Now Add Proofreading to Your Editing Package

We’ve added a new proofreader to our staff… Callum Rakestraw! He is an accomplished writer (see his blog here) in his own right and an excellent proofreader. We are ecstatic to have him join the family business.

While his writing expertise is in the video game genre, his proofreading skills are fabulous across the board. He has been working on his writing and proofing abilities for several years now.

Due to his availability, we are now offering an editing and proofreading package (scroll down for our combo deals). For a discounted rate, proofreading can be added to any editing project. I encourage everyone to consider adding this service when you engage us to work on your book. While I work with you to catch as many errors as possible, it never hurts to have a fresh pair of eyes go over the book.

“In APE’s case, upward of seventy-five people reviewed the manuscript, and Shawn and I read it until we were sick of it. Take a wild guess at how many errors our copyeditor found. The answer is 1,500. You read that right: one thousand five hundred, and you may still find some, because we went right to publishing after copyediting, even though traditional publishers proofread a book twice after copyediting.”

page 80

APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur

by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch

Thanks to Guy Kawasaki for this pertinent quote from his new book. It’s true. You can never have enough people go through your book. If you have friends you trust, have them read your manuscript before you send it to us. Not only does that help you improve your final draft, it allows us to focus on the real editing issues and not get bogged down with simple mistakes.

Callum’s writing credentials include articles published on,,, and He hopes to return to E3 this June to check out the new gaming consoles and games for more articles.

Prepping Your Manuscript

Before you send your manuscript to an editor, an agent, or a publisher, there are a few things you should do to make it presentable.

If you’re sending it to an agent or publisher, look at their website for submission guidelines. Most will have their formatting preferences posted. Follow them to the letter. If you don’t see any guidelines, here are a few that will help your manuscript look its best.

Assuming you’re submitting a Word document, select all and go to the Page Layout tab. Under Paragraph, choose Indents and Spacing. Under Indentation, set the Left and Right at 0 inches. Under Special, choose First Line. The default of 0.5 inches is fine for a manuscript.

Now look just below Indentation and find Spacing. Set both Before and After at 0 point, then set Line Spacing at 1.5 lines. Any numbers that were in the box under At will disappear. This is fine. When you’re done, click OK.

Of course, don’t forget to run spellcheck and make sure you’ve made all the revision necessary to tighten your story.

Put a title page on your story with your contact information. Include your email, phone number, and address. Some publishers/agents will also require your word count, genre, and so on.

This presents a clean file that looks presentable and is easy to read.

Organization is the Key

You’ll hear a lot about writing by the seat of your pants, but the truth is, every writer needs some form of organization. Some people thrive with outlines, character sketches, and so on. Others don’t. But even if writing detailed character descriptions and letters from your character to you, the author, doesn’t appeal to you, you need a way to keep track of these things.

You certainly don’t want Cindy to have blue eyes on page 45 and brown on page 231. Believe me, it’s happened. There are also moment to moment changes to deal with, such as what Cindy is wearing when the scene begins and when and if that changes. You need to know how much attention Cindy pays to her appearance… while it may not be discussed directly in the story, it affects her attitude. The reader may not realize exactly what is bothering him when the usual fastidious Cindy suddenly doesn’t care that she has axle grease on her skirt. Unless her circumstances are so dire in that moment, it will bother her… and it may even be a momentary flash of agitation even if her situation is extreme.

These details are extremely important for you to keep in mind, and the only way to know for sure is to be organized. Searching back through your manuscript is not only frustrating, but a huge waste of time you could be writing.

It’s also important to keep in mind when the story is set to have a plot point. These are those moments that are life-changing for your characters. Frank is set in his ways and doesn’t want to step up to deal with the situation, but something happens that makes him do it anyway. This is one of those moments. It needs to happen at the right time, and once it does, he may wish he can go back to his complacency, but he can’t actually do it. Having Frank get complacent again after he’s decided to act is inconsistent. While we do want to make our characters seem real, story structure dictates that once a character has decided to act, he must. That’s not to say there aren’t obstacles in his way… there should be. Which gives you something else to keep track of.

