Wednesday, April 24, 2013

House Style

Last time, I posted about fonts and that kind of thing in a manuscript submission. I wanted to touch a bit on house style as well.

There are certain grammar rules that are pretty much universal. Likewise with punctuation and spelling. However, on occasion publishing companies, particularly small presses and e-publishers, may have requirements that don't quite match what you might have learned in your high school English class. For example, I know of one romance e-book publisher that prefers authors use commas very sparingly because they feel commas slow down the reader.

When a publisher has a specific house style, whether it's related to grammar, punctuation, and spelling or to not allowing certain words to be used in their books, the information is available to authors. In most cases, not following the style guide precisely won't be grounds for rejection, but for some publishers, it is. The information may be present in the submissions guidelines, and some publishers have a style guide that authors can download to use. When in doubt, most publishers have an email address you can contact with questions.

Of course as authors part of our job is to make sure our submissions are polished to the best of our ability, and that includes ensuring that we've used proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Publishers do provide editing for their books, but they don't want to have to start from scratch; they expect authors to do some work beforehand. And that can mean making sure our manuscripts fit the style of the publisher, even if it goes against what we learned in high school.

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