Tag Archive: tools for self publishers

(this post is a re-write re-post from 2011…)

As I near the end of writing my manuscript, I realize that the time has come to polish up the grammer, usage, punctuation,
and so I pull out my mammothly heavy copy of The Chicago Manual of Style.
Perhaps, you are thinking, I should have that book out all the time – before I near the end of my manuscript.
Well, I am going to ignore that kind of thinking and move forward.

I can’t pretend that I like The Chicago Manual of Style. I’ve spent too many hours trying to follow all the freakin’ rules and regulations.

Rules like how percentage has to be spelled out if it refers to human beings, but can be a symbol if it refers to anything else unless it is at the beginning of a sentence and depending how big of a number it is referring to.
This is the kind of rule that seems to love itself too much.

The T-Rex of Self Publishing, Chicago Manual of Style

This is how I feel about the Chicago Manual of Style, but I use it… and use it… and use it some more.

To be a rule simply to exist as a rule and not to help mankind in general.
Stop signs, good rule.
Percent rule,  not so much.

The manualfesto is produced by the University of Chicago Press – who is actually a publisher.
They have a section of their website with manuscript preparation guidelines that are a handy basic starting point for formatting a manuscript, even if it isn’t going to be submitted to them.

And I wondered why the University of Chicago got to determine the final word on usage of the English Language… wikilore says it is because they did it first, and they did it most, and they’ve continued to do it.

It started in 1906 with the first edition and is now in a 16th edition and is considered a guide for the proper use of everything in American English.

If I sound a little negative, it’s only because I don’t write right and I have to spend many many hours creeping through the Chicago Manual of Style to put out a decent manuscript.
Their rules of English usage are not obvious to me despite my fluency in the language.

It is also because I decided not to sign up online because if I bought the durn book, then I’d have it and not have to pay again every year. How often would they put out a new edition?  I’d be set for decades.
The very next year, they put out the new edition. All newest editions are automatically accessible in the online subscription, which is also, naturally, searchable online.

If I had the online version, I could be searching the proper usage of the word “Dammit” right now.

Self Publishing Winter View

This is the winter version of my favorite view from our New Mexico property. Because I am entering edits, and that is a cold, gray, vista of gray coldness.

This week, the “Self” in Self Publishing is pissing me off.

Because this week, I am entering the edits to my book about my grandfather’s aviation pioneering history which will not be titled “CJT, A Biography” due to the unanimous thumbs down from my editors.

Not that it was the title. It was a working title. I’m still working on a title.

This week I am crawling through my book, page by page, carefully capturing all the fixes that my editors have provided.
My editors are very very good, and don’t miss a thing.
But I am apparently utterly unable to properly capitalize or numerate or subject/verb match or punctuate.

I imagine that if I had a book deal with a traditional publisher that some intern would do this for me.
I suspect that I’d still be doing it myself… but in the meantime, let me dream.

I had a job doing this kind of work twenty years ago. I quit that job.

I got tired of searching manually for the proper capitalization of the word “embassy” in my copy of The Chicago Manual of Style.
I wondered how much easier it would be to search for it on the online version.

I’d already dissed the online version in favor of the hardcover version glaring at me on my desk.
So I went online and discovered…that they had a one time 30 day free trial of the online version…

Sign Me Up!

And, and, and …. I typed in my question and got…
The same reference as I get in the hardcover version.

The table of contents.
An invitation to click crawl, rather than page crawl, the chapter on capitalization.
The same note about Chicago’s “down style” as I had sitting on my desk.

Where’s my intern?
Now the all the words in “self publishing” are pissing me off.

I searched further and I did find one benefit of the online Chicago Manual of Style.
The forum.
This is where other terminally frustrated writers and editors have posted their questions and either other people or the Editorial Priesthood of The Manual have answered, and that was really quite helpful because I did pick up a side comment to a tangent to a reference to another question that finally mentioned….

American Embassy (capitalized) or people from the embassy (not capitalized)

So, before I go back to my book and uncapitalize every instance of lieutenant colonel, except for those that should be capitalized… which means that I can’t just do a find and replace… let me summarize my comparison between the hardcover printed copy of The Chicago Manual of Style and the online version:

  1. They both contain the same nit picky, wickedly-confusing, non-obvious, trip wires of English usage rules organized in the same way
  2. Keyword searches really only bring you to suggestions for the right chapter, unless you luck out in the forum
  3. The forum is worth a lot
  4. But clicking through the chapter submenus using the forward button is a lot slower than running your finger down the printed page, because the website page refresh (on my computer) is slow
  5. The hardcover book is a pay once, page crawl forever, situation. Online is a pay yearly, click forever, version

My conclusion is:

Get an intern, give her the hardcopy book, and make HER enter the edits.


Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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