We’ve been watching Burn Notice over the past couple months. The storyline has Michael and his friends trying to get out of Miami. Every way they turned, there were more obstacles. Yes, Character X could get them what they needed, but only if they were willing to deal with Character Y. Once Character Y was dealt with, which led to more problems, Character Z appeared with yet another obstacle. You can bet the show’s writers have to keep careful tabs on who does what and when, so if they resurface at a later date, they remain consistent.

So find a system that works for you. You need to know who and what is happening at any given moment so you can keep up the story.

Quotation Marks

Quotation marks are important. They let you know someone is speaking, and when you’re telling a story, this can be vital. I’ve seen some ‘experimental’ writing where they left out quotation marks altogether. It was confusing, to say the least.

Punctuation evolved to help writers convey meaning. After all, readers need to know where one thought stops and the next begins. They need to know how the words are being presented. Calmly? Excitedly? Quotation marks are something I find often need editing, so here are a few rules to keep in mind.

Quotation marks are for speech, not thoughts. Thoughts can be expressed in italics if you wish. Punctuation is usually included inside the punctuation marks in the United States, not outside.

“That’s the prettiest rose I’ve ever seen,” she gushed.

The first word is capitalized  inside the opening quotation mark, and the comma at the end is inside the closing quotation mark. It’s a comma because there is a dialogue attribution that follows. Notice that the dialogue attribution is not its own sentence. She is not capitalized in this instance.

“That’s the prettiest rose I’ve ever seen.” She gently stroked the velvety petals.

In this variation, there is a period at the end of the dialogue inside the quotation marks. The next sentence describes the character’s actions, which serve to remind us that she is also the speaker, since it’s immediately following the dialogue in the same paragraph.


Yay! Your book is finished! You’ve got a beginning, a middle and an end… the next step is rushing it off to the editor, right?  Then you can get it published.

Hold your horses. Your first draft is far from being ready for an editor. Prepping it takes more than running it through spell check. Now it’s time to revise.

Revision is the act of rewriting. You want to tighten those rough spots, make sure all your plot points are in place, and your characters are fully fleshed. Is your ending satisfying or is it too easy? Did the story gods drop down and wave their magic wand to make sure everything worked out the way you wanted? If so, your characters need to work harder, and so do you.

You may need to make several passes through your book to catch as many issues as you can. No one writes perfectly in their rough draft… no one. Revisions may make minor changes like character names or places that sound too much alike to full blown reworkings of the plot. If you’re not sure what needs to be rewritten, have someone you trust read it. By trust, I mean someone you trust to be honest, not someone who will just tell you it’s wonderful. Is it important to explain why your main character ran away from home? If it leaves a hole in the story if you leave it out, find a way to include it so it fits in naturally.

Do you have big paragraphs stuffed full of exposition? Find a way to make it interesting and break it up a bit. Can we get that important information without dumping it in? Maybe you can work in some of it in a conversation, or in a letter addressed to the character in question. However you do it, it needs to flow.

After revision 3, 6, or 10, you may be ready to do a final clean up. This is where you make sure you dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s. Are all your punctuation marks in the right place? Spelling has been checked? After you’ve done all of this, then it’s time to contact an editor. You’ll get more for your editing dollar if all the mess has been cleared up first. The remaining issues can then be addressed without digging for them under the slag that should have been taken care of first. Don’t be afraid of revising.


Need Editing? Now’s the Time…

2012 found me tied to my desk seven days a week, working hard on manuscripts. It was to the point that I severely cut back my formatting services because I had so much editing to do. Clients were having longer wait times due to the sheer volume of work I had to get through.

However, the rush is over. If you’ve been waiting to get your manuscript edited, now’s the time. My queue is almost empty, and turn arounds are much quicker. All you need to do is use our Contact form to send me the details of your book and I’ll be happy to give you a quote.

We are happy to work with payment plans, and we always offer a 30% discount up front for payment in full. You can find our rates here. So don’t publish or submit your manuscript without a thorough editing. You can see a listing of some of the books I’ve edited here. I’d be happy to help polish your manuscript. Well? What are you waiting for?