lost Tales” available now exclusively for kindle
http://www.amazon.com/Anleis-Legacy-Trilogy-Tales-Beinan-ebook/dp/B00INCPOZ8/

 

And here are some other authors who are playing this game. Kyra Halland

http://www.kyrahalland.com/1/post/201…
http://www.kyrahalland.com/1/post/201…

 

Victoria Zigler http://ziglernews.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/author-tag-chain.html

Editor Interview Number Six – Bret James Stewart

Hi, welcome to the Library of Erana and thank you for talking to us today. Thank you for having me.  I am honoured to talk with you.

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your editing experience. My name is Bret James Stewart, and I have been editing for around 10 years.  I work on a freelance basis, primarily on the Elance platform.  I have edited a number of books in a variety of genres.  My favourites are fantasy and poetry, but I edit pretty much everything except very technical writing and erotica.  I also edit non-fiction, largely academic and scholarly work.  I have also done a lot of work on role-playing games, which are rather like a mix of fiction and non-fiction:  fiction as they are invented; non-fiction in that they have rules and other information that provide parameters and need to be accurate in much the same way a non-fiction needs to be factually accurate.

How did you get into this line of work? I originally entered this line of work dealing with my own writings, which I had to self-edit before sending them out to other editors prior to sending them to potential publishers.  I have a degree in English and the skills necessary for this sort of work, so, when I decided to work from home, I opted to stick with what I knew.  I have always loved books, been an avid reader, and adored anything related to books in any way.  I have also taught college-level English and Composition and related courses.  I have graded hundreds of college papers, which is a type of editing.

Are there genres you refuse, if so why is that? I avoid erotica and books with excessive language and violence, though I acknowledge the latter is not a genre.  I am a Christian minister, so I don’t like to have my name attached to these types of books. I also avoid technical books I am not qualified to edit factually such as legal advice or, say, computer manuals.  I will still work on this type of book if it does not require this level of expertise and only needs regular editing work such as grammar and punctuation.  I am pretty open.

Are you also a writer?  If so do you self-edit or do you use the services of another editor? Indeed, I am.  I write in a wide variety of genres and both fiction and non-fiction.  I self-edit as I write, and I carefully self-edit after I have completed the work.  Still, self-editing is not adequate for substantial works by anyone as the author’s eye skips over errors and makes conceptual, non-extant connexions a new reader will catch.  Therefore, I always use the services of an editor for medium-sized and longer works and shorter works that are important such as book synopses.  I will usually not bother to use another editor for very short works.  In any case, it is important to let a work sit for a few days before editing so the text can be viewed by fresher eyes.

What are your opinions of self-edited work by authors? I am assuming this question is asking if I think authors should self-edit.  Absolutely.  The practice benefits the author and the book.  The cleaner the manuscript, the easier the other editor’s job.  Also, if a manuscript has relatively few lower order concerns, the other editor can better focus on the higher order concerns, which are, as the name implies, more important in the sense they require more work and talent.  Pretty much anyone can learn how to edit for grammar and spelling.  It takes a certain degree of talent and intuition for higher order stuff such as characterization and tone.

Please could you tell us about the process involved with editing for, say, a 100k word manuscript. The processes differ, especially between fiction and non-fiction as the latter can include additional elements such as fact-checking and verifying citations.  Also, depending on the individual work, layout is important, so a lot of time is spent formatting.  This aside, the process is much the same.  My default process is to read through the book twice.  In the first run, I handle the lower order concerns and take notes regarding what I feel may be major issues for higher order concerns.  While editing for the lower order concerns, I get a feel for the higher order issues such as the plot and characterization.  Once I have gone through the novel once, I like to take a week or so away from it so I can approach it with “fresh eyes.”  The second run-through, I fix any lower order things I missed the first time, and comment and/or change things (depending upon the parameters of the job—I sometimes ghost write) regarding plot, theme, consistency, and the other higher order concerns.  If I have time, I will let the book sit for another week, give it a final proofread, and return it to the author.  If he has any questions, I answer those.

