(This post originally appeared at KarinBeery.com)
It’s the new year! If you’ve decided to start the new year with a new career and are venturing into the publishing world, welcome! This is a wonderfully challenging, rewarding, and sometimes frustrating endeavor, but if you have a passion for the written word it’s worth the effort. If you’re writing for your own pleasure, there are no rules you need to consider as you type. If, however, your goal is publication, there are a few things you may want to consider – your resources.
What most people don’t realize is that the MLA standard you used in high school and college is not the standard used by publishing professionals. Not only are there different guidelines for grammar and punctuation, these guidelines differ between the book and magazine industry. If you want to increase your chances of seeing your works published, it’s important to know industry standards.
The AP Stylebook
Webster’s New World College Dictionary
It’s important to note that these books are constantly updated, so you’ll need to find the most recent editions. Fortunately, most of them also have online editions to which you can subscribe – for a yearly fee you can access these resources from anywhere.
While these resources blanket book and magazine publishing, there may be some publishing houses with more specific guidelines. For example, many publishers of Christian books refer to the Christian Writer’s Manual of Style, and it’s not unheard of for a publisher to have its own publication-specific guidelines. That’s why it’s imperative that you check a publisher’s website for standards and guidelines before you submit anything.
Start the year – and your career – off right by making sure you have the right tools to do your job. Make sure you have these resources so you’re not simply doing your job, you’re doing it well.