Whether you’re writing a novel, blog post, or press release, there are guidelines that will help you get your work published and noticed. The foundation begins by knowing which resources to use for each manuscript. At the most basic level, here are the tools you need to succeed in your writing endeavors*:
*Most of these resources are available online for a yearly subscription. If you use the book versions, make sure you have the most recent edition.
Chicago Manual of Style – The Chicago Manual of Style, the online version “provides recommendations on editorial style and publishing practices for the digital age. Now offering the full contents of the 16th and 15th editions, it is the must-have reference for everyone who works with words.”
Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary – Believe it or not, different publishers use different dictionaries as their standard. Make sure you use the right one!
AP Stylebook: The journalist’s bible. The stylebook releases an updated version every year, so make sure you’re using the most recent edition.
Webster’s New World College Dictionary: Slightly different from the Merriam-Webster dictionary. It may not mean much to you, but it’s an important difference in the publishing world.
Other Helpful Resources:
The Writer’s Market guide – a comprehensive list of every book and magazine publisher. This guide include contact information, submission guidelines, how much they pay, and more, including writing tips from seasoned professionals. There’s also a Christian Market Writer’s guide that focuses exclusively on those publishers in the Christian/inspirational market; some of these are listed in the general guide, but there are hundreds more listings.
After decades of work as a freelance editor, Kathy Ide compiled a helpful list of the errors she sees most frequently in her book Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors. Not simply her list of tips, Ide includes references to the Chicago Manual of Style and AP Stylebook so you can easily search for and find the rules yourself. There’s even blank pages for you to make notes of the rules you reference the most.
Each publisher may have a specific list of preferences, so make sure you check websites for submission guidelines. It truly can make a difference – before my agent was my agent, he agreed to read my manuscript because I not only submitted a well-written proposal, I also followed all of the guidelines.
Now you know which tools you need, so get to work!