What is the difference between proof-reading and editing? I have found that many people use these terms interchangeably.  However, traditionally and how I view it, editing deals with lower order concerns such as grammar, syntax, and punctuation.  Proofreading is focused upon higher order concerns such as voice, style, and segues.  Any glaring lower order concerns, though, should be caught in the proofreading.  Many people view proofreading as the final read-through of a book before it is published or submitted for publication.

Do you have part of the process you really enjoy? Is there a part you don’t? I love to read books before anyone else.  Being a part of the process in bringing a book to publication is satisfying and enjoyable work.  There really isn’t any part of the work I do not inherently like.  Depending on the manuscript, it sometimes is rough slogging through a poorly-written work or one containing the same errors over and over.

Outside of your work as an editor do you read for pleasure? Sure.  I read a wide variety of books.  I read a poem a day.  I also read for school (I am currently earning my Masters of Divinity, so I read a lot of religious books).  I read the Bible and The Lord of the Rings every year.  I research for my non-fiction work, which requires a lot of reading.  I read role-playing game material.  I like all types of reading, so I can read throwaway fiction to academic articles to classics.  I am currently reading The French Broad by Wilma Dykeman, The New Perspective on Paul by James Dunn, and The Riverside Shakespeare in addition to a smattering of role-playing works I dip into on occasion.

If so do you find yourself editing the work as you go or are you able to “switch off?” I am trained to catch errors, so I do sometimes “edit” in my mind, meaning I notice errors.  This is especially true with non-fiction.  For example, I would put a comma after “If so” in the question J.  As I am reading for pleasure, though, I generally acknowledge it and move on unless the error prevents clear understanding of what I am reading.

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an editor? I would urge him to specialize in something, hopefully something he is particularly good at.  It is easier to claim part of a niche market rather than trying to do everything.  Of course, I recommend taking pretty much everything that comes along, especially while establishing himself, but marketing should be somewhat narrow.  Edit everything he can.  The more experience and the more varied experience he has will aid him in landing jobs.  Consider using some sort of freelance platform if freelance is the way he wants to go.  If he is seeking an in-house editing position, of course, he should look for those jobs and apply for internships, apprenticeships, and/or junior positions.  Sometimes, freelancing will work toward this end, too, as freelance positions can sometimes lead to in-house positions.  Treat editing as a business.  He should expect to take some low paying jobs at first in order to “prove” himself.  Market like crazy.  If he intends to edit as a career, he should consider earning editing credentials and/or joining professional editing organizations.  These will boost his reputation and indicate a certain skill level.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self edit? I recommend that everyone self-edit as it will make him a better writer.  As I mentioned above, I do not recommend that an important work be solely self-edited.  I edit as I write; some people do not like this because they feel it interferes with the flow of writing.  Both ways are okay, but I would urge the author to at least try it.  Correcting errors as he goes will result in making fewer errors.  Regardless of whether or not an author self-edits as he writes, he certainly want to self-edit later, whether it is by the chapter or the full manuscript or some other marker.  Let the material sit for a day or two—I think a week is better—to allow distance from the work.  I recommend doing this twice.  If the author has self-edited as he wrote, probably a proofread is okay; if he has not, I recommend the first editing session be for lower order concerns and the second for higher order.  I would then give it a final proof before turning it over to another editor.

What are the necessary writing guides you would recommend? For this question, I am assuming you are referring to the technical aspects of writing.  My answer is none-to-various depending upon the individual’s capabilities and type of writing.  An intelligent and careful reader/author is going to generally be familiar enough with his own language to not need a manual.  Still, for those times when things are questionable—and those times do occur—The Elements of Style by Strunk and White is essential.  Other things are vital for specific work, e.g. editing role-playing game material will require the game’s guidebook(s).

Please add website/blog etc. I have a Goodreads account in my name, Bret James Stewart.  My Elance profile can be viewed at:  https://www.elance.com/s/edit/bretjamesstewart/

 

Thank you for allowing me to share!