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Writer's craft

Ask the editor 9: Why do I need a report?

Why do I need a report?

Writing is, in some respects, an isolated and isolating occupation; but it doesn't have to be. Feedback, particularly if it comes from an informed, professional reader, is invaluable.  Read more

Ask the Editor 7: Researching for a book

Researching for a book

One could probably write a book about researching for a book. It's a big topic and it covers a lot of different subjects and approaches. However, whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, there are some general principles that are worth paying attention to. In this article, I'll explore some basic ground rules for research.  Read more

Ask the editor 8: How I assess a manuscript

How I assess a manuscript


Assessing a manuscript for editing is a skill all of its own. Individual editors may have different routines for assessing a text but we are all aiming for the same goal; a realistic grasp of the work that's required to bring a book up to a professional finish. In this article, I'll explain how I go about assessing editing jobs, and why.  Read more

Ask the Editor 6: Writing non-fiction

Writing non-fiction

Writing a non-fiction book is a very different project to writing a novel; the motivation, purpose, style and approach are quote distinct. ‘Non-fiction', of course, covers a wide range of genres and formats; however, there are some principles that apply across the board. In this article I will explore some of the basic requirements in writing a non-fiction book.  Read more

Ask the Editor 5: Non-fiction submissions

Non-fiction submissions

Submitting a non-fiction book for publication is a broadly similar process to a fiction submission, but there are differences, and those differences are important to understand. In this article, I will look at non-fiction submissions and how they differ from their fictional counterparts.
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The Pedant: how to make your editor happy 6: What's all the fuss over hyphens?

What's all the fuss over hyphens?

President Woodrow Wilson once declared (heavens knows why) that the hyphen was ‘the most un-American thing in the world'. Observant readers will have noticed that he couldn't have said this (and no one could have written a report of his words) without a hyphen; thus perhaps proving that the President was blithely unaware of grammatical irony.  Read more

Ask the Editor 4: Why do I need you?

Why do I need you?

Ask the editor: Why do I need you?  Read more

Ask the Editor 3: writing a synopsis

Writing a synopsis

The synopsis is a strange document; it is at once the dullest, and perhaps the most important, part of the submission package. It reduces your book, your creative project, to a few lines of plain, unadorned narration; yet it allows a publisher to see the book as a whole, to get a feel for the narrative arc and the development of the plot.  Read more

Ask the Editor 2: the submission letter

The submission letter: practice and pitfalls

Your submission letter (also known as the query letter) is the first thing a publisher will read; that makes it an important document. Get it right, and you have captured their attention; get it wrong, and your book may be rejected without being read. In this article, I will look at the ground rules for the letter, and the pitfalls you should try to avoid.  Read more

Ask the Editor 1: What genre is my book?

What genre is my book?

I am asked this question surprisingly often. I say surprising because one might assume, most of the time, that the genre of a book is obvious. And, most of the time, it is relatively obvious; authors tend to aim their efforts at specific markets. But once in a while, you come across a book that defies simple classification.  Read more